U.S. Seizes 70 Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Skeleton from Queens Warehouse

It had been auctioned off for more than $1 million last month and was being stored at a Sunnyside art warehouse, pending the outcome of litigation

Saturday, Jun 23, 2012  |  Updated 9:28 AM EDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Weird News Photos: Easter Egg Tree

AP

An image from documents released from the U.S. Attorney's office, shows the fossil of a Tyrannosaurus bataar dinosaur at the center of a lawsuit demanding its return to Mongolia.

advertisement
Photos and Videos
More Photos and Videos

The skeleton of a 70 million-year-old dinosaur was seized by U.S. authorities  from a Queens art warehouse Friday afternoon.

The 8-foot-tall, 24-foot-long Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton sold at auction last month for more than $1 million, though the sale is contingent upon the outcome of litigation over where the fossil originated.

It was being stored at the Cadogan Tate Fine Art warehouse in Sunnyside until Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized it Friday.

The government said in court papers that the skeleton was moved in March 2010 from Great Britain to Gainesville, Fla., with erroneous papers that claimed it had originated in Great Britain and was worth only $15,000.

Federal authorities say five experts viewed the remains on June 5, agreeing unanimously that the skeleton was a Tyrannosaurus bataar and almost certainly originated in the Nemegt Basin in Mongolia, not Great Britain as the import papers claimed. It was believed to have been unearthed in the last 17 years.

A Manhattan federal judge on Tuesday ordered the transfer of the bones to U.S. custody to likely be returned to Mongolia due to the looting allegations.

Eric Prokopi, a Florida dealer of fossils who acquired the remains and constructed the skeleton, disputes the government's claims.

"I can wholeheartedly say the import documents are not fraudulent, a truth I am confident will be brought to light in the coming weeks," said Prokopi, 37. "The value was declared much lower than the auction value because, quite simply, it was loose, mostly broken bones and rocks with embedded bones. It was not what you see today, a virtually complete, mounted skeleton."

Get the latest from NBC 4 New York anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Get our apps here and sign up for email newsletters here. Get breaking news delivered right to your phone -- just text NYBREAKING to 639710. For more info, text HELP. To end, text STOP. Message and data rates may apply.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Follow us on Instagram!
We post photos taken by our news... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out