Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Family Feud Behind a $32 Million T. Rex Named Stan

PNG imageLegendary paleontologist brothers Peter and Neal Larson dug up the fossils of a 40-foot-long Tyrannosaurus rex out of the ground in South Dakota. The twenty-eight year old discovery, now known by Stan, sold for $32 million dollars, a record breaking price for a fossil. 

One would expect this would be a joyful moment for the Larson brothers. However, the Larsons have been in a yearlong legal battle, and the sale of Stan only added fuel to the flame. The hope was that the sale of Stan would bring the brothers closer together, but it appears that has not been the case. Friends have begun to worry that the high sale price "deepened the bad blood between the brothers" as Neal received all of the money. 

“I figured they might still dislike each other, but there’s no way they’ll ever get over this,” said Mark Norell, chair of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History.

The original plan for Stan was to stay at the Larson brothers' Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, S.D., but two years ago the brothers were in a complex ownership dispute and were ordered to divide the institute's assets and go their separate ways. 

The older brother, Peter, kept the institute and along with it, 100,000-plus fossils and 5,000-square-foot private museum, which was valued around $5 million. Neal, was given the rights to Stan and the proceeds as his buyout. At the time, the deal appeared financially equal, but of course at the time Stan was not predicted to sell for $32 million. 

As it turns out, neither one of the brothers thought they'd make that much "in the history of their entire business." 

See Kelly Crow, The Family Feud Behind a $32 Million T. Rex Named Stan, The Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2020. 

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.  


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