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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Sotheby’s Receives $6.1 Million for a T. Rex Skull, Which Is Significantly Less Than Anticipated

This past year, a single tail vertebra from a long-necked dinosaur was sold at auction for a price that was more than $8,000. A single spike taken from the tail of a Stegosaurus brought in more than $20,000 at auction. A tooth from a Tyrannosaurus rex? Over one hundred thousand dollars.

Sotheby’s projected that a T. rex skull it was auctioning would bring between $15 million and $20 million in today’s robust market for dinosaur fossils. The market for dinosaur fossils has been rising. On the other hand, the specimen was purchased by an unknown buyer for a total of $6.1 million, which included all of the expenses associated with the transaction.

The auction raised questions about whether the gold rush moment for dinosaurs — which has upset a large number of academic palaeontologists who fear that their research is being turned into trophies — was showing signs of ebbing. This is because many academic palaeontologists fear that their research is being turned into trophies.

The planned auction of a larger T. rex specimen, which was anticipated to sell for between $15 million and $25 million, was scrapped by Christie’s in Hong Kong after questions were raised about how much real dinosaur bone was included in the lot. As a result, the sale that will take place in New York comes as a result of this.

According to Todd Levin, an experienced art expert, the failure of the Christie’s auction may have introduced some doubt into the market for fossils. He made this statement.

Dinosaur fossils have been a benefit to the auction houses so far this year. Earlier in the year, Christie’s sold a Deinonychus skeleton for $12.4 million, while Sotheby’s sold a Gorgosaurus skeleton for $6.1 million.

Concerning the Christie’s T. rex specimen, which was given the name “Shen” by the auction house and was put up for auction by an unknown consignor, the questions centred on the proportion of the skeleton that consisted of replica bone from another dinosaur, which is a common practise when mounting skeletons.

The replica bones used in Shen were castings from a renowned specimen known as Stan. Stan shattered the record for the sale of a fossil when it was sold at Christie’s auction two years ago for $31.8 million, which supercharged the industry. The duplicate bones were utilised in Shen.

According to Sotheby’s, the skull known as Maximus that was sold at the auction on Friday was augmented with resin casts of another T. rex that was possessed by the unknown seller, who also prepped the specimen for sale. The purchasers were shown a schematic of a skull that had the genuine bone coloured in, and they were informed by the auction company that the skull “contains 30 bones of the estimated total of 39 bones.”

According to the auction house, the fossilised skull was found on private property in a region in the northwest corner of South Dakota that is well-known for the abundance of fossils.

Academic palaeontologists have been frustrated for years by the high prices for fossils. They are concerned that academically significant specimens would be sold off to affluent collectors so that they may display them in their mansions. As the prices of auction items continue to climb, specialists working in museums and colleges are becoming more anxious that establishments similar to their own may be priced out of the market.

However, James G. Napoli, a palaeontologist and researcher at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, stated that Maximus seemed to be of significant importance to the field of science, in contrast to other specimens that have been put up for auction and did not impress scientists to the point where they were concerned about their potential loss.

It is common practise for auction houses to state that they, too, have the goal that the specimens they sell will be shown in museums for the general public to enjoy and for scientists to study; but, auction businesses do not have influence over who submits the winning offer.

National Geographic revealed that the specimen of Stan the T. rex would be housed in a natural history museum that is currently under construction in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, after a period of more than a year during which the whereabouts of the T. rex were shrouded in mystery.

When there have been few historical parallels to a specimen, it might be difficult to determine how much it is worth, as was stated in a statement released by Hatton following the sale on Friday.

The auction house Sotheby’s played a significant part in the development of dinosaur bones as the primary attraction at auctions. Following a protracted legal dispute concerning who should own the skeleton of a T. rex known as Sue, an auction house eventually parted ways with the specimen in 1997 and sold it to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago for the sum of $8.4 million (or $15.4 million when adjusted for inflation).

Henry Galiano, a fossil appraiser who was a consultant for Sotheby’s on both Sue and Maximus, hailed the newly sold skull as a valuable study specimen, pointing out indications of scarring and lesions from a suspected illness. Sue and Maximus were both auctioned off by Sotheby’s. According to him, the presence of a number of tiny holes on the surface is evidence that insects may have fed on the body before it was buried.

The specimen had been largely eroded when it was found, but in addition to the skull, the buyer will also get a partial scapula and other fragmented bones that are thought to be from the same person. This is because it is believed that all of the bones were from the same individual.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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