The greatest headline of all-time is “Nicolas Cage Agrees to Return Stolen Dinosaur Skull to Mongolia.” Disagree if you like, and produce all the other challengers you can find, but please know that you are and will continue to be very wrong. There’s just too much going on in this one and every part of it is beautiful. I appreciate a different part of it every time I read it. Right now I’m tickled by the word “agrees” because it introduces the possibility of a scenario where he did not agree and a major international incident developed over Nicolas Cage’s refusal to return a stolen dinosaur skull to the Mongolian government.
The only tiny downside of the headline is that the wording seems to imply that Nicolas Cage stole the dinosaur skull from the Mongolian government himself. He did not. It would have been kind of perfect if he had, though, because of everything we know about him and every movie he’s made since 1997. Even the New York Times acknowledged this in their article about it.
As it turns out, the skull had been stolen from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, and the buyer was Nicolas Cage, an actor who among his dozens of films has starred in a movie franchise about the hunt for rare treasures.
A publicist for Mr. Cage confirmed that he bought the skull from the Beverly Hills gallery I.M. Chait in 2007, according to Reuters. The Department of Homeland Security contacted Mr. Cage about the skull last year, and the actor agreed to turn it over.
The other great thing about this story, as if it needed anything else, is that, if you track down that Reuters article, you will discover that Nicolas Cage only got his hands on the tyrannosaurus skull by outbidding Leonardo DiCaprio at the auction. Please do take a moment here to work up a full visual of Nicolas Cage and Leonardo DiCaprio in a bidding war over a dinosaur skull at an auction house. But only take that moment, because we have more to discuss.
Russell Crowe is getting divorced. This, by itself, is not good news, because it is sad whenever a marriage falls apart. But the silver lining in this particular divorce is that Russell Crowe has set up an auction of some of his possessions and titled the auction “Russell Crowe: The Art of Divorce.” You should take a stroll through the archive of items. There are some real doozies in there. One such doozy is the mounted skull of a mosasaur, a prehistoric ancestor of the monitor lizard. And even just that, by itself, is a lot to take in, because it means both Russell Crowe and Nicolas Cage once possessed dinosaur skulls. But this is where it gets interesting. If you scroll down on the auction page for the mosasaur skull, past the picture and into the description, you will find this:
-Mr Leonardo DiCaprio, Los Angeles
-Mr Russell Crowe, Sydney, acquired from the above, December 2008
And so, the question here becomes obvious: Just how many dinosaur skulls does Leonardo DiCaprio own? Also, given the timing, does this mean DiCaprio and Crowe negotiated the sale of a dinosaur skull while on the set of Body of Lies and, if so, can you even imagine being a production assistant or food service worker and overhearing that conversation? But mostly the first question, because we now know of two high-profile celebrity dinosaur skull transactions and Leonardo DiCaprio was involved in both.
I see two possibilities here, maybe three. The first is that he owns many dinosaur skulls. Maybe even enough to fill an entire room. How weird would that be? Leonardo DiCaprio invites you over to his house and you’re all excited about it and then he says “Here’s the best part of the tour” and he opens the door and, boom, dinosaur skulls everywhere. It would be so creepy. You would probably run out of there, justifiably.
The second possibility is that he has one dinosaur skull. Like maybe he was looking for a newer and fancier one — hence the auction where he lost out to Nicolas Cage — and when he eventually found one, he sold the old one to Russell Crowe. I do not think he has any number between one and “a lot,” though, because I imagine collecting dinosaur skulls is like getting tattoos, and once you get one you just keep going and going.
The third option, which is the least likely but also my favorite, is that Leonardo DiCaprio got so angry after losing the auction to Nicolas Cage that he just threw in the towel and got out of the dinosaur skull collecting racket completely, finishing it off by selling the one he already had to Russell Crowe on the set of the movie they were making.
In any event, I must know now. If you or anyone you know has Leonardo DiCaprio’s contact information, please ask him how many dinosaur skulls he owns.