Following the sale of the first-ever Gorgosaurus skeleton in July, Sotheby’s will auction a standalone Tyrannosaurus rex skull this December, the first of its kind ever to appear at public auction.
November 14, 2022: Highly sought after and instantly recognisable, the T. Rex is a true cultural icon. Tyrannosaurus rex skulls of astounding quality and completeness number less than a dozen in museum collections, making this particular skull, offered by Sotheby’s, a rare and vital paleontological discovery. This distinctive skull is one of the best and most complete ever discovered. Mounted on an iron pedestal, the 76-million-year-old skull stands at an imposing 6 foot 7 ½ inches tall (79.75 inches) and weighs over 200 pounds.
“This T. Rex fossil is an extraordinary discovery. Unearthed in one of the most concentrated areas for T. Rex remains, the skull retained much of its original shape and surface characteristics with even the smallest and most delicate bones intact, with an extremely high degree of scientific integrity. Without the work of experienced field palaeontologists who carefully collected and preserved this skull, it may have eroded away and been lost to science forever,” said Henry Galiano, Sotheby’s Consultant, Natural History.
Named Maximus, a title conferred upon the greatest of military commanders in Ancient Rome, honouring its reputation as a hunter and fighter, the incredible skull was discovered and excavated on private land in Harding County, South Dakota, in the Hell Creek Formation. The site is also well known for excavating other famous dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period, including Triceratops, Edmontosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus and many others. The dig site where the T. Rex skull was unearthed had been severely weathered over time, and most of the skeleton was destroyed by erosion; by a great stroke of luck, the head survived.
“25 years since the auction of Sue, the largest and most complete T. Rex ever discovered, and the very first dinosaur sold at auction, it is fitting that Sotheby’s will once again present a specimen of the highest caliber. Ranking among the best and most complete T. Rex skulls ever found, this extremely rare fossil comes to market on the heels of our Gorgosaurus sale this summer—marking an unprecedented moment for two incredibly significant specimens to be offered within such a short period,” said Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s Global Head of Science and Popular Culture
Extremely rare for a specimen of its kind, all the tooth-bearing jaw elements are preserved, as are most of the external bones on both right and left sides of the skull, including but not limited to these significant elements - premaxillae, maxillae, nasal, jugal, lacrimal, and more. Importantly, these bones represent a single individual without composite components added.
Estimated to achieve $15-20million, it will be offered without reserve in a single lot, live sale in New York on December 9, where it is poised to become one of the most valuable fossils ever sold at a natural history auction.