A British couple has handed over a 17th-century treasure that they bought in Saudi Arabia after it was found to have been looted from a museum in Afghanistan.
According to the UK's Sunday Times newspaper, Patrick von Aulock was shocked find out that an engraved copper bowl he and his wife, Paola, had bought in a shop in Jeddah in 1994 had been plundered from the National Museum in Kabul.
The couple found out about the bowl's true value when they tried to sell it through Christie's auctioneers in London.
After seeing the bowl, Christie's head of Islamic art department Sara Plumbly started researching the bowl's history and found it had been stolen from the Kabul museum.
With the help of the British Museum, the bowl was handed over to the Afghan embassy in London and will be returned to the Kabul museum.
Von Aulock said: "I'm in favor of returning goods to their country of origin," he said.
"It's criminal that museums are targeted, blown up and things disappear... I understand that 70 percent of the Kabul museum's artifacts were pinched, if not destroyed," he said.
Both Christie's and the British Museum paid tribute to the couple, emphasizing that they had bought the antique in good faith, reported the Sunday Times.
The copper bowl is a rare survivor from the Kabul museum's collection of Islamic objects. St John Simpson, an assistant keeper at the British Museum, said: "The Islamic collections are totally gone. That's what makes this particular piece significant."
Simpson described it as "beautiful", pointing out its "very well-preserved narrative imagery", including scenes from a Persian tragic romance among fine engravings, as well as its original owner's name and date: "Owned by Mohammad Abū Tāleb 1013 [30 May 1604–18 May 1605]."