Christie’s cancels controversial T-Rex auction in Hong Kong

Visitors take photos of the T-Rex skeleton named

Visitors take photos of the T-Rex skeleton named “Shen” in Singapore.

Christie’s has canceled the auction of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, the auction house told AFP on Monday, days before it was due to go under the hammer in Hong Kong.

The cancellation came after an American fossil company expressed doubts about parts of the skeleton named “Shen,” the New York Times reported on Sunday.

Christie’s said in a statement to AFP that Shen – a 1,400-kilogram (3,100-pound) skeleton – has been withdrawn from its fall auction week, which begins Friday in Hong Kong.

“The consignor has now decided to lend the specimen to a museum for public exhibition,” it said.

Shen was excavated in the US state of Montana and is 4.6 meters high and 12 meters long. It is believed to be an adult male who lived about 67 million years ago.

His auction would have followed Christie’s sale of another T-Rex skeleton named “Stan” for $31.8 million in 2020.

It’s very rare for complete dinosaur skeletons to be found, according to the Field Museum in Chicago, one of the largest natural history museums in the world.

Most of the frames on display use bone casts to complete the skeleton. The Field Museum estimates the number of bones in a T-Rex at 380.

Christie’s original materials stated that about 80 of Shen’s bones were original.

The T-Rex skeleton

The T-Rex skeleton “Stan” on display in New York City in 2020.

The controversy was sparked when Peter Larson, president of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in the United States, told the New York Times that parts of Shen Stan looked similar.

The Black Hills Institute still holds the intellectual property rights to Stan after its sale in 2020 and sells replicas of this skeleton

Larson told the newspaper it appears Shen’s owner — unidentified by Christie’s — used bones from a Stan replica to complete the skeleton.

Its spokesman, Edward Lewine, told the newspaper that Christie’s believes Shen “would benefit from further study.”

Sales of such skeletons have fetched tens of millions of dollars in recent years, but experts have described the trade as damaging to science, as the auctions could put them in private hands and out of the reach of researchers.

© 2022 AFP

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