Hobby Lobby to Pay $3M Fine, Return Smuggled Iraqi Artifacts
It was announced yesterday that Hobby Lobby will hand over thousands of illicit Iraqi artifacts, according to reports. The arts-and-crafts retail chain is to pay $3 million to settle a civil forfeiture action brought by the Department of Justice, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday. It began to collect "historically significant manuscripts, antiquities and other cultural materials" since 2009. According to prosecutors, Hobby Lobby agreed to buy over 5,500 ancient artifacts, including cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, for $1.6 million — even though it was warned about the purchases previously. The Justice Department filed a civil complaint against Hobby Lobby on Wednesday, prompting the company to agree to forfeit the artifacts and pay a $3 million fine.
Total Retail's Take: According to federal law enforcement officials, the products in question were sent to three corporate addresses in Oklahoma City with misleading shipping labels that described them as “ceramic tiles” or “clay tiles (sample).” In addition, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated that all American collectors and importers must be in compliance with laws and regulations when shipping goods overseas, particularly when it involves cultural property crossing borders.