Wrap Yr Head Around This Tale Of A Woman Who Scored A Legit Roman Bust For $50 In An Op Shop

ancient roman bust op shop bargain

In big news for ancient history nerds and op-shop lovers (my two core interests), a bust found by a Texan art collector for $50 at Goodwill is actually a legit Ancient Roman statue.

It sort of puts my pride at finding genuine 2004 Supré tees in Vinnies to shame.

The bust was bought by art collector and antiques expert Laura Young for US$35 (AUD$49) at a Texan Goodwill back in 2018.

After living in her house for a couple of years it’s now being displayed at the San Antonio Museum of Art. It turns out the Ancient Roman bust has an absolutely fascinating history.

C’mon nerds, I’m entering my Miss Frizzle era so hop on in the magic school bus.

Basically the bust dates from somewhere between the late first century BCE and mid first century AD. Absolute yonks ago, in short.

It’s unclear who exactly the bust depicts. Smithsonian Magazine reported it could be the Roman commander Drusus Germanicus or maybe Sextus Pompey, the son of Pompey the Great. Absolutely banging names there too.

The bust ended up in the possession of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who lived between 1786 and 1868. It remained in his collection of ancient artefacts — stored in a villa called the Pompeiianum — until World War Two.

The Pompeiianum was bombed and looted by the Allies during the war. So art experts reckon an American soldier nicked it and shuffled it back off the the US, as per The Art Newspaper. God knows how they managed that, because the bust weighs more than 20 kilos.

Young shared a load of snaps of the bust and frankly, I’m obsessed with the one of him strapped into a car on the way back from Goodwill. Art preservation at its finest!

Young named the bust Dennis Reynolds. Yes, after Glenn Howerton’s character in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Absolute queen.

“He was attractive, he was cold, he was aloof. I couldn’t really have him. He was difficult. So, yeah, my nickname for him was Dennis,” she told Austin radio station KUT.

Because she’s an antiques seller, Young could suss the bust seemed pretty legit and did her research after taking him home.

“He had chips to the base, he had clear repairs, he looks old. I’ve been to museums. I’ve seen Roman portrait heads before,” she explained.

She knew she couldn’t keep the art piece or sell it because it was stolen. So she ended up getting an international art law attorney, Leila Amineddoleh.

After a load of negotiations, the fate of Dennis was decided. He’ll be moved back to Germany after spending a year in the San Antonio Museum of Art.

How he ended up in a Goodwill in Texas may never be discovered. But if we can take one thing away from the story it’s this: op-shops remain undefeated.