Adjunct Professor Leila A. Amineddoleh represents Laura Young, who found an ancient roman relic at Goodwill on sale for $34.99. Professor Amineddoleh was quoted in a New York Times article examining the ancient bust’s journey to Goodwill and its future.
Laura Young was browsing through a Goodwill store in Austin, Texas, in 2018 when she found a bust for sale. It was resting on the floor, under a table, and had a yellow price tag slapped on its cheek: $34.99. She bought it.
Turns out, it wasn’t just another heavy stone curio suitable for plunking in the garden. It was an actual Roman bust from the late 1st century B.C. or early 1st century A.D., which had been part of a Bavarian king’s art collection from the 19th century until it was looted during World War II.
At some point before 1833, the bust had been acquired by Ludwig I, a Bavarian king, who displayed it in the courtyard of the Pompejanum, his replica of a Roman villa in Pompeii, in the Bavarian town of Aschaffenburg, according to Ms. Young’s lawyer, Leila A. Amineddoleh.
The Pompejanum was heavily damaged by Allied bombing in 1944 and 1945, and although some of its objects survived, others disappeared, Ms. Amineddoleh said.
The looting of art by the Nazis has gained widespread attention. But because the bust ended up in Texas, it is likely that an American service member either stole it or traded for it after the war, Ms. Amineddoleh said.
That meant Ms. Young was not the rightful owner because Germany had never sold the piece or abandoned the title to it, Ms. Amineddoleh said. Ms. Young said Goodwill was also unable to provide answers about the bust’s origins.