Fossil statement

Published: Tuesday 15 July 2008

The rich and famous frequently change the medium they use to make a statement. If today it is a collection of Impressionist masters, tomorrow it can be a large family of adopted children collected from different cultures. Displaying a definite taste for the bizarre, moneyed collectors are now flocking fossil auctions like never before.

In April, a 65-million-year-old Triceratops skeleton went under the hammer in Paris, and sold for a hard-to-imagine us $789,343. In March, a prehistoric Siberian mammoth fetched a whopping us $394,662 in New York. The people who buy them are usually Hollywood A-listers, captains of industry and royalty. Hollywood actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicholas Cage even locked horns in a bidding war to obtain the head of a Tyrannosaurus bataar (the Asian cousin of T rex). Christie's, Sothebys, Bonhams, all major auction houses are doing brisk business with old bones.

This is putting many museums out of business as state funding is limited. Natural History Museum, London says its annual budget for buying all its science specimens is us $59,200.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.