Dinosaur skeleton sold despite dispute
21 May 2012, 17:18
New York - A nearly intact skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus sold for $1.05m
at auction in New York on Sunday, although the sale has been disputed by
the Mongolian government, which has questioned whether it was obtained
The skeleton of the Tyrannosaurus bataar, a smaller
Asian cousin of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex that roamed North America
during the Cretaceous period about 80 million years ago, measures 2.4m
tall and 7.3m long, according to a statement by Heritage Auctions, which
conducted the sale in New York.
It was discovered in the Gobi
Desert, which stretches across portions of northern China and southern
Mongolia. Heritage Auctions President Greg Rohan said he does not know
in which country the skeleton was found.
The body of the skeleton
is 75% complete and the head is about 80% complete, said David
Herskowitz, the director of Heritage's natural history department. By
contrast, he said, most dinosaur skeletons on display in museums are
"50% complete or less".
Heritage declined to identify the buyer, who submitted the winning bid by telephone.
sale will not be completed, however, until a court fight launched by
the Mongolian government last week is resolved. The Mongolian government
obtained a temporary restraining order against the sale in Texas state
district court in Dallas, where Heritage is based.
A US lawyer for the Mongolian government tried to interrupt the sale on Sunday afternoon in New York, Heritage said.
am very surprised that Heritage Auctions Inc knowingly defied a valid
court order, particularly with the judge on the phone, listening and
ready to explain his order," Houston attorney Robert Painter, who is
representing the Mongolian government, said in a statement.
said a restraining order from a state court in Texas was not
enforceable in New York, where the sale occurred. Nonetheless, he said,
Heritage has agreed not to complete the sale until "a court signs off on
In a statement last week, Mongolian President Elbegdorj
Tsakhia said if the skeleton had been found in Mongolia, "it was illegal
to auction the T-Rex and the fossil must be returned to Mongolia".
said the remains "entered the United States legally" and were offered
for sale by a "reputable consignor who is well known to us".