Nicholas Cage Becomes Unwitting Pawn In Dinosaur Fossil Black Market

Nicholas Cage is making headlines following an incident that forced him to return the skull of a dinosaur, which Cage had purchased for $276,000. According to multiple sources, the skull had been stolen prior to having been sold at auction, and was that of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, also known as a Tarbosaurus.

National Treasure Star Nicholas Cage returns the stolen skull to its rightful owner

Nicholas Cage
Nicholas Cage returns rare dinosaur skull, after learning it was stolen. Image via Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

In 2007, Cage purchased the skull of the Tyrannosaurus bataar at a private auction, outbidding fellow actor Leonardo Di Caprio. The purchase cost Nicholas $276,000, but the actor seemed happy with it, until he recently learned that the fossil was actually the property of the Mongolian government.

The auction took place at I.M Chait, a Beverly Hills auction house. At the time of purchase, the auctioneer provided Cage with a certificate of authenticity and neither Nicholas nor I.M. Chait are suspected of wrongdoing in the matter. However, the issue of whether or not that $276,000 will be refunded to Cage is still to be decided.

The Tyrannosaurus bataar skull received this unwanted attention when the department of Homeland Security contacted Mr. Cage to inform him that the artifact may have been illegally smuggled into the United States. From there, an investigation was launched that delved into the skull’s past whereabouts and previous owners. Eventually, it was learned that the object had once been linked to convicted paleontologist and profiteer Eric Prokopi.

Following this discovery, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed a complaint about the skull, which, in part, referred to Prokopi as a “one-man black market in prehistoric fossils.”

In 2012, Eric Prokopi pleaded guilty to smuggling the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus bataar into the country from Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. Prokopi was subsequently sentenced to prison.

Nicholas Cage became a hero once more, earlier this month

Nicholas Cage, Britton Ramsey
Nicholas Cage poses with Britton Ramsey in the hopes that it would help find his stepdaughter. Image via Facebook/Nicholas Cage.

Cage became an internet sensation and a hero to one family in particular when he used his vast social media presence to help bring one missing girl home to her parents. Alexis Boroviak, a missing 15-year-old girl, was found and her abductor captured, after Nicholas Cage agreed to pose with the poster for the missing girl, along with Alexis’ stepfather, Britton Ramsey.

The case went viral, as the image with Cage hit the social media sites, and Alexis was found a short time later. Ms. Boroviak had been abducted and held against her will by 41-year-old Chris Schroeder, a man she had met via an internet dating website.

At the time that Alexis was found and returned home, Mr. Ramsey told reporters that the use of Cage’s image definitely helped to spread the word. Even in more dangerous neighborhoods, Ramsey was recognized as “that Nicholas Cage guy” and, as a result, people would volunteer to help him look for his stepdaughter.

Eventually, police investigators tracked down the whereabouts of Alexis and her kidnapper by tracing her social media links. Back tracing led the police to Schroeder’s computer IP address.

Britton says that he has not seen Nicholas since the two men posed together. He added that he would like to see Cage again so he could buy him a beer in appreciation.

Say what you will about some of Nicholas Cage’s films, there’s no denying that he excels far better as a human being than so many of his peers. Whether he’s showing his integrity by returning stolen dinosaur heads without putting up a fuss, or lending his own head to help save a teenage girl’s life, Mr. Cage can always be counted upon to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Currently in production, Nicholas Cage will be starring on the Alex Brewer/Ben Brewer crime drama, The Trust.

[Featured image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]