Hobby Lobby In Court Actions

On May 18, 2020, The US Department of Justice in New York filed a civil complaint Monday demanding that Hobby Lobby forfeit a rare cuneiform tablet bearing a portion of the epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian epic poem considered one the world’s oldest works of literature. Known as the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, it originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and entered the United States contrary to federal law. See the Justice Department's Press Release here.

The move comes as a result of work conducted by the Cultural Property, Arts & Antiquities team at Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division.

The government's action against the beleaguered company (at least in terms of antiquities) prompted Hobby Lobby to file its own suit against Christies for fraud and breach of warranty based on the sale of the cuneiform. In a statement, Hobby Lobby's attorney Michael McCullough said "In 2014 and again in 2017, Christie’s affirmed to Hobby Lobby that the...provenance was correct, that they had checked it and that it was accurate," adding that "a dealer who had bought the tablet in 2003, reselling it in 2007, made up the ...provenance.”

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