Wednesday 4 May 2022

Drusus Germanicus Bust in Texas

                   Thrift shop bust                  

Matt Largey, 'So the $35 sculpture you got at an Austin Goodwill was looted from a museum during WWII. Now what?' KUT May 4, 2022.

When Laura Young found a human head under a table at the Goodwill store on Far West Boulevard in 2018, she had no idea what she was getting herself into. The price tag said $34.99. Seemed like a deal. It was all white. Made of marble. Weighed about 50 pounds. “Clearly antique — clearly old,” said Young, who runs her own business as an antiques dealer and goes to a lot of thrift stores looking for treasures. So she bought the head and lugged it out to her car, buckled it into the passenger seat and took it home. Young wanted to figure out what the sculpture was, so she did some Googling and she started to piece things together. She contacted an auction house in London that confirmed it was really old — like FIRST CENTURY old. Another auction house managed to find the head in a catalog of items from a German museum in the 1920s and 1930s. It was listed as a portrait bust of a man named Drusus Germanicus.*  And so began Young's four-year ordeal trying to get rid of a 2,000-year-old sculpture.
The marble bust came from a museum called Pompejanum in the German city of Aschaffenburg built by the German king, Ludwig the First in the 1840s to house part of his collection of Roman art. This had been looted in 1945
Back at home, Young had a problem: She was in possession of a looted piece of ancient art. She couldn't keep it. She couldn't sell it. And giving it back to its rightful owners was a lot harder than it sounds. “At that point, I realized I was probably going to need some help,” Young says. “I was probably going to need an attorney.” So she hired a lawyer in New York who specializes in international art law, Leila Amineddoleh. Negotiations began. It was complicated. It takes a long time to figure out all this stuff — even in the best of times. But the pandemic complicated things even further. It was slow going and in the meantime, she was stuck with this 2,000-year-old head on display at her house. “It was on a small credenza close to the entryway of our house. Facing the TV. So you could see his reflection in the TV when you're watching TV,” she says. “Every time you walk into the kitchen, you pass the head. Every time you walk into the house, he greets you. He's there. He was a constant presence.”

Indeed quite a nice piece. It was Sotheby's in London that reportedly remotely dated a bust in far-off Texas to "the First Century". I do not see that at all in the treatment of the hair, for example. The way I see it, we should take into consideration that here there is at least a suspicion that King Ludwig was had. There was a lot of it about in Grand Tour times. 

Here, some more modern commercial attitudes, one reply to a link on the article:

Eileen Kasai @olikolokolo 8 g.
W odpowiedzi do @smudog @pbump and 2 innych użytkowników
Sad the statue didn’t make it to at least one Antiques Roadshow episode!

See also the text in the blog  


Drusus the Elder (Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, brother of the Emperor Tiberius, father to both the Emperor Claudius and general Germanicus, paternal grandfather of the Emperor Caligula, and maternal great-grandfather of the Emperor Nero)

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