Oklahoma City based retail giant Hobby Lobby has filed a federal lawsuit claiming they were sold stolen biblical artifacts.
It’s another biblical artifact dispute for the craft retailer - this time with Hobby Lobby on the offensive.
The artifacts in question are ancient papyrus fragments including writings from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, some allegedly dating back to the first century. Hobby Lobby claims at least 32 of those ancient artifacts were stolen.
The lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of New York aim at “one of the world's leading scholars of ancient papyri," Dirk Obbink.
Hobby Lobby claims between 2010 and 2013 they purchased more than $7 million worth of artifacts from Obbink, who with his access as a lecturer at the University of Oxford, stole the artifacts from the Egypt Exploration Society.
The lawsuit claims “To date, thirty-two (32) items have been identified as having been stolen by Obbink from EES and sold directly to Hobby Lobby.”
According to the MacAuthur Foundation, where Obbrink was once celebrated with a genius award, he was banned from accessing the collection of ancient artifacts in 2019 and dismissed from faculty at the University of Oxford in 2021.
The ancient papyrus problems are the latest in controversy surrounding Hobby Lobby's Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.
In 2017, the company was slapped with a multi-million dollar fine after importing Iraqi artifacts the Department of Justice claims were looted. Hobby Lobby forfeited the items and paid a $3 million fine as part of a settlement with the DOJ.
The company did not respond to News 9’s request for comment on the lawsuit Monday.