Hobby Lobby to forfeit artifacts, pay $3M fine

Hobby Lobby to forfeit artifacts, pay $3M fine

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Hobby Lobby Stores will forfeit thousands of improperly acquired ancient biblical artifacts and pay a $3 million fine in a civil settlement the Department of Justice announced July 5.

The settlement closed a federal investigation of the store’s 2010 purchase and subsequent importation of more than 5,500 artifacts from dealers who did not disclose the items’ Iraqi origin. Hobby Lobby paid $1.6 million for the artifacts, including Assyrian and Babylonian cuneiform tablets, bricks and clay bullae used in ancient writings and seals.

Hobby Lobby faces no criminal liability but in a corporate statement president Steve Green admitted to “regrettable mistakes” and “imprudently” relying on certain dealers and shippers. Hobby Lobby’s inexperience in acquiring such artifacts was a contributing factor in the ordeal, he said.

Hobby Lobby has cooperated fully with the investigation and is pleased to settle the dispute, Green said in the corporate statement.

“We have accepted responsibility and learned a great deal,” Green said. “Our entire (Hobby Lobby) team is committed to the highest standards for investigating and acquiring these items.” (BP)