Nicolas Cage has done some weird things in his life and done some weird movies in his career. The following bit of news is indeed weird, but it has nothing to do with a movie at all. The actor has agreed to relinquish a very rare stolen dinosaur skull he purchased for almost $300,000 so that it may be given back to Mongolia.
Again, this is not a movie plot.
As reported by BBC, Nicolas Cage purchased a Tyrannosaurus bataar skull back in 2007 for the price of $276,000. While he was proud of his purchase, he was apparently unaware that the skull has actually been stolen and was not anyone’s to sell.
The skull is similar to that of another Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton that went on display in the Mongolian capital back in 2013.
In 2014, Cage was contacted by the Department of Homeland Security, according to Alex Schack, his publicist. It was DHS who alerted Cage to the situation and let him know that the dinosaur skull may have actually been stolen.
Investigators looked into the situation and were able to determine that the skull had been illegally taken from Mongolia. Upon hearing that, Cage agreed that he would give the dinosaur skull back so it could be returned to where it belongs.
Both Cage and the I.M. Chait Gallery in Beverly Hills have been cleared of any wrongdoing, as they were not aware it had been stolen.
The skull is set to be returned to the United States authorities, and then it will be repatriated to Mongolia. Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, did file a forfeiture complaint last week so that possession of the Tyrannosaurus bataar skull could be taken, according to RT.
The Tyrannosaurus bataar was indeed related to the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and was said to have lived approximately 70 million years ago. So far, the remains of said dinosaur have only ever been discovered in Mongolia.
According to the Telegraph back in 2013, the dinosaur skull in question was purchased by the I.M. Chait Gallery from an Eric Prokopi, who was no stranger to illegal dealings. In 2014, Prokopi was arrested and jailed for illegally exporting dinosaur remains to the United States.
Since 2012, Bharara’s office has recovered more than a dozen precious fossils from Mongolia so that they could be returned to the country. Some of those findings include three full Tyrannosaurus bataar skeletons.
In 1924, Mongolia has criminalized the removal of fossils.
There is no word on whether or not Nicolas Cage knew or had any connection to Prokopi, but investigators don’t believe so. It’s not believed that the “one-man black market in prehistoric fossils” actually ever had any contact with the actor.
Nicolas Cage is doing the admirable thing by returning the dinosaur skull he purchased many years ago, since he has now discovered it was stolen. Mongolia will be happy to receive their Tyrannosaurus bataar skull back where it was originally found and unveiled.
[Image by Jason LaVeris/Getty Images]