On May 20th, a 75% complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a.k.a. Tarbosaurus, a.k.a. take-me-home-sized Jurassic Park menace, sold at the esteemed Dallas-based Heritage Auctions for $1.05 million. Which was a bit more than the $15,000 that U.S. officials claim the fossil smugglers reported in their falsified importation documents. While cries of foul play barraged the auction house, including this thoroughly sourced condemnation from Wired, it rebuffed those complaints in stiff-upper-lip-style and sold the skeleton, but acquiesced to pressure after the sale and is cooperating with the Mongolian President to set the record straight.
For the moment, Heritage is straddling the line, wading through a civil suit by the U.S. attorney’s office in New York but itching to complete the transaction of the skeleton that co-founder Jim Halperin maintains was purchased by their consignor in good faith, who then spent a year putting back together what had been “a much less valuable matrix of unassembled, underlying bones.” The Mongolian President, along with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, maintain that the skeleton is a piece of the country’s natural history and should be returned, even if Heritage Auctions had spared no expense.