Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Christie’s Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The dispute concerns the ownership of an ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform tablet bearing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, c. 1600 BC. Christie’s sold the Tablet to Hobby Lobby in a private sale in 2014.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York filed a lawsuit yesterday for civil forfeiture seeking to recover the Tablet on the grounds that it was stolen from Iraq and imported into the United States in violation of U.S. criminal law and import restrictions on Iraqi cultural material.
Hobby Lobby filed its lawsuit today seeking a refund of the $1,674,000 Purchase Price and alleging claims of fraud and breach of contract against Christie’s.
Pearlstein & McCullough LLP represents Hobby Lobby in this matter. Michael McCullough, who is leading the case for P&M, said: “This lawsuit seeks a recovery for Hobby Lobby based upon promises Christie’s made when it sold the Gilgamesh Tablet to Hobby Lobby in 2014. We will be joining our lawsuit with the Government’s forfeiture action. We are confident that we will be successful in recovering the Purchase Price from Christie’s.”
The case is Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v Christie’s and John Doe #1, No. 20 CV 2239 (EDNY). The Government’s forfeiture action is United States v. One Cuneiform Tablet known as the “Gilgamesh Dream Tablet”, No. 20 CV 2222 (EDNY).
Pearlstein & McCullough LLP is a New York law firm specializing in transactions, disputes and regulatory matters in the international art market. The P&M team is led by Michael McCullough, who is assisted by William Pearlstein, Anju Uchima, and Duncan Levin.