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Bones of Contention

Finding Barnum was hard enough. But to excavate the intrigue around the prize T. rex, you must dig deeper.

Miller says his group wants more than just its money back. The investors have suffered substantial damages as a result of the other side's misrepresentations, he claims, including mounting legal fees and the lost opportunity to sell Barnum at auction.

"We are still interested in the property, but the fossil community is very small," Miller says. "Everybody knows everybody else. This process has tainted the specimen in a way. We can't sell it as easily or for as much money as we'd hoped because of these title issues."

David Herskowitz, the Butterfield's expert, would love to help sell Barnum if the title issues are resolved. "It's definitely marketable," he says. "But people who buy fossils want to deal with someone who really knows the business. I've seen people try to broker deals who know nothing about fossils. They're trying to jump on a bandwagon that isn't there."

Back in South Dakota, Leon Theisen doesn't regret getting shut out of the action around the T. rex he found. "I just said goodbye and good riddance," he says. "There are other dinosaurs to dig, other fossils to find."

He adds, "My understanding is that it's not really that great a specimen. But even a bad T. rex is a wonderful thing."

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