British auction house Christie’s reportedly said over the weekend it would withdraw the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton Shen from an upcoming Hong Kong auction.
Marketed as a “historic moment,” the sale of Shen would have been the first time a T. rex skeleton had ever been offered at auction in Asia.
However, after consultation with the consignor of the dinosaur, Christie’s decided to withdraw the lot, according to The New York Times.
“The consignor has now decided to loan the specimen to a museum for public display,” Christie’s spokesman Edward Lewine told the newspaper, noting that the company believes Shen, which was expected to fetch between $15 and $25 million, would “benefit from further study.”
All slots for public viewing had been booked.
Fox News’ multiple requests for comment from Christie’s were not returned. However, the Times reported that questions about the fossil were raised in recent weeks.
Following contact with the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research regarding similarities between Shen and Stan, another T. rex sold in 2020 for a record $31.8 million, there were concerns the online auction materials did not make clear that the specimens included casts of Stan, Christie’s added in a note.
“Replica bones that were added to original bones (referred to as Stan elements) were created by, and purchased from, Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, Inc.,” it said.
The Black Hills Institute retained intellectual property rights on the specimen, and the company’s president, Peter Larson, told the Times that it had been “very misleading” to use Stan to sell Shen and that Christie’s had done “the right thing” by withdrawing Shen.
He told CNN Tuesday that the majority of Shen is actually Stan.
Excavated from the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, Shen was described as 43 feet long and 16 feet tall, weighing 1,400 kilograms.
According to Christie’s website, Shen would have lived during the Cretaceous Period, around 66 million to 68 million years ago.
It said the T. rex is in a “scientifically accurate pose” and is “museum standard” and “54% represented by bone density.”
None of Shen’s teeth are original, per the Times, and Shen apparently has about 79 original bones.
Stan, however, has 190 original bones, and a fossil expert listed as a researcher on Christie’s website apparently acknowledged that roughly three-quarters of the original bones in the specimens were casts of Stan.
David Burnham of the University of Kansas told the publication the density figure had been determined by “computing the area of each individual bone represented using measuring software.”
“There is no T. rex skeleton extant that is entirely made up of original bones. We believe the original elements of Shen are authentic,” Christie’s told CNN Tuesday.