Hobby Lobby, the conservative-owned arts and crafts chain, has been charged with importing and selling ancient artifacts.
The Huffington Post reports that Hobby Lobby was being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and accused of smuggling ancient Iraqi artifacts into the U.S. at its Oklahoma headquarters and then selling the artifacts in their stores.
The items were allegedly from Turkey and Israel, but were determined to actually be from Iraq. Some of the items included ancient cuneiform writing tablets and clay bullae or seals.
The items were reportedly meant to be displayed at the new Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. The Green family who owns Hobby Lobby is also funding the Museum which is slated to open in November.
The lawsuit against Hobby Lobby was reportedly several years in the making. In 2010, a cultural property law expert warned company officials that some of the artifacts they were importing may have been obtained illegally from archaeological sites. The lawyer warned that continuing to import these items could lead to trouble with the DOJ.
“American collectors and importers must ensure compliance with laws and regulations that require truthful declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so that Customs officers are able to scrutinize cultural property crossing our borders and prevent the inappropriate entry of such property,” stated Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Hobby Lobby has chosen not to fight the lawsuit, but has reportedly settled, agreeing to forfeit the artifacts and pay millions in fines.
Publication date: July 6, 2017