Make no bones about it…

Lot #195: Extremely rare sabre-tooth tiger skull
Once or twice a month, I can be found at the I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers in Beverly Hills (Job #1.5, formerly known as Job #3) running their eBayLiveAuctions.

I’m sitting here preparing for an exciting sale of Natural History items. We’ve had these special sales before… fossils, meteorites, skeletons, dinosaur eggs, gems/minerals, etc… but this time there’s a bit of controversy.

The highight of the auction is expected to be the sale of an extremely rare sabre-tooth tiger skull extracted just outside the boundaries of the county (La Brea) tar pit boundaries. The media is all over this because evidently many paleontologists & members of the scientific community are upset that such items are being put up for sale to the public. The L.A. Times Calendar had a front page story about it yesterday (seen here at the Baltimore Sun).

What do you think about rare fossils being put up for sale to the public? Should they be “preserved” by an institution for study?

Other interesting items also up for sale is the “Golden Fan” which is thought to be the largest gold nugget to be offered up in public sale, and a full-sized replica of a wooly mammoth.

If you’re in the Beverly Hills neighborhood, swing by to watch the jozjozjoz action (or bid for something yourself) in the room. Or you can watch the auction action live at (direct link found at

UPDATE: The sabre-tooth tiger skull sold for $190,000, evidently to a private collector.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Will Campbell for catching the blurb in the Times. The $223,250 price is the final price including the 17.5% buyer’s premium. The $190K amount was the hammer price in the room.

The buyer, Stuart Pivar, is not just your average NY businessman. He is an avid art collector, one of the co-founders of the New York Academy of Art & friend of Andy Warhol. Aside from buying rare sabre-tooth tiger skulls, he’s also in the news for revealing some financial shenanigans (fraud) of the bookeeper for the Academy. (Pivar has not been on the Board of the Academy since the mid-90s.) Links below:

From the NY Ppst:

From the NY Times: (subscription)

2 thoughts on “Make no bones about it…”

  1. An Associated Press article in the L.A. Times this morning (May 3) is reporting that the skull went for $223,250 to a New York businessman named Stuart Pivar.

    I’m torn about its public sale. While the skull’s educational worth is priceless and it seems a shame that it’ll be adorning someone’s personal residence rather than on public exhibit, it was privately owned so I can’t fault the guy for putting it on the market.

    Given how cash-strapped many research and educational institutions are it may be callous to suggest, but if those scientists crying foul wanted the skull so bad, they were welcome to put together the winning bid.

  2. Do I even want know WTF is going to have enough space in their living room for a full-sized replica of a wooly mammoth?!

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