Nicolas Cage reportedly battled Leonardo DiCaprio at auction to win it, but now the actor's infamous illegally smuggled Tyrannosaurus skull has been returned to Mongolia where it belongs.
Although the complaint filed last week didn't explicitly name Nicolas Cage, the details of the 32-inch long skull matched the well-known purchase made by the Hollywood star in 2007. Cage spent $276,000 after a bidding battle ensued for the 67 million-year-old relic.
The Associated Press report that the skull was illegally smuggled into America from its native Mongolia in 2006 after being falsely identified at customs as "fossil stone pieces."
Despite the fact the he purchased the item, Cage has not been accused of wrongdoing and authorities have stated that the skull was voluntarily handed over to them. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that:
"Each of these fossils represents a culturally and scientifically important artifacts looted from its rightful owner"
Maybe Cage found it so easy to let the skull go because it reminded him of a dark chapter in his financial history. At around the same time he purchased the dinosaur remains, the star purchased three homes, 22 automobiles and 47 works of art and exotic collectables and ended up in severe financial trouble.
The skull is believed to belong to a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a relative of the more famous T-rex that has only ever been found in Mongolia. It has been illegal to export remains from the East Central Asian since 1924.
(Source: Reuters via The Associated Press)