Goodwill and other thrift stores are chock full of hidden treasures. Sometimes, it’s a simple concert t-shirt that has a specific meaning to the purchaser. Other times, it’s stumbling onto a seriously valuable object marked way down. The latter happened at a Texas Goodwill. It turns out a $35 bust sold in 2018 was actually from Ancient Rome.

According to DesignTAXI, where we first saw this news, a woman named Laura Young stumbled into the bust at an Austin Goodwill in 2018, where it was resting under a table on the floor no less! The bust cost a cool $34.99. However, an art collector, Young continued to dig around for info about the bust. Eventually, a Sotheby’s consultant named Jörg Deterling authenticated the bust as from the Julio-Claudian era. The Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens, and Lakes further confirmed the authentication.

An Ancient Roman bust discovered at a Goodwill is now on display at San Antonio Museum of ArtSan Antonio Museum of Art
San Antonio Museum of Art

Here’s what the San Antonio Museum of Art said of the bust:

The bust may portray a son of Pompey the Great (106–48 BC), who was defeated in civil war by Julius Caesar. Some unusual details of the bust resemble other portraits of the famous general, including the curling lock of hair on his forehead, his furrowed brow, and the creases on his neck, but with the addition of the traditional beard of mourning worn by his sons after Pompey’s death. 

Specifically, the bust is probably of Sextus Pompey. But per Design TAXI, during its stay in Texas, the San Antonio Museum of Art chief curator will work to confirm whether Sextus Pompey is, in fact, the subject.

According to the San Antonio Museum of Art, the bust had a long and winding journey from Ancient Rome to the Texas Goodwill. At one point the bust belonged to King Ludwig I of Bavaria. It even resided in his Pompejanum, a replica of an Ancient Roman Villa, which is now a museum. However, it disappeared from Germany following World War II.

The bust is on display at the San Antonio Museum of Art through May 2023. Afterwards, it’ll return home to Germany. But next time we go thrift shopping, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for works of art hidden in plain sight!