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How Did This 2,000 Year Old Roman Sculpture End Up in a Goodwill in Texas?

Photo Courtesy of San Antonio Museum of Art / Michael Minasi

Laura Young found a human head carved out of marble under a table at a Goodwill with a price tag of $34.99. It seemed like a pretty good deal, so she bought it and took it home. Then she did some Googling and found out it is a bust of a man named Drusus Germanicus, and that is was really, really old - as in first century old. She learned that the 2,000-year-old piece once belonged in the collection of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. That was later confirmed by art experts in Germany.

So how on earth did it end up at a Goodwill in Texas? One theory is that it might have been a U.S. soldier who either looted it himself in World War II, or he purchased it from someone who did, and perhaps brought it back in a duffle bag which then sat in someone's house for decades. Eventually, someone decided they didn't want it anymore and dropped it off at a Goodwill.

After enjoying the sculpture at home in her collection during the pandemic, Laura ultimately came to the bittersweet conclusion that Drusus needed to go back home to Europe where he truly belongs. But before she let him go, she had a half-size copy of him printed in 3D to go with her collection of other busts at home.

Ms. Young still treasure hunts at Goodwill, but she may never find another treasure quite as special as Drusus.


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