A fossilized saber-toothed cat skull found on private property in the Miracle Mile more than five decades ago remains on the market after failing to sell at a Dallas auction on Sept. 28.
The fossil, which was found at a construction site near Wilshire and Hauser boulevards in 1955, is being offered by Heritage Auctions. It is owned by Los Angeles resident Arnold Newman, who acquired the skull in the early 1970s from an individual who found it at a bank construction site when he was a boy.
The fossil was offered for $690,000, with a buyer’s premium that brings the minimum bid to $843,000. Craig Kissick, director of natural science for Heritage Auction, said on Wednesday that the fossil has been placed on Heritage Auctions’ post-auction buy list through Oct. 28, and offers are still being accepted.
Kissick added that he has been contacted by two prospective buyers willing to pay less than the $843,000 asking price. He would not disclose the offers and said in such cases, Heritage Auctions negotiates with the buyers and owner to determine a price everyone agrees upon.
“Without question, there is interest from multiple parties,” Kissick said. “We are in continuous ongoing negotiations to see if we strike a deal and get it sold.”
The fossil comes from an area near the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, which houses thousands of similar fossils from saber-toothed cats and other animals that lived in the region thousands of years ago. The seller and its initial owner previously contacted the museum about the fossil, and it was determined that the saber-toothed cat skull was not from the Tar Pits. Because it was found on private property, the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County did not oppose the sale.
Newman, who traveled to Dallas for the auction last week, said he was disappointed the piece did not sell. Newman, 78, kept the fossil for decades and used it as a prop on an educational television series he once produced, but decided to sell it to leave a financial legacy for his children. He remains optimistic, however, and was encouraged by news that potential buyers are interested.
“It’s still floating until we get an answer one way or another,” Newman said. “I hope we sell it for a decent amount.”
Kissick added that anyone willing to pay the $840,000 can buy the fossil at any time, and depending on negotiations, a sale will likely occur within days.
“We already have a bona fide offer, and it’s up to the seller to accept it,” Kissick added. “It’s a matter of whether somebody is willing to scale up to a number that is going to make the consignor happy.”
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