Nicolas Cage Returns Stolen Dinosaur Skull

He bought the fossil, smuggled from Mongolia, for $276K
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2015 6:33 AM CST
Nicolas Cage Returns Stolen Dinosaur Skull
Actor Nicolas Cage is seen in France in 2013.   (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

Remember that dinosaur skull in Nicolas Cage's collection? It's now in the hands of US authorities who say it was stolen from Mongolia. Cage isn't accused of stealing the Tyrannosaurus bataar skull himself; his publicist says he bought it from a Beverly Hills gallery in March 2007 for $276,000—he apparently outbid Leonardo DiCaprio—and received a certificate of authenticity. But Homeland Security began investigating the fossil 18 months ago and has concluded it was taken illegally, reports Reuters. Authorities say Cage has surrendered the skull voluntarily.

Like Cage, the gallery, IM Chait, hasn't been accused of wrongdoing. However, it previously bought and sold a dinosaur skeleton from paleontologist Eric Prokopi, who served time in prison after smuggling a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton out of Mongolia's Gobi desert. A US attorney who's helped recover Mongolian fossils, including three complete Tyrannosaurus bataar skeletons, calls Prokopi a "one-man black market in prehistoric fossils." It isn't clear if Cage's 70-million-year-old skull is connected to Prokopi, reports the BBC. It will now be repatriated to Mongolia. (Cage recently may have helped save a missing girl.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.