The 10 Most Expensive Dinosaur Fossil Sales of All Time
Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images. Pictured: Stan
Most Expensive Dinosaur Fossils
|1.. “Stan”, T-Rex||$31.8 Million|
|2. “Hector”, Velociraptor||$12.4 Million|
|3. “Sue”, T-Rex||$8.3 Million|
|4. “Big John”, Triceratops||$7.2 Million|
|5. Gorgosaurus||$6.1 Million|
|6. The Diplodocus Three||$5.8 Million|
|7. Allosaurus||$3.46 Million|
|8. Allosaurus vs. Stegosaurus, Fighting Pair||$2.3 Million|
|9. Unknown Dinosaur||$2.3 Million|
|10. Allosaurus||$1.78 Million|
We know what you’re thinking.
Yes, dinosaur fossils have become a popular collector’s item for the wealthy over the years. They’re the new toy for the rich.
While some are bought by museums, others are bought by individuals. For example, Logan Paul bought a dinosaur leg as a birthday present in 2021 for $40,000.
That wouldn’t sniff our list.
Below, we break down the 10 most expensive dinosaur fossils of all time.
1. “Stan,” T-Rex, $31.8 million
Found in 1991 by a man named Stan, the T-Rex has always been the most marketable of dinosaurs. If this was sold in 1991, we think it would have commanded about $200,000. But it was on display for nearly 30 years by where it was found in South Dakota and by that time, collecting dinosaurs became a toy of the ultra rich.
Considering there are only about 50 good T-Rex fossils found, this one is clearly the best. It’s 13-feet tall and more than 40-feet long and has 11-inch long teeth. It features 188 bones and is connected by 30 percent fabrication — meaning its 70 percent skeleton.
In 2022, the mystery buyer was revealed as the Natural History Museum of Abu Dhabi, which is scheduled to open in 2025.
2. “Hector,” $12.4 million
The velociraptor achieved popularity for the “Jurassic Park” series of movies. Nonetheless, scientists were very surprised that the number this brought in in May 2022 is not mindblowing. But the dinosaur also didn’t have a skull and was missing half its real bones.
3. “Sue,” T-Rex, $8.3 million
Nicknamed ‘Sue’ after Sue Hendrickson, who discovered this T-Rex in 1990, this fossil was so impressive not only because it was a T-Rex, but because it was 90 percent complete. The 67-million-year-old fossil was found on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation and, after a legal battle, the landowner consigned it to Sotheby’s for the sale. Not surprisingly, a museum — the Chicago Field Museum — bought it with the help of sponsors like McDonald’s and Disney, and it became the centerpiece of the property.
4. “Big John,” Triceratops, $7.2 million
This Triceratops is big as its nickname suggests — 26 feet! Discovered in South Dakota in 2014, it is about 60 percent bones. John is one of the most interesting fossils ever bought in that it has a hole in its skull likely sustained during a fight. Scientists have hypothesized that Big John, believed to be 66 million years old, did ultimately die from complications from the strike, but not for months later. The fossil was sold in Paris in 2021.
"Big John," the world's biggest triceratops skeleton, sold for $7.7m this week.
John is 66 million years old and from South Dakota. pic.twitter.com/2QH6sPrKnI
— The Hustle (@TheHustle) October 22, 2021
5. Gorgosaurus, $6.1 Million
Sotheby’s sold this fossil of a Gorgosaurus, a relative of the T-Rex in July of 2022. The name of the buyer was not yet revealed. This was the first Gorgosaurus made available for private ownership. The other known skeletons of the dinosaur are in institutional collections.
6. The Diplodocus Three, $5.8 million
Finding the fossil of one dinosaur is impressive, but finding three together is incredible. Paleontologists in Wyoming found three diplodocus — two adults and a child — together in 2008. It was sold to the University of Singapore Museum of Natural History.
7. Allosaurus, $3.46 million
This relative of the T-Rex was found in Wyoming with almost 70 percent of the structure complete.The 150-year-old specimen, sold in Paris in 2020, measures 11 feet tall.
8. Allosaurus vs Stegosaurus, Fighting Pair, $2.7 million
This fossil is fascinating because it’s essentially frozen in time. The way the two combatants — a carnivore vs. an herbivore — were laid out led scientists to conclude that they fought each other to the death and were eventually absorbed into the ground. It was the first time that two different dinosaur species of the Jurassic era were found together. The dinosaur fossils, believed to be older than 150 million years, were sold in 2011 by Heritage Auctions.
9. Unknown Dinosaur, $2.3 million
Another Wyoming find in 2013, this dinosaur was able to command massive dollars despite scientists not being able to conclude what type of dinosaur it was. It was sold in Paris in 2018.
10. Allosaurus, $1.78 million
Considered a humongous sale when sold at Sotheby’s in 2010, this allosaurus sale will be out of the top 10 by the end of 2022. What’s particularly remarkable about this specimen is how it was put together — in the running position, ready to attack!
Allosaurus & Diplodocus, $1.6 million each
A private bidder bought both dinosaurs in Paris in 2018, which marked the beginning of the buying of dinosaur fossils by the public as opposed to museums. It has caused great tension over time.