April 17, 2007
Mammoth Skeleton Sets Auction Record
PARIS - If you were looking for the skeleton of a prehistoric mammoth, Monday was your day to buy. Christie's auction house sold one for $421,200 - a world record.
The unidentified buyer was a European who collects contemporary art and 19th century furniture, Christie's spokeswoman Capucine Milliot said.
The mammoth sale was one of a dozen world records set during Monday's auction of paleontological curiosities that brought in a total of more than $1.53 million, Christie's said.
The 10,000-year-old skeleton of a 13.5-foot-long rhinoceros sold for a record $162,000. That of a 7.5-foot-high prehistoric cave bear from the Russian Urals sold for $63,180.
The skeletons previously were owned by private collectors.
Most were bought by individuals, although a German museum and a French museum - neither identified - purchased fossils for smaller sums, Milliot said.
The Siberian mammoth from the High Plestocene era, dubbed the "The President," was the star item at the auction. At 12.5 feet tall and 16 feet long, it had been estimated to sell for about $199,000.
The last such item sold at auction, last year in Paris, went for $254,340, Milliot said.
Among other items sold was a bezoar, a sort of pearl formed in the stomach of some herbivores, made of a stone or hair covered by a layer of calcium phosphate. Bezoars that reach or exceed the size of an egg become tremendously valuable. This one went for $45,360.
The molar of a Siberian mammoth sold for $6,480.