The US Department of Homeland Security is preparing to seize a 70 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Bataar that sold last month at Heritage Auctions for more than $1 million.
A New York court recently ruled that the auction house must return the fossil to modern-day Mongolia where it was discovered seven years ago and then removed illegally from the country.
The dinosaur skeleton was illegally imported to the United States from the UK in 2010.
The skeleton is currently being held by a fine art property company in Queens.
In 1924 Mongolia enacted laws to protect fossils found in the region which in turn declared those remains as property of the state.
Before the dinosaur skeleton went on sale in May officials from Mongolia objected to the sale. After the skeleton was sold the money was placed in an escrow account until a New York court was able to rule on the ownership of the dinosaur bones.
The deal who sold the skeleton says it was taken in “good faith” which led to the sale being delayed until a court ruling was issued.
According to Co-founder of Heritage Auctions Jeff Halperin:
“We have cooperated in the investigation process for palaeontologists to expeditiously examine the skeleton, and we will continue to cooperate with authorities.”
The Tyrannosaurus Bataar was exported from Britain under a claim that it was dug up in the UK and worth just $15,000.
The dinosaurs skeleton eventually arrived in Gainesville Florida in March 2010.
The discovery of Tyrannosaurus Bataars date back to 1946 when the first fossil was found in the Gobi desert.