The “Antiques Roadhouse” dream does come true, as proved by two recent stories about art objects that turned out to be a lot more valuable than their owners thought.
• The British auction house Dreweatts expects to get about $150,000 US for a vase that spent years in its owners’ kitchens. The 2-foot-tall urn — royal blue with metallic decoration — was reportedly bought in the late 1980s for a few hundred pounds by a surgeon, who then passed it down to his son his.
A family friend who happened to be an expert in ceramics said he saw it in the home about 20 years ago and told the owner that he “thought it was rather good … (but) I am not sure they really took what I said very seriously.” It was finally examined and now is thought to have been created in the 18th century for the court of the Qianlong Emperor. It will go up for auction on May 18.
• A bust bought for $34.99 four years ago in an Austin Goodwill store is a 2,000-year-old marble sculpture thought to depict the Roman general Drusus Germanicus. After an exhibition in San Antonio, it will be returned to cultural authorities in Bavaria, where it had been in a museum until World War II.
The find was made by antiques dealer Laura Young, who spends a lot of time in thrift stores. As she researched her purchase her, she began realizing it was much older than she ‘d thought, she told Austin radio station KUT. With the help of auction houses, she traced it to the Pompejanum, a villa that the Bavarian Ludwig I built in the 1840s to display his collection of Roman art.
The villa, still housing the valuable collection, was heavily damaged by bombing during World War II. It is suspected that a US soldier took it from the Pompejanum — or bought it from someone who took it — and brought it back to Texas.
Young told KUT that she has kept the bust in her home while the details of its repatriation are being worked out, and she has become quite attached to it. (She calls it Dennis Reynolds, after the narcissistic character in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”) As a memento, she had a half-size version made by 3-D printing.