February 1, 2023

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The head of this reptile has been sold in the millions. How much fortune do you have to spend right now on fabled fossils?

Sotheby’s in New York is one of the most famous and oldest auction houses in the world. It was founded in the 18th century and since then many valuable items have been sold every year. Although we expect record sums from a luxury watch or automobile auction, fossils can also descend here on the trunk.

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As mentioned guardianA Tyrannosaurus head recently sold at Sotheby’s for $6,069,500, which is less than PLN 27 million. One of the more complete skulls of this Mesozoic reptile, dubbed Maximus, has gone to a private collector.

Fossils descend on the trunk. New trend in the auction market?

This isn’t the first impressive sale of fossils this year. In the summer of 2022, a Gorgosaurus skeleton was sold for more than $6 million – and more importantly, it was one of twenty fossil skeletons of this dinosaur ever discovered. It was also auctioned off by a private buyer at Sotheby’s.

However, a record amount has been paid for a dinosaur pit at another auction house. In 2020, a complete dinosaur skeleton named Stan was sold at Christie’s for exactly $31.8 million (PLN 140 million).

Why so much interest in buying such “items”? It turns out that more and more collectors appreciate the “beauty” of dinosaurs and the condition of their wallets allows them to purchase whole fossil skeletons. Popular culture has also contributed a lot, making dinosaurs famous through movies for example. The first millionth purchase of a fossilized reptile took place in 1997, a few years after the premiere of the “Jurassic Park” series.

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It should also be noted that the sale of fossils depends on the law in which the specimen was found. Some countries consider all finds to be the property of the state, while others consider them to be the property of the person on whose territory the specimen was found. Many valuable fossils end up in private hands, not museum objects, because the latter usually cannot compete with the quantity for which they offer to buy them. Thus, on the one hand, the increased interest in specimens of prehistoric reptiles may be amusing, but on the other hand, it raises fears that the world of science may lose forever the elements of possible research, thanks to which we will discover more secrets of the lost world.

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