Heritage Auctions

It turns out, Mongolia was right.

Back in May, we told you about a lawyer who, on behalf of the president of Mongolia, was involved in his own crusade to stop the auction of precious Tyrannosaurus bones. Lawyer Robert Painter and President Elbegdorj Tsakhia argued that a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton had been smuggled out of Mongolia to be sold in America.

Eventually, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the S.D.N.Y got involved, on the side of Mongolia. It turns out that this Mongolian dinosaur was just the tip of one man’s international smuggling operation.

That man pleaded guilty yesterday….

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We’ve been carving out a little dinosaur law beat over the last several months, thanks to the contentious auctioning off of a Mongolian Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton. The auction was interrupted when the Mongolian president’s attorney stood up and shouted, “I’m sorry, I need to interrupt this auction. I have a judge on the phone,” in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the sale.

Unfortunately for the anonymous million-dollar winning bidder, the dinosaur bones are stuck in limbo a little longer. Lawsuits have been flying around in the aftermath of the auction, and yesterday, New York police arrested the archaeologist who allegedly brought the bones to the U.S.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we are leaving Jurassic Park and entering DaVinci Code Land. Please keep your hands and legs inside the vehicle…

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The battle between Mongolia and a Texas-based auction house over control of rare Tyrannosaurus bones is getting bigger. I’m telling you that when BBC gets around to making the documentary Walking With Dinosaurs And Their Attorneys, you’re going to want to watch it.

Let me bring you up to speed: Last month, Heritage Auctions tried to auction off a rare Tyrannosaurs bataar skeleton. The animal is believed to have lived in what is now Mongolia between 70 and 100 million years ago. And now its bones that are worth an incalculable amount to science can be sold for around a million dollars to private collectors. The auction has been held up though, thanks to a temporary injunction obtained by representatives of Elbegdorj Tsakhia, the president of Mongolia. They claim the skeleton was illegally taken away from Mongolia and want it returned. In response, the long dead Tyrannosaur said “AAAAHHHNNN,” and wondered why the opposable-thumbed ones insist on trying to own nature.

When we last we checked in, Heritage Auctions said it was working with Mongolian authorities to resolve the issue. But now the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Homeland Security is involved(!!!).

Man, I wish Michael Crichton was still alive, because Triassic Terrorists is a novel that needs to be written….

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* Man, the economy is so bad, monks are having to go to court to fight for a new revenue stream. [WSJ Law Blog]

* We have peace between a Texas auction house and the President of Mongolia over the ownership of a Tyrannosaur skeleton. While we’re here, should anybody wish to invite me to a pre-screening of their inventive dinosaur park, I’d like to note that I’m not the type of bloodsucking lawyer who leaves children behind. [Heritage Foundation]

* Did you know Sullivan & Cromwell got involved in the birther controversy? The first one, the legitimate one with Mitt Romney’s father. Not the ridiculous one that Romney’s been embracing. [Reuters]

* Speaking of Mittens, did you know he supports for-profit colleges? That’s like supporting people jumping off the Empire State Building, so long as they pay to get in. [Salon]

* Could an accounting firm pull a Dewey? [Going Concern]

* Have an idea for how to improve the Constitution? Share it with the good folks over at Slate. [The Hive / Slate]

Tyrannosaurus bataar

If you are like me, “archaeologist” sounded like the coolest job in the world when you were a kid. You wanted to be Indiana Jones. You wanted to be Doctor Alan Grant.

At least until you figured out that being an archaeologist means sitting in a desert with a toothbrush wiping sand off of an ancient pile of poop.

But if you bury it in the sand, maybe in 1,000 years even your law degree might be worth something. Lawyers can have a great role to play in which artifacts end up in a museum for the world to see, and which end up in the private collection of some obscenely wealthy person.

And lawyers have a lot to say about which country the treasures of history end up in.

This weekend, a lawyer was on his own crusade to stop the sale of Tyrannosaur bones at auction. That’s right, we’ve got a Dinosuit on our hands. And just to add that international flair, the lawyer was representing the president of Mongolia….

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