The bust that American art dealers can buy at second-hand stores for $ 35 turned out to be a real Roman statue 2,000 years ago. It seems to be stolen and cannot be sold. However, according to experts, it is impossible to put the right monetary value on it. The statue has a checkered history.

Laura Young is a young art and antique dealer. In 2018, she entered the Goodwill facility in Austin, Texas. Goodwill is a chain of thrift shops that donate profits to charities.Young wanted to find “something cool” She talks to the British public broadcaster BBC† Under the table she found a large bust (bust, red). She pays it $ 35, which translates to about € 33. With her new addition, fastened to the passenger seat next to her with a seatbelt, she went home.

When Young scrutinized the bust in the sunlight, she noticed that the statue looked “very, very old.” She searched Google for a Roman marble bust and found that the resulting image looked a lot like the image of “her”. Now it’s time for further research, which led Young to the Sotheby’s expert at the auction house. And they had a big surprise. The statue turned out to be a real Roman bust 2,000 years ago from the 1st century BC or the 1st century BC.

From Germany to America, but how?

According to research, the bust was exhibited in Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, a city in Bavaria, Germany, last century. Built in the 1840s, Pompeianum was a recreated Roman villa displaying original and counterfeit Roman eras. It was badly destroyed by the bombing during World War II.

It is not clear how the bust reached Austin from Aschaffenburg. At the end of World War II, Americans occupied Aschaffenburg. They were stationed there until the end of the Cold War in 1990. It is believed that American soldiers took it to the United States sometime during that long period.


Laura Young cannot sell busts because the story can be categorized as wartime art theft. She managed to contact the German government and return her statue. But first she wanted it to be on display in her hometown of Texas. She has reached an agreement with the San Antonio Museum that she will lend her bust for permanent return. All the while, Bust stood in Young’s living room. “He looked really good, and he stood there staring at us for over three years.”

With such a great history, I don’t know if it’s possible to put the exact monetary value on something that can never be sold.

Linley Calpain at the San Antonio Museum

This statue is currently on temporary display at the San Antonio Museum of Art. It’s literally a valuable item, says museum curator Linley McAlpine. “We have such a great history, but we don’t even know if it’s possible to put the exact monetary value on something that can never be sold.”

Who does the bust really represent?

Linley McCarpine says it may be a bust of Sextus Pompey. It is the youngest of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, or Pompey the Great. He, along with Julius Caesar and Marcus Krasas, was the leader of the army and politics that formed the first Roman Triumvirate. Pompeii and Caesar later turned on each other, fought a civil war, and Pompeii was defeated.

Sextus Tarquinius, the youngest of Pompeii, picked up a weapon for revenge and generally fought Caesar, including Mark Antony, and the second victor. He was finally captured and executed without trial at the behest of Mark Antony.


Saying goodbye to the bust was a bittersweet taste, says Laura Young. “Even if he could find something more valuable and sell it effectively to make a profit, he (bust, red) would probably be the best.” She has already visited the bust of the museum. .. “I’m glad to see him in his element where he should be.”

The final return to Germany is scheduled for May next year.

Source: vrt


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