The 1st century bronze of Bacchus as a child was stolen in December 1973, along with 5000 Roman coins, from Musée du Pays Châtillonnais in France.
Due to the length of time past and the fact it had traded hands many times, the former owner in Austria had legal title.
However, following research and negotiations between the saleroom and art detective Arthur Brand, the bronze was returned.
Under French law a percentage of the value of the returned item must be paid to the person who is returning the object. This was a considerable sum and half was paid by the local authority in Chatillon and the rest was donated by TimeLine.
TimeLine CEO Brett Hammond and Dr Raffaele D’Amato, archaeologist and head of its antiquities department at the auction house, worked with Brand on the settlement.
Hammond said: “It was such an important object and we just wanted to help. It can now be admired again by the public.”
The 15.5in high (40cm) statue was dug up on the site of the Gallo-Roman village of Vertillum in eastern France in 1894 and appeared at many shows and exhibitions over the years before it was stolen in the raid in 1973.
According to Brand, the museum director Catherine Monnet cried tears of joy when the statue was returned.