The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed this week an asset forfeiture action against a Tyrannosaurus bataar skull. The skull, found in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and dating from the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, was sold at an auction in New York in 2007 for $276,000. The complaint alleges that the skull is cultural property stolen from Mongolia and seeks to return it, as Mongolian law prohibits the removal of cultural artifacts and U.S. law prohibits their importation. According to the complaint, the buyer has agreed to surrender the skull so that it can be repatriated to Mongolia.
The case is pending before Judge Oetken.