It may not be a Matisse, or a Warhol, but this multimillion-dollar sale at Christie’s comes from the hand of a different kind of artist: Mother Nature.
Late on Thursday, Christie’s sold the skeleton of a Deinonychus antirrhopus — a species that became one of the world’s most recognizable dinosaurs after the release of the movie “Jurassic Park” — for $12.4 million, with fees, to an undisclosed buyer. The auction continues the trend of high-priced fossil sales, a pattern that has irked some paleontologists, who fear that specimens could become lost to science if they are bought by private individuals rather than public institutions.
The auction house said the fossil, nicknamed Hector, was the first public sale of a Deinonychus, an agile, bipedal dinosaur known for the menacing claws on its feet. The sale price was more than double the auction house’s estimated high of $6 million.
The species most likely would not be getting so much attention if not for “Jurassic Park.” In the novel and 1993 movie, the beasts called velociraptors are actually more like a Deinonychus (the novel’s author, Michael Crichton, once admitted that “velociraptor” just sounded more dramatic).
This skeletal specimen contains 126 real bones, but the rest are reconstructed, including most of the skull, the auction house said. Dating back roughly 110 million years, to the Early Cretaceous period, the specimen was excavated from private land in Montana about a decade ago by Jack and Roberta Owen, self-taught paleontologists, according to Jared Hudson, a commercial paleontologist who bought and prepared the specimen. It was later purchased by the most recent owner, who remains anonymous.
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