Nicolas Cage apparently bought a dinosaur skull for about $275,000, but there was one big problem: it was actually stolen.
Cage, who purchased the Tyrannosaurus skull in 2007, has decided to give it back to Mongolia, where it was plucked from the earth. When he purchased the skull, he outbid fellow actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Cage, however, said that he had bought the skull and received a certificate of authenticity.
“NC fully cooperated with the investigation, including arranging for an inspection of the fossil by agents of the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Cage’s spokeswoman said, reported CNN.
Cage has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
The office of Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, filed a civil forfeiture complaint last week to take possession of the Tyrannosaurus bataar skull. It will then be sent back to Mongolia.
“Each of these fossils represents a culturally and scientifically important artifact looted from its rightful owner,” Bharara said, reported NBC News.
“Cultural artifacts such as this Bataar Skull represent a part of Mongolian national cultural heritage,” Glenn Sorge, a special agent, added in a statement, reported the NY Times. “It belongs to the people of Mongolia. These priceless antiquities are not souvenirs to be sold to private collectors or hobbyists.”
The Tyrannosaurus bataar was a large carnivore that lived around 70 million years ago. The dino’s remains have been discovered only in Mongolia.