U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York

Hobby Lobby to give back thousands of smuggled antiquities, pay a $3 million fine

Arts and crafts megachain Hobby Lobby has agreed to pay a $3 million settlement and forfeit over 5000 ancient artifacts illegally smuggled out of Iraq, The New York Times reports. In 2010, the Oklahoma-based retailer purchased the objects for $1.6 million from an unidentified dealer in an acquisition that was “fraught with red flags,” federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The antiquities, which include clay talismans and cuneiform tablets that display writing invented by the Sumerians, were falsely labeled as “tiles” and shipped to the United States through Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Once Hobby Lobby returns the items, the U.S. government will post a notice for the artifacts’ owners to claim them. After 60 days, the Iraqi government will be able to submit its claim, but the Department of Justice will have the last word on where the antiquities will end up.

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