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Feds Investigate Hobby Lobby Owners For Illegally Bringing Biblical Artifacts To U.S.

But it's just really all a customs mixup. Sure, that's the ticket!
Feds Investigate Hobby Lobby Owners For Illegally Bringing Biblical Artifacts To U.S.
Image from: The Daily Beast

This is how it's done. Oligarchs pillage and loot so they can push their own version of history on everyone.

In 2011, a shipment of somewhere between 200 to 300 small clay tablets on their way to Oklahoma City from Israel was seized by U.S. Customs agents in Memphis. The tablets were inscribed in cuneiform—the script of ancient Assyria and Babylonia, present-day Iraq—and were thousands of years old. Their destination was the compound of the Hobby Lobby corporation, which became famous last year for winning a landmark Supreme Court case on religious freedom and government mandates. A senior law enforcement source with extensive knowledge of antiquities smuggling confirmed that these ancient artifacts had been purchased and were being imported by the deeply-religious owners of the crafting giant, the Green family of Oklahoma City. For the last four years, law enforcement sources tell The Daily Beast, the Greens have been under federal investigation for the illicit importation of cultural heritage from Iraq.

These tablets, like the other 40,000 or so ancient artifacts owned by the Green family, were destined for the Museum of the Bible, the giant new museum funded by the Greens, slated to open in Washington, D.C., in 2017. Both the seizure of the cuneiform tablets and the subsequent federal investigation were confirmed to us by Cary Summers, the president of the Museum of the Bible.

For their part, Hobby Lobby is claiming it's just screwed-up paperwork. Nothing more than that. Just a customs mix-up that has taken well over 4 years to resolve. Not really.

If someone looking to bring antiquities into the U.S. knows that the artifacts should never have left their country of origin, or lack proper provenance, the only way to get them through customs is to lie: about the country of origin, about the country of export, about the value, about the identity. (This happened recently in the case of a Picasso worth $15 million, which was listed on the customs declaration as a “handicraft” worth $37.) One source familiar with the Hobby Lobby investigation told us that this is precisely what happened in this case: that the tablets were described on their FedEx shipping label as samples of “hand-crafted clay tiles.” This description may have been technically accurate, but the monetary value assigned to them—around $300, we’re told—vastly underestimates their true worth, and, just as important, obscures their identification as the cultural heritage of Iraq.


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