WASHINGTON, D.C. – Federal prosecutors are pushing to return a 3,500-year-old artifact to Iraq after it was obtained illegally and brought to the United States.
According to CBS7, Hobby Lobby purchased the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet from Christie’s – an international auction house. The tablet is inscribed with a portion of “The Epic of Gilgamesh” which is considered as one of the world’s oldest works of literature.
The president of Hobby Lobby is also the chairman of the museum. the museum purchased the tablet for $1.6 million in 2014. Hobby Lobby and the museum claim Christie’s lied to them about the artifact’s origins and are suing them for fraud and breach of contract.
The auction house claims any “illicit activity predated their involvement” and calls claims they the transaction was illegal “unsubstantiated.”
The tablet was seized last year by law enforcement agents from the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. If the tablet is forfeited to the U.S, the DOJ will decide if it will be returned to Iraq. Prosecutors filed a civil complaint last week that seeks to make the forfiet possible.