The arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby is agreeing to pay $3 million and hand over thousands of ancient Iraqi artifacts that were said to be bought without proper documents, in a settlement of the complaint filed by the Department of Justice. ancient artifacts are said to be included of one of the earliest systems of writing, tablets, and bricks that were written in cuneiform, as well as other artifacts that were shipped without enough legal documents.

Hobby Lobby: Ignored numerous "risks" about the artifacts

According to The Hill, Hobby Lobby made an agreement to acquire over 5,500 artifacts in December 2010 for an all-in deal of $1.6 million.

DOJ said that the retailer had been consistently "warned" by many experts that buying such items contained a risk that items may have been taken from Iraqi archaeological sites without undergoing legal process.

There have been many instances that the company should have detected that the artifacts they have bought are suspicious but wilfully ignored them. One instance is that when the company received conflicting information wherein the artifacts had been stored prior to the inspection in the United Arabe of Emirates. There was also once when the Iraqi crafts were presented for inspection to company’s consultant and president and discovered that the packaging was labeled misleadingly.

Hobby Lobby: Agreed to adopt internal policies for importing cultural property

With the recent incident, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green admits their fault in the case and said: “ they should have carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled and exercised more oversight in acquiring it.” Steve also said that the company has been an active participant with the government’s investigation and fully supports its efforts to preserve the world’s ancient heritage.

And with the announcement of the recent settlement agreement, Steve is pleased to say that the issue has been resolved.

The crafts retailer started acquiring historic religious artifacts for them to protect for the next generations and to provide access to historians and scholars. The company admits that they are new in acquiring these ancient crafts and do not fully know the complexities in acquiring them legally.

They said that they just negligently relied on dealers and shippers who, in hindsight did not fully understand the legal way to document and ship the said items. According to Steve, "the recent incident resulted to them to regrettable mistakes that they will never forget."