Christie’s auction house decided to withdraw the sale of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton after a paleontologist alerted organizers to his belief that it was made up of mostly copyrighted replica bones from another specimen.
The auction was promoted to be the highlight Christie’s Hong Kong sales and was set to be the first Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton auctioned in Asia with the auction house hoping to draw in between $15 million and $25 million, according to estimates.
As Smithsonian reported, just days before the auction, Christie’s removed the “Shen” T. rex fossil from its catalog saying it would “benefit from further study.”
Questions remained over how much of Shen was actually a replica of Stan, a T. rex that was auctioned off just two years ago at a record sales price.
Edward Lewine, a Christie’s spokesperson, said, “After consultation with the consignor of the Tyrannosaurus rex scheduled for sale on 30 November in Hong Kong, Christie’s has decided to withdraw the lot.”
“The consignor has now decided to loan the specimen to a museum for public display,” Lewine said.
Peter Larson, president of fossil company Black Hills Institute of Geological Research said he believed Shen appeared similar to the other T. rex fossil.
He and his team excavated it in 1992 and his organization sold the bones for “Stan” through Christie’s auction house for a record $31.8 million in 2020, and also kept intellectual property rights over the fossil.
Holes in the specimen known as “Shen” were noticed by Larson in its left jaw, which is what prompted his team to notify Christie’s.