Bones of Contention
According to documents obtained by The Observer this morning, a judge has signed a warrant for the much-contested Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton, which was sold at auction last month for over $1 million.
As we reported Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s office filed a civil complaint aiming to return the fossil to Mongolia, where the suit alleges the fossil originated (and was looted from).
Today, agents from Homeland Security Investigations will seize the skeleton and move it to a government facility in New York where the government holds art and antiquities that are awaiting repatriation, Lou Martinez, a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit of the Department of Homeland Security, told The Observer.
Bones of Contention
Since last month’s auction-gone-wrong, a near-complete Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton valued at over a million dollars has been sitting in crates at Cadogan Tate, an art storage facility in Sunnyside, Queens, protected by a temporary restraining order. The origin of the skeleton was contested by expert paleontologists and the president of Mongolia himself—they suspected looting, and wanted the bones returned home.
Today, Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a joint investigation with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, announced that they had filed a civil complaint in Manhattan Federal Court seeking seizure and forfeiture of the skeleton so it can be returned to Mongolia.
Who among us has not dreamed of one day owning a life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, like the one in the lobby of Jurassic Park that eventually gets destroyed when the real T-rex does battle with the raptors? Next to owning an actual dinosaur, a dinosaur skeleton is the next best thing, especially since it can’t turn against you and eat all your loved ones.
Unfortunately, The Natural History Museum has a nasty habit of buying up all the dinosaur bones and keeping them out of the hands of private owners, so they can charge their exorbitant museum fees and not let you even touch the 70-year-old fossils. Lame.
But that will all change this Sunday, thanks to the best auction item in the history of New York: an 8-foot tall, 24-feet wide Tyrannosaurus bataar.