Julian Roup, spokesperson for Bonhams, said,
"We were alerted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in New York) that this item had apparently been seen in a tomb that someone at the Met had been involved in the excavation of ... It has now been repatriated, as we always try to do in these situations ..."The piece is said to come from an Australian seafaring collection. And there are still some unanswered questions about the due diligence process.
Roup would not identify the seller who tried to put the artifact up for auction, but said it appeared to have been bought "in good faith."