If you checked out the news over the weekend, you might have noticed that Mongolia managed to get back a stolen Tyrannosaurus skull which has been stolen years ago and smuggled into the United States. According to The ABC, the skull may be connected to convicted paleontologist Eric Prokopi, a man considered a “one-man black market in prehistoric fossils“:
The U.S. Attorney in Manhattan filed a civil forfeiture complaint on Wednesday to take possession of the Tyrannosaurus bataar skull, which will be handed to the Mongolian government.
The lawsuit and a press release from the Attorney’s office did not specifically name Cage as the owner, but the lawsuit described the skull as having been bought at auction from Beverly Hills gallery I.M. Chait in March 2007 for $US 276,000.
Now if the details behind the sale sound similar, that’s because you’ve likely read about them on this site before. It turns out that the man who bought the skull in 2007 is none other than Nicolas Cage. We dived in deep back in 2013, thanks to aspects of Cage’s finances being made public in court proceedings, but here’s a refresher courtesy of The Telegraph:
The 67-million-year-old skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a close relative of the T rex, was bought by Cage in 2007 at an auction in California. By the time the auctioneer brought down his gavel, Cage had outbid fellow actor Leonardo DiCaprio by phone, paying $276,000 for what The Telegraph described at the time as a “ferocious-looking addition to his fossil collection”…
However, The Telegraph has now discovered the skull was obtained by I.M. Chait – an auction house in Beverly Hills – from Eric Prokopi, a self-described “commercial paleontologist” who pleaded guilty last year to illegally importing fossils from Mongolia and China.
Cage has not been accused of any wrongdoing in the matter and reportedly had no clue the fossil had been stolen from Mongolia. The gallery that sold the fossil isn’t being held accountable either and Cage agreed to return the skull last week. Prokopi plead guilty to smuggling fossils out of Mongolia, an act which has been illegal since 1924, and was sentenced to three months in prison.
The only problem here is that this would be perfect for a movie starring Nicolas Cage. Why wasn’t that part of the deal? Let me film the return and use it as a prop in the latest National Treasure film. National Treasure: Secret Of The Fossil could be the possible title and it could somehow be connected to Benjamin Franklin’s efforts to breed an army of cloned dinosaurs to protect America from an alien invasion. And now it’s up to Benjamin Franklin Gates to stop a mad man from replicating the experiments and bringing his own army of terrible lizards to life using chicken DNA and a Tyrannosaurus skull.
It doesn’t have to make sense, just get it on film and put that baby out.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article made reference to Nicolas Cage having previously filed for bankruptcy. Mr. Cage has not, in fact, ever filed for bankruptcy.
(Via ABC / Rolling Stone)