Texas art collector Laura Young apparently struck big during one of her regular art browsings through Goodwill. She landed what is probably several collectors of art and antique items’ dream of finding an incredibly important piece in the middle of duds.
During one of her many trips to Goodwill, the art collector reportedly purchased a bust for $34.99; this turned out to be a missing Roman artifact. She revealed that she found the sculpture under a table on the floor, then took it home and named it ‘Dennis Reynolds.’
The sculpture was unveiled this week at the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA). It also displayed signage which acknowledged Young’s role in acquiring the over 2,000-year artifacts’ journey from Ancient Rome to the Boulevard Goodwill Boutique.
Texas Woman Discovered Missing Roman Artifact
The recently unveiled Roman statue in the San Antonio Museum of Art has a more interesting backstory than most. An art collector reportedly discovered the bust during one of her raids in Goodwill and bought it for $34.99 in 2018. She held onto it since, before discovering its real value recently.
In an interview with The Art Newspaper, Young revealed that the artifact was “on the floor” and “under a table” when she found it. “I’ve found a lot of interesting things at Goodwill in the past.. It looked pretty dirty, pretty old.” Apparently, the art collector bought the bust intending to resell it but never quite got around to it.
Young Thought The Roman Artifact Was Valuable
In many cases, art collectors and lovers tend to mistake artifacts and ancient relics for fakes as was the situation with singer, Demi Lovato a few months ago when she gushed about acquiring some ancient Egyptian artifacts which experts accessed as fakes. Young on the other hand had a gut feeling about the value of her finding.
She revealed she named the bust “Dennis Reynolds,” after a character in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” According to her, the artifact resembles the movie character because it was a “very difficult, cold, aloof, emotional man that caused some problems for me.”
Due to her experience with antique and vintage goods, Young revealed that she had a feeling that the artwork was probably valuable. She said, “I got it outside in the light. He has chips to the base. He had clear repairs. He looks old. I’ve been to museums. I’ve seen Roman portrait heads before.”
One Google image search on “Roman bust” later, Young realized that her artifact just might be the real deal. “They look a lot like my guy,” she said.
Young’s Name Will Be Featured On A Plaque
In her interview, Young admitted that she contacted the staff of the classics and art departments at the University of Texas to discover the bust’s origin. She also reached out to several auction houses for the same reason.
She eventually got feedback from Jörg Deterling, auction house Sotheby’s consultant, who confirmed the artifact’s history and introduced Young to the authorities in Germany. With the aid of her lawyer, Leila Amineddoleh, the art collector was able to map out a deal.
She recalled, “My husband and I were on a road trip when I got an email from Bonhams confirming the head was indeed ancient Roman, but without provenance they could be of no further assistance. Soon after that, Sotheby’s got in touch,”
The statue would reportedly be given to Germany’s Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens, and Lakes. However, the artifact would remain in SAMA on display until May 2023, with Young’s name engraved on a plaque.
The Bust Dates Back To First Century B.C
The statue reportedly dates back to the late first century B.C or early first century A.D. It was part of the art collection of Ludwig I of Bavaria, who housed it in a full-scale model house from Pompeii in Aschaffenburg, German. The construction of the display, known as Pompejanum, was executed by architect Friedrich von Gärtner while the King oversaw it.
The display was severely damaged during a targeted attack at Aschaffenburg in World War II by the Allied bombers, and the bust mysteriously went missing. The Pompejanum was restored decades later and made into a museum; however, the artifact was still missing. Its ensuing journey to Texas is mostly a mystery; however, the U.S. military reportedly occupied that area till the end of the Cold War.
The museum revealed that an American soldier is believed to have taken the artifact from its home and then brought it to Texas. The relic apparently stayed in Texas for decades until Young purchased it in 2018.