On Wednesday, the arts and crafts chain store Hobby Lobby surrendered 245 cylinder seals that are believed to have been smuggled out of Iraq and were improperly imported into the US. This group of artifacts, which were handed over to prosecutors in New York, brings the total number of ancient objects seized from Hobby Lobby to 3,839, according to Newsweek. In July of last year, the company agreed to pay a $3 million fine and hand over 5,548 smuggled artifacts.
“We have accepted responsibility and learned a great deal,” Hobby Lobby President Steve Green said in a statement at the time. “Our entire team is committed to the highest standards for investigating and acquiring these items. Our passion for the Bible continues, and we will do all that we can to support the efforts to conserve items that will help illuminate and enhance our understanding of this Great Book.”
Green is an evangelical Christian and the chairman of the recently opened Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, which is believed to have been the intended destination of the thousands of seized artifacts. Many have questioned the Museum of the Bible’s presentation of ancient artifacts and accompanying scholarship, suggesting that it amounts to Christian propaganda.
According to a Department of Justice letter confirming the forfeiture of the 245 cylinder seals, the artifacts “constitute merchandise that was introduced or attempted to be introduced into the United States contrary to law,” the Long Island Business News reported.
According to information released at the time of the July 2017 bust, shipments of ancient artifacts to Hobby Lobby were systematically mislabeled, indicating that they contained ceramic tile samples and had originated in Turkey. The Justice Department’s investigation found that Green and a consultant had traveled to the United Arab Emirates in July 2010 to inspect a trove of cuneiform tablets. Five months later, Hobby Lobby made a deal to pay $1.6 million for 5,548 artifacts. After this week’s forfeiture, the arts and crafts store chain still owes US prosecutors more than 1,700 ancient Iraqi artifacts.
Before making headlines with its ill-gotten antiquities, Hobby Lobby was best known for refusing to provide employees with emergency contraceptives and for suing the US government for trying to make it do so. Hobby Lobby, which was founded by Steve Green’s father David Green, has more than 800 stores and employs over 28,000 people throughout the US. According to Forbes, in 2016 the company’s revenue totaled $4.3 billion.
MTV’s The Exhibit Is Back With an Inflatable Dolphin
Episode four, in which artists tackled themes of justice and injustice, was the most lifeless of the reality TV show so far.
Florida Principal Ousted Over “Pornographic” Michelangelo Sculpture
Parents complained that the famous sculpture was shown to their sixth graders.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
Tickets to Sold-Out Vermeer Show Are Going for Hundreds
The online resale market for the Rijksmuseum’s smash exhibition is booming, with tickets selling on eBay for over $2K.
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
Miniature Worlds: Joseph Cornell, Ray Johnson, Yayoi Kusama
Through small-scale works, this exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York examines Cornell’s prominent role in the lives and careers of Johnson and Kusama.
Three Looted Antiquities at the Met Repatriated to Turkey
Nine other repatriated works were seized from Met Trustee Shelby White, whose collection was subject to a criminal investigation.
This week, the world’s lightest paint, Pakistan’s feminist movement, World Puppy Day, and were some of Vermeer’s paintings created by his daughter?
The Wider World and Scrimshaw
On March 28, join the New Bedford Whaling Museum online and in-person for a symposium on global carving traditions from across the Pacific Rim.
Who Will Decide on the Future of a Miami Native Burial Ground?
Native activists say sacred remains and objects dug up from a Brickell construction site should remain there, but mega-developer Jorge Pérez is pushing back.
How Can a Curator Approach South Asian Futurisms?
How do I acknowledge my shortcomings while reckoning with obscured histories and the exclusion of subaltern narratives in the fine art landscape? A working checklist for curators.
MCA Chicago Presents On Stage: Frictions
Will Rawls, Shamel Pitts | TRIBE, and Barak adé Soleil explore Blackness, queerness, movement, and dance in performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
The Complicated Legacy of Camilo Egas
The Ecuadorian painter, a leading figure of Latin America’s Indigenismo art movement, has been both praised and scorned for his representation of Indigenous peoples.
Tom Jones Zeroes in on Ho-Chunk Visibility
“I think about the young kids, the teenagers, and I think being able to see yourself represented in art is so powerful,” says the artist.