US$15m primeval T-Rex fossil offered for the first time in Asia

In 2020, a T-Rex fossil named Stan garnered US$31.8 million dollars at Christie's New York – more than five times its low estimate and set an auction record for any dinosaur skeleton or fossil.

Two years later, in 2022, Christie’s Hong Kong announced that a T-Rex skeleton will be offered for the first time at auction in Asia. Known as Shen, it is estimated between HK$120 and 200 million (around US$15 to 25 million) dollars and would have lived during the Cretaceous period, around 68 to 66 million years ago. The new owner will have full rights and all soft assets relating to it, including the unique opportunity to bestow a nickname on the dinosaur.

Shen the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Height: 4.6 metres | Length: 12.2 metres | Width: 2.1 metres
Estimate upon request (Expected to fetch HK$120,000,000 – 200,000,000 / around US$15 – 25 million)

So, why is this skeleton called the Chinese name, Shen?

There are two reasons for this appellation. One is the sheer size of the fossil remains of T-Rex and this prehistoric beast exudes a solemn aura like a god (shen in Chinese). The second reason is that the Stan sold at Christie’s New York at a record-breaking price in 2020 was also a T-Rex fossil, and both of their names start with the letter S.

Meaning king of the tyrant lizards, the T-Rex was one of the most ferocious predators to ever walk the Earth. With a massive body, sharp teeth, and jaws so powerful they could crush a car, this carnivore dominated the forested river valleys in western North America during the prehistoric era.

This Shen skeleton was unearthed in Montana state, United States. Dynamically posed as though amid a hunt, Shen the T-Rex is in a scientifically accurate pose epitomising its ferocity. It has been researched by the leading academic palaeontologists – Dr. David Burnham, Professor of Palaeontology and Therapod Specialist, and Dr. John Nudds, Professor of Palaeontology, Earth Sciences Department, Manchester University, United Kingdom. The skeleton is museum standard and is 54 per cent represented by bone density.

After the assembly of Shen's remains, it is larger than Stan – measuring at 12.2 metres long, 4.6 metres high, 2.1 metres wide, and weighs 1,400 kilograms. In comparison, Stan is about 11.2 metres long, 4 metres high and 1.8 metres wide.

Over the past century, scientists discovered about 100 fossils mostly in the American states of Dakotas, Montana and Colorado. There are only 32 largely complete T-Rex skeletons in museums around the world. One of the biggest, most complete T-Rex specimens in history was sold by Sotheby's in 1997. In the end, it amassed US$8.3 million dollars and broke a record for the most valuable fossil sold at auction. It is now housed in the Field Museum, Chicago. 

How a T-Rex would have looked like

Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil, StanChristie's New York, 2020Sold: US$31,847,500

Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil, Sue, fetched a record-breaking US$8.3 dollars in 1997, and is now housed at Field Museum, Chicago

According to Western media, Stan was shipped to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism later confirmed that the T-Rex fossil will be displayed at the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, which is set to open in 2025.

In May 2022, a Deinonychus skeleton realised US$12.4 million dollars at Christie's New York – far exceeding its estimate of US$4 to 6 million dollars.

Leading up to the auction on 30 November, visitors can check out the dinosaur's skeleton from 28 to 30 October at Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, Singapore; and Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 26 to 30 November.

Deinonychus fossilChristie's New York, 2022Sold: US$12,412,500

Auction Details:

Auction House: Christie's Hong Kong
Sale: 20th / 21st Century Art Evening Sale 
Date: 30 November 2022

Shen the T-Rex's Fossil Public Previews:

  • Singapore | Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall: 28 – 30 October
  • Hong Kong | Convention and Exhibition Centre: 26 – 30 November