One of the most complete, largest and well-known Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons in the world is expected to fetch as much as $8 million when it goes to auction in New York City next month.
The skeleton, fondly referred to as “Stan,” will hit the block at Christie’s in early October after being displayed and researched at South Dakota’s Black Hills Institute for 20 years.
Stan is one of the most famous dinosaur skeletons, and reportedly the most duplicated Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in history, with as many as 60 casts on display all over the world.
According to Christie’s, Stan is estimated to go for between $6 million and $8 million, with collectors, cultural institutions and museum benefactors as possible buyers.
It wouldn’t be an unprecedented price tag—in 1997, a skeleton of a female Tyrannosaurus rex nicknamed Sue was sold to Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History for a jaw-dropping $8.36 million.
However, the trend has raised questions surrounding the ethics of selling artifacts that critics say is fuelling trafficking—Cage himself agreed to return a $276,000 skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, an ancestor to the Tyrannosaurus rex, after it was revealed to have been stolen before being sold to the actor.
“I’ll never forget the moment I came face to face with him for the first time,” James Hyslop, head of Christie’s department of science and natural history, said in a statement. “He looked even larger and more ferocious than I’d imagined, a specimen that only further establishes the [Tyrannosaurus rex]’s position as the King of Dinosaurs.”
Before Stan is sent to his new home, wherever that may be, he will be put on display for the public at Christie’s saleroom in New York City in its floor-to-ceiling windows from Wednesday through late October.
Stan was discovered in 1987 in the Cretaceous Badlands, but wasn’t dug up until 1992 because the fossil was initially thought to be a Triceratops, a kind of dinosaur of which remains are more common. It wasn’t until Black Hills Institute researchers visited the site and realized they had a rare Tyrannosaurus rex specimen on their hands that Stan was excavated. Stan’s bones indicate that when he was alive, he likely survived breaking his neck, as well as a puncture wound near a rib that researchers say may have been caused by a fellow Tyrannosaurus rex during a scrap.