A thrift shop find, by someone who knew what to look for, has turned out to be a marble sculpture lost in WWII.
Drusus Germanicus was a Roman general who lived approximately 2000 years ago. Laura Young is an art collector and antique dealer in Austin, Texas today. It’s maybe not too strange that the two should meet, but how they did is certainly a story.
Young was at a Goodwill thrift shop in Austin in 2018, when she spotted a grimy stone bust sitting on the floor under a table. A yellow price tag on its cheek read $34.99, which combined with its 50-pound weight meant it had probably sat there for some time. But she had a feeling about it, and bought the sad-faced bust, getting it safely home by seat-belting it in her passenger seat.
Following that feeling, Young contacted some auction houses, sent them pictures of her find, and was able to confirm that a sculpture very like it had once been listed in a catalog of items from a museum in Aschaffenburg, Germany. But the museum was looted by Allied soldiers in WWII and the piece hadn’t been seen since.
Presumably, it came to Austin, Texas in the duffel of an American vet, and was donated unknowingly by his heirs.
“At that point, I realized I was probably going to need some help. I was probably going to need an attorney,” Young told Kut.
With the help of a lawyer who specializes in repatriating art, Young was able to work out a deal to send Germanicus back to Germany. That will happen in 2023, if all of the travel details can be worked out. Until then, the bust, titled ‘Portrait of a Man,’ is on display at the San Antonio Museum of Art.
“It was bittersweet since I knew I couldn’t keep or sell the (bust),” Young said. “Either way, I’m glad I got to be a small part of (its) long and complicated history, and he looked great in the house while I had him.”
Photo: ZikG / Shutterstock