A dinosaur skeleton was sold at a New York auction house on Sunday, despite a restraining order from the Mongolian government, stating that the bones had been exported illegally.
The skeleton, which was sold for $1,052,500, is 8 feet tall and 24 feet long, called a Tyannosaurus bataar, according to CBS News. They have not identified either the buyer or the seller. The sale is reportedly contingent on the court fight between the Dallas-based auction house and Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia.
According to Elbegdorj, the fossil, which is nearly complete, may actually belong to his country. Heritage Auction House, where the beast’s bones were sold, alleges that the specimen was obtained legally.
The New York Daily News reports that the auction came just one day after a judge in Dallas ordered the auction house not to sell the skeleton of the 80 million year fanged beast, which stalked Central Asia. The sale even occurred while Texas state District Judge Carlos R. Cortez listened via cellphone.
Robert Painter, Elbergdorj’s lawyer, stated:
“It’s an order, not a suggestion…I think Heritage Auctions has a lot of explaining to do.”
He further stated, according to CBS News, that he would be asking the judge to find Heritage Auctions in contempt of court for the sale.
CBS News reports that the sale stirred up alarm in Mongolia, where the exporting of dinosaur bones and fossils is banned. Although Heritage has “legal assurances from our reputable consignors that the specimen was obtained legally.”
At the same time, Elbegdorj’s court papers include a statement made by the American Museum of Natural History, where a paleontologist stated Mongolia is the only place in the world where the tabosaurus has been found. The court documents further state that:
“At stake are the heritage, history and culture of a sovereign nation.”
Painter further stated, according to Reuters, that:
“I am very surprised that Heritage Auctions Inc. knowingly defied a valid court order, particularly with the judge on the phone, listening and ready to explain his order.”