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Jewish World Review April 20, 2001 / 27 Nissan, 5761

Karen Abbott

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Consumer Reports

Tyrannosaurus buyer files suit over sale -- DENVER -- Jeff Miller bought a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton for $400,000 last year, but now he says he was cheated. He has filed a federal lawsuit against two fossil dealers he claims didn't live up to their deal.

The skeleton, dubbed "Barnum," was found in 1995 on a private ranch in Wyoming. Evidence in the case includes a written statement from the ranch owners, saying they were paid for the bones.

By last year, according to Miller's lawsuit, "Barnum" was in the hands of the fossil dealers Mark Newman, owner of a gem and mineral shop in New York, and Japheth Boyce, a geologist and owner of a rock shop in South Dakota who allegedly excavated the skeleton.

Neither could be reached for comment.

The lawsuit said Newman approached Miller and offered to sell him the skeleton. Newman allegedly told Miller he owned the skeleton and that it was in Boyce's possession in Rapid City.

Miller put down $50,000 and agreed to pay $350,000 in installments. His plan was to resell the skeleton, which Boyce was to remove from its rock casing and restore as a display.

The deal also included promises that Miller would receive full documentation of the skeleton's discovery and subsequent history, the lawsuit said.

Miller created a company, Ty Rex LLC, to market "Barnum."

He contacted an auction house about selling the skeleton, only to learn that Newman was telling its officials that Miller didn't own "Barnum" and had no right to sell it, the lawsuit said.

Then, according to Miller, someone told him the ownership of the skeleton was clouded.

Karen Abbott writes for the Rocky Mountain News. Comment by clicking here.


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