Rare Mongolian dinosaur fossil seized from US warehouse

Updated 24 June 2012
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Rare Mongolian dinosaur fossil seized from US warehouse

NEW YORK: A gigantic tyrannosaurus skeleton — tucked away in a New York warehouse — was seized by US authorities, who hope to return the prehistoric remains to their native Mongolia, officials said Friday.
The skeleton, about eight feet tall and a whopping 24 feet wide, was locked up at Cadogan-Tate Art storage facility after being sold to a last month at Heritage Auctions for $1.05 million. A spokesperson for the auction house confirmed the seizure to AFP.
The tyrannosaurus — a tarbosaurus bataar — walked Central Asia’s Gobi Desert on two feet at the end of the Cretaceous period, some 70 million years ago.
In May 2010, the skeleton was shipped to Florida from Britain. It was sold at a New York auction on May 20 for $1.05 million by Heritage Auctions.
But according to documents filed Monday in US District Court in New York, it is alleged to have been illegally imported from Britain through false claims about what it was and its value.
A Manhattan prosecutor filed to seize the reconstituted skeleton Monday and return it to Mongolian authorities, who had tried in vain to prevent the sale, and the request was approved by judge Kevin Casten.
In 1924, Mongolia determined that fossils are national property, and their export is strictly forbidden.
Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj rejoiced Monday at the legal proceedings, saying the tyrannosaurus represents an important part of the Mongolian people’s cultural heritage.
“We are one step closer to bringing this rare tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton back home to the people of Mongolia,” he said in a statement sent to AFP.
“Today we send a message to looters all over the world: We will not turn a blind eye to the marketplace of looted fossils.”
It was not immediately clear when the remains would be handed over but Robert Painter, a lawyer representing Mongolia, said he and his clients were confident they would be repatriated “in the near future.”
Heritage Auctions’ co-chair Jim Halperin, meanwhile, said there should be a “fair and just” solution for Florida-based seller Eric Prokopi.
He “spent a year of his life and considerable expense identifying, restoring, mounting and preparing what had previously been a much less valuable matrix of disassembled, underlying bones and bone fragments.”
Prokopi has denied being an international trafficker of historical artifacts.


Meghan Markle’s nephew caught with knife blames Trump: report

Updated 26 min 18 sec ago
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Meghan Markle’s nephew caught with knife blames Trump: report

LONDON: Tyler Dooley, nephew of Britain’s newest royal Meghan Markle, took a knife to a London nightclub and then blamed Donald Trump’s warnings about the dangers of the British capital, The Sun reported on Monday.
The daily said Dooley, 25, a cannabis farmer who was not invited to the royal wedding in Windsor, handed the four-inch blade to a bouncer outside the club in Kingston, southwest London.
London’s Metropolitan Police did not name Dooley but confirmed they were called by security to the club “after a man openly declared he had a knife as he attempted to enter the club.”
The incident happened just hours after Saturday’s wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan.
“When officers arrived at 01.55 hrs enquiries led them to a hotel in Kingston and two men in their 20s were spoken to by officers in connection with the incident.
“One of the men also voluntarily surrendered a noxious spray. Both men, who were visitors to the UK, were warned about their actions,” the statement said.
“Neither was arrested, no further action was taken and enquiries are complete,” it added.
It is illegal to carry any knife in a public place in England except for folding pocket knives with blades measuring three inches (7.62 centimeters) or less.
Police commander Sally Benatar was quoted in the statement as saying: “The items were handed over voluntarily and there was no ongoing risk so the investigation was closed with warnings given.”
The Sun quoted Dooley as telling someone outside the club: “I just brought it because Donald Trump said London was like a warzone. I had it for protection.”
When contacted by a Sun reporter, the paper said Dooley “hid inside a bin cupboard” at his hotel.
Dooley flew into London last week with his brother and mother, the ex-wife of Markle’s half-brother Thomas, who was also not invited to the nuptials.
The run-up to the royal wedding was overshadowed by the media circus surrounding Markle’s family.
Her father pulled out at the last minute after getting caught up in a paparazzi scandal and then undergoing a heart operation while her mother was the only family member to attend.
Trump has stirred controversy with repeated references to security issues in Britain.
In a speech at the National Rifle Association in Texas this month, he talked about knife crime in London, comparing a hospital in the city to a “war zone.”
Knife-related crimes rose by 23 percent in London last year and a spate of stabbings and shootings have left more than 50 people dead this year.