Nicolas Cage Agrees to Return Stolen Dinosaur Skull Worth 276,000 USD
Back in 2007, a natural history-themed luxury auction in Manhattan has the skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar as its star artifact. The auction for the said artifact reached $276,000 and an anonymous buyer won the bid. However, it was later found out that the skull of the Tyrannosaurus bataar is a stolen artifact from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, and the anonymous buyer turns out to be Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage. Incidentally, Cage is one of the lead actors in “Natural Treasures”, a movie franchise about hunting for rare treasures.
According to a Reuters report, Cage’s publicist said that indeed was able to buy the skull from the Beverly Hills gallery I.M. Chait in 2007. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security contacted the actor and Nicolas Cage agrees to return stolen dinosaur skull worth 276,000 USD.
Office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan has been working in returning artifacts taken from Mongolia since 2012. The Tyrannosaurus bataar skull bought by Nicolas Cage came from a seller in Florida. Most of the stolen artifacts were traced to Eric Prokopi who is a native of Florida. He was actually arrested and charged with smuggling illegal goods and possessing stolen property in 2012. Prokopi was sentenced to 3months imprisonment in 2014. On his part, he has assisted the prosecutors in recovering at least 17 other fossils. And in recent years there have been a number of Tyrannosaurus bataar skeletons that have been returned to Mongolia.
According to Glenn Sorge, a special agent from the office of Preet Bharara, “Cultural artifacts such as this Bataar Skull represent a part of Mongolian national cultural heritage. It belongs to the people of Mongolia. These priceless antiquities are not souvenirs to be sold to private collectors or hobbyists,” he said.
Aside from his interest in real estates, rare cars, and comic books, Nicolas Cage is also an ardent collector. In 2011, his like-new copy of Action Comics No. 1, where Superman first appeared, was sold for $2.1 million.