If you're not up to speed on Hobby Lobby's sketchy investments in illegal artifacts from Iraq, here's the lowdown.
Over the course of a few years, the craft supply and kitschy-shit store bought over 5,500 relics from dealers in the United Arab Emirates and Israel. Some of the relics came with bullshit customs information that described them as ceramic tiles or tile samples, with the hope, I suppose, of seeing them slide through customs smooth, like poop through a goose. It was a great idea, except for the fact that, back in 2010, an expert warned Hobby Lobby that it wasn't.
An "expert on cultural property law" had warned Hobby Lobby that artifacts from Iraq, including cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, could be stolen from archaeological sites. The expert also told the company to search its collections for objects of Iraqi origin and make sure that materials were properly identified. But despite that warning, Hobby Lobby arranged to purchase thousands of antiquities – including cuneiform tablets and bricks, clay bullae and cylinder seals – for $1.6 million.
Unsurprisingly, Hobby Lobby got caught with its hand in the Middle Eastern cookie jar.
Last summer, the U.S. Justice Department released this statement, saying that they were on to the company's bullshit. In the end, Hobby Lobby was forced to pay a three-million dollar (almost twice as much as they originally paid for them) settlement and to surrender all of their ill-gotten cuneiform goods.
It's a gross story, which, earlier today, came to a sound end: all 5,500 some-odd pieces will be returned to the Iraqi government and will, according to the Iraqi Embassy, go on display in the country's National Museum.