Middle East

Hobby Lobby Returns ‘Priceless’ Artifacts Smuggled from Iraq

Federal investigation fines Steve Green’s company $3 million.
Hobby Lobby Returns ‘Priceless’ Artifacts Smuggled from Iraq

Hobby Lobby president Steve Green’s collection of historic Bibles and ancient artifacts—one of the largest in the world—is now 5,500 items smaller.

The billionaire Christian craft mogul and chairman of the forthcoming Museum of the Bible has surrendered thousands of cuneiform tablets and seals bought by Hobby Lobby, after federal prosecutors determined the material came from war-torn Iraq and not Turkey or Israel as customs forms had claimed.

His company also paid a $3 million fine in a settlement, federal officials announced yesterday in district court.

Laws in the United States and Iraq ban the purchase of cultural artifacts suspected of being illegally removed from the country, deeming it property of the state instead.

While many art and history museums have backed away from acquisitions from the Middle East over fear of ending up with goods plundered by ISIS, Hobby Lobby has spent the past several years growing its ancient collections.

The settlement involves a slice of ...

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