Experts believe the bust is around 2,000 years old.
We sometimes hear about people making the deal of a lifetime but for one antique dealer, it was more like a deal for multiple lifetimes. After all, she only had to spend $35 to pick up a piece of Roman art that is considered priceless.
It happened when Laura Young was at a thrift store and something caught her eye. It was a Roman bust that weighed 52 pounds, but it wasn’t just a cheap replica. She plopped down the $35 and walked out, knowing that she had made quite a deal.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Young said: “He looked Roman. He looked old. In the sunlight, it looked like something that could be very, very special.”
After doing some investigation and discussing things with a Sotheby’s consultant, it was determined that the bust was actually made about 2000 years ago in the first century, A.D. The newspaper described it as a Julio-Claudian-era Roman bust.
The San Antonio Museum of Art has possession of the bust, which was named “Portrait of a Man.” It will be on display until next May, and at that point, it will be sent back to where it disappeared after World War II from Germany.
On the Museum website, they spoke about the location where the bust was missing. They said: “It had once stood in the town of Aschaffenburg, Germany, in a full-scale model of a house from Pompeii, called the Pompejanum, built [by] Ludwig I of Bavaria.”
Allied bombers had targeted the area during World War II and the piece of art disappeared at that time. The Pompejanum had been damaged but it seems as if this piece of art escaped harm.
More than likely, the piece of art was brought back to Texas by a US soldier coming home. Nobody knew about it until it was found at that thrift store.
When Young found the historic piece, she contacted the German government so that it could be returned to its rightful place, the Bavarian Administration of State-owned Palaces. She also wanted people in the United States to have an opportunity to see it, so she made sure it was in a local museum first.
The bust is a piece that shows Sextus Pompey. He was somebody who worked his entire life to avenge the death of his father, who was in a battle against Julius Caesar. After fleeing to Egypt, he was defeated along with his army and assassinated.
The newspaper reported: “It’s a portrait of an outlaw, a sort of enemy of the state. It’s unusual to have something like this. It’s also interesting that someone preserved it and had it in their collection as a personal enemy to the emperor. That could be dangerous to display something like that.”