Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned arts and crafts chain known for winning a landmark Supreme Court case over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, is back in federal court, filing a lawsuit to recoup more than $7 million from an Oxford professor who allegedly sold the retail craft chain stolen artifacts for its planned Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
According to the suit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, associate professor of papyrology and Greek literature Dr. Dirk Obbink fraudulently sold Hobby Lobby ancient papyri fragments that turned out to be stolen from the Egyptian Exploration Society (EES). The allegedly stolen papyri fragments were purchased in seven private sale agreements between 2010 and 2013.
Hobby Lobby in 2017 consented to pay a $3 million federal fine and forfeit thousands of ancient Iraqi artifacts smuggled from the Middle East after the government said the pieces were intentionally mislabeled.
Earlier this year, the Museum of the Bible returned 5,000 manuscripts and bits of papyrus to Egypt. The country had “long asserted the items were ferreted from the country in 2011 amid the upheavals of the Arab Spring,” as The New York Times reported in January.