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LAMENTABLY ENOUGH, ANTIQUITIES are as accessible to bad guys as to legitimate people. This was an earlier topic here at SimanaitisSays. Here are updates of antiquity cons, inspired by references at Ozy Daily Dose, September 16, 2021.

Hobby Lobby’s Side Hobby? Jane Arraf’s article “D.C. Museum of the Bible to Return Looted Artifacts to Iraq,” NPR, July 31, 2020, described what appears to be perp atonement. 

Arraf wrote, “The Museum of the Bible was founded by billionaire Steve Green, an evangelical Christian whose family owns the Hobby Lobby craft store chain. He wanted to show the book’s history and impact, but he didn’t know much about antiquities or the illegal market for them or show much concern. Three years ago, the U.S. government fined Hobby Lobby $3 million for lack of due diligence…. Now the museum’s chief curator, Jeff Kloha, tells us they’re packing up more pieces to return to Iraq because they can’t tell whether they were looted.”

On a related matter, Arraf noted, “The Museum of the Bible has faced scandals on even more prominent acquisitions, including one still unfolding. One of the museum’s prized holdings is an ancient Jewish prayer book used by what was then a thriving Jewish community in Afghanistan. Hobby Lobby believed the prayer book had been in the U.K. since the 1950s, which would have made it legal to purchase, but a museum investigation has confirmed that it was in Afghanistan in 1998.”

Arraf concluded that the museum has been “going through its entire 40,000-piece collection with almost half of it now determined to either be potentially looted or fake.” 

Real Gold, Versace Gold. Ben Lewis wrote about “Kim Kardashian and the Mystery of the Golden Coffin,” The Times U.K., July 17, 2021. 

Mascara, 2021 A.D. and 1 B.C. Image by Landon Nordeman/The New York Times/Redux/Eyevine from The Times U.K.

“The reality TV star and Egyptian antiquities don’t often get mentioned in the same breath,” Ozy notes, “but in 2018 a gold-clad Kardashian was photographed at the Met Gala next to a similarly dazzling Egyptian artifact. The photo provided a lead for a long-running investigation into the whereabouts of the golden coffin of Nedjemankh, a first-century B.C. priest, stolen by tomb raiders during the Egyptian revolution in 2011.” 

Ozy continues, “The object—and a forged export license —was bought by the Met for $4 million in 2017. Investigators subpoenaed the New York museum and it was handed over to Egyptian officials, all thanks to the viral picture of Kardashian—who was herself named in a civil suit this year as the intended recipient of an illegally imported Roman statue.”

Revolving Antiquities. Reuters reports that “Iraq Says U.S. to Return 17,000 Ancient Artifacts Looted After Invasion,” August 3, 2021. “Tens of thousands of antiquities,” Reuters says, “disappeared from Iraq after the 2003 invasion that toppled leader Saddam Hussein. Many more were smuggled or destroyed by the iconoclastic Islamic State group, which held a third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017 before it was defeated by Iraqi and international forces.”

“After 2014,” Reuters continues, “Islamic State, which preached an intolerant and extremist interpretation of Islam, raided and wrecked historical sites on what UNESCO called an ‘industrial’ scale, using loot to fund its operations through a smuggling network extending through the Middle East and beyond.” 

Included among the returned objects is the 3500-year-old clay tablet bearing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, part of the Museum of the Bible stash. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021  

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