Hobby Lobby illegally smuggled Iraqi antiquities, says US attorney

Prosecutors said Hobby Lobby was cautioned by an expert in 2010 that the artifacts could well have been looted from Iraqi archaeological sites, but the company ignored the advice.
By James Smith | Jul 08, 2017
Hobby Lobby has been forced to relinquish thousands of smuggled Iraqi artifacts and pay a settlement of $3 million, according to a statement Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, New York.

Hobby Lobby, a privately owned business, won a landmark case in 2014 when the Supreme Court ruled that the company could be allowed to opt out of the Affordable Care Act's rule that all health insurance plans must provide birth control because the company had such strong convictions that contraceptive use violated its Christian principles.

Prosecutors said Hobby Lobby was cautioned by an expert in 2010 that the artifacts could well have been looted from Iraqi archaeological sites, but the company ignored the advice.

"Hobby Lobby received conflicting information where the Artifacts had been stored" prior to their inspection in the United Arab Emirate, prosecutors said, as reported by The Los Angeles Times. "In addition Hobby Lobby representatives had not met or communicated with the dealer who purportedly owned the Artifacts, nor did they pay him for the Artifacts."

The company allegedly wired payments for the artifacts to seven individual personal bank accounts.

In addition, prosecutors said the artifacts were shipped to Hobby Lobby locations in the U.S. bearing false and misleading labels, which described some of their contents as "ceramic tiles."

Hobby Lobby said in a statement that it purchased the artifacts because of "the Company's mission and passion for the Bible" and "did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisition process." The Company also said it had "imprudently relied on dealers and shippers who, in hindsight, did not understand the correct way to document and ship these items."

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