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Woman browsing Goodwill finds rare, looted, 2,000-year-old artifact and buys it for $34.99
What she thought was just junk turned out to be a priceless piece of history.
Caryl Jane Espiritu
05.16.22

Are you a frequent buyer at Goodwill?

If you are familiar with the store, hearing about people finding unique things on its shelves is not something new to your ears.

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Instagram - templeofvintage

Filled with various items that range from artistic to antique to even out-of-this-world, the local Goodwill seems to have it all. Apparently, the store even has a 2,000-year-old Roman bust sculpture that can be bought for only $34.99, according to The Art Newspaper. And this piece of art was bought by an unsuspecting Texas woman.

A very rare find.

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Instagram - templeofvintage

Back in 2018, art collector and vintage store owner Laura Young visited her local Goodwill to search for items she can sell again. As she walked along the aisles of the store, her eyes caught a sculpture that resembled Roman artifacts.

She looked at the price and saw that it was for sale for only $34.99. It was not too expensive but it sure looked like a real masterpiece, which is probably the reason why Laura ended up buying it.

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Instagram - templeofvintage

As it turned out, the carved bust was an actual artwork that was sculpted about 2,000 years ago.

According to The Art Newspaper, the item was “a rare and extremely valuable carved bust, believed to depict ancient Roman commander Drusus Germanicus.” It was created way back in the first century and originally was part of an art collection from Germany.

YouTube - KHOU 11
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YouTube - KHOU 11

Laura did not have any idea about it when she bought the item. But, finding very valuable art pieces in Goodwill stores is not something new to her at all.

“I’ve found a lot of interesting things at Goodwill in the past,” Laura said.

She was referring to a Chinese painting that she had bought there and later sold for $63,000. How cool is that?

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Instagram - templeofvintage

Laura initially saw the sculpture as dirty and very old. She did not find it pretty, but it looked authentic, maybe because it looked like an old sculpture from long ago.

She ended up buying it after finding it on the floor and under a table. Clearly, other people did not realize that the art piece was actually a true piece of art from long ago.

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Instagram - templeofvintage

She asked one employee to help her in transferring the 52-pound sculpture to her car, where she strapped it with a seat belt. Laura was hoping someone would buy it at a higher price.

Laura finds out that the bust she bought is worth more than what she could imagine.

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Instagram - templeofvintage

She chanced upon a Sotheby’s expert who eventually told her that she cannot sell or even keep the artifact because it belonged to a German museum.

Laura was quite surprised by this new discovery, but she knew she had to do the right thing. She decided to return the bust to its rightful place in Germany, where it will be displayed for tourists and art enthusiasts to see.

With the help of Leila Amineddoleh, a New York City attorney specializing in art law, the carved bust will finally be brought home.

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Instagram - templeofvintage

“US law doesn’t recognize the transfer of title when theft is involved, I advised Laura not to sell it, either publicly or privately, that is, on the black market. She risked expensive legal battles or criminal penalties if she tried,” the attorney explained.

After four years since she bought the artifact and discovered its true value, Laura is finally returning it to Germany where the Bavarian government is waiting for it to arrive.

Before the bust is shipped back to Germany, it will be on view at the San Antonio Museum of Art over the next year. Upon arrival in Germany, the plaque that would be placed for the bust will include Laura’s name.

Know more about this incredibly unique story by watching the video below.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

By Caryl Jane Espiritu
hi@sbly.com
Caryl Jane Espiritu is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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