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A Roman bust sold by a Goodwill store for $34.99 turned out to be a 2,000-year-old relic

Business Insider US
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
  • Laura Young bought a 2,000-year-old bust $34.99 (R562) in a Goodwill store in 2018.
  • Art lawyers estimate the piece, nicknamed "Dennis Reynolds", to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • The bust will be returned to Bavaria, Germany after spending a year in the San Antonio Museum of Art. 
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInisder.co.za.

A Texas woman has handed in a 2,000-year-old Roman bust she bought four years ago in a Goodwill store for $34.99 (R562). 

In a post to her Instagram followers, Laura Young said she found the historic 52-pound marble relic at the Far West Goodwill in Austin, Texas, in 2018. Goodwill did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside normal working hours.

Young told Austin NPR Station KUT that after doing some googling, she contacted an auction house, which confirmed the piece was an original bust.

According to art law firm Amineddoleh & Associates, who advised Young on the discovery, the bust was determined to have been owned by King Ludwig of Bavaria in the 1800s, who displayed it in the courtyard of Pompejandum, a replica of a courtyard in the city of Pompeii, Italy. 

Pompejandum was shelled by US allied forces in 1944 and 1945, after which some items, including the bust, disappeared. 

Young called the bust "Dennis Reynolds," after the narcissistic, well-groomed co-star of the FX comedy "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." He was one of a collection of busts owned by Young. 

"He was attractive, he was cold, he was aloof. I couldn't really have him. He was difficult," Young told KUT. "So, yeah, my nickname for him was Dennis."

Young told KUT that Amineddoleh & Associates eventually sealed a deal that would find a permanent home for Dennis. The deal included a small finders' fee for Young, which would remain confidential. 

On its website, Amineddoleh & Associates said that as the looted piece was not sold by the museum or the German government, it was still the property of the Bavarian State, and that Young would have made "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on the open market for the piece. The law firm did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment outside normal working hours.

"Immediately, I was like, 'OK, I cannot keep him and I also cannot sell him,'" Young told The New York Times

She added: "It was extremely bittersweet, to say the least. But I only have control over what I can control, and art theft, looting during a war, is a war crime. I can't be a party to it."

The bust will be lent for one year to the San Antonio Museum of Art, which credited Young's Goodwill discovery. It will then be returned to the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes in Bavaria, Germany. The museums didn't immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment outside normal working hours.

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