Dinosaur Dustup: Auctioneer, Mongolia Battle Over $1M Bones


Dinosaur Skeleton 'a Spectacular Find'

Painter said that Mongolia had asked Heritage Auctions in a letter to share the seller's identity or how he or she had acquired the skeleton. He told ABC News that when Heritage Auctions declined to release the information, "it left us with the only choice to go to court to protect that treasure."

"If they could've cooperated informally and just shown conclusive proof that it was legally obtained, there wouldn't be a problem," he said.

Sale Pending Court Ruling

Rohan, Heritage Auctions' president, said that the court's restraining order was not enforceable in New York because even though the auction house's headquarters are in Texas, the wrong company had been issued the order.

He said that the dinosaur had been sold, but that Heritage Auctions would wait to have the court validate the sale.

"We're trying to be respectful [and] respect everyone," Rohan told ABC News today. "We want to be respectful to the scientific community. ... I think it's the only appropriate, professional thing to do. We're protecting ourselves, the consignor [the seller] and the buyer."

He did not know whether that would occur in New York or Texas. Painter, Mongolia's Texas lawyer, said the next hearing on the matter was scheduled for June 1.

Painter, who attended Sunday's auction and tried to stop it, said he believed the dinosaur had originated in Mongolia. He told ABC News that this was the first time that he knew of Mongolia filing a court order to halt the sale of a dinosaur specimen.

"We want to send a message that Mongolia is serious about protecting its cultural heritage," he said. "The president's feeling is that if this originated in Mongolia and improperly taken out, it needs to be returned to the people of Mongolia."

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