One of the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossils ever unearthed is coming up for auction and could fetch between $6 million and $8 million.
The 67-million-year-old specimen, named Stan, will be auctioned off by Christie’s on Oct. 6 and will be on display in the windows of Christie’s Rockefeller Center starting Wednesday. Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti said giving the public a chance to see a 40-foot-long, open-mouthed T. rex fossil in the middle of Rockefeller Center could help lift the city’s spirits during tough times.
“We believe that after these challenging times, it was important to start the new season with something positive — a moment of joy,” Cerutti said.
Stan is one of the most famous T. rex fossils, and one of only about 50 ever discovered, with most displayed in museums. Stan has been on display for years at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota. It is one of the most complete T. rex fossils ever found, with 188 bones, the head in pristine condition, and with teeth over 11 inches long. It has often been used as the model for T. rex figurines and depictions.
The fossil was found in 1987 by amateur paleontologist Stan Sacrison, hence the fossil’s name, in the Hell Creek Formation, part of an area known as the Cretaceous Badlands, which stretches from North Dakota and South Dakota to Wyoming and Montana. Initially, it was misidentified as a more common Triceratops. But in 1992 paleontologists from the institute recognized it as a T. rex.
The bones took more than 30,000 hours to carefully excavate, and it was later installed and displayed at the institute.
Paleontologists say the T. rex, which would have weighed between 7 and 8 tons at his peak, showed signs of a difficult and violent life. He suffered a broken neck, with two of his vertebrae bonding together and a third immobilized. He also had a puncture in his skull and his ribs.
While the business of selling fossils, meteorites and other natural-science trophies has always been active, a T. rex is a rarity and could draw a broader audience of wealthy bidders from around the world.
“This has a true mass appeal,” Cerutti said.
The last T. rex fossil to come up for auction was in 1997, when “Sue,” also found in South Dakota, sold for $8.36 million. A consortium that included McDonald’s and Walt Disney World Resort purchased the fossil and donated it to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
Whoever buys Stan will get all 188 bones and the elaborate support structure. But assembly is required. Christie’s said a buyer will be able to work with the expert company that assembled the fossil to take it apart and put it back together for the buyer.