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‘Year of the Dinosaur Sales’ Doesn’t Always Mean the Dinosaurs Are Selling


When we told you that 2009 had officially become “the year of dinosaur sales,” following the announcement that there was to be yet another skeleton put on the market, we should have added a footnote saying that just because they hit an auction doesn’t mean anyone will actually buy them. Such is the case with the aforementioned “Samson” Tyrannasaurus rex, which was attempting to be sold at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas this weekend. Despite lots of press and some wealthy person buzz, the skeleton only wound up getting a bid of $3.6 million, which didn’t manage to hit the seller’s reserve and thus, won’t be going anywhere. This, according to the auction company handling the sale, is an indicator of how rough things have gotten for the industry:

On Friday, Thomas Lindgren, the curator in charge, and auctioneer Patrick Meade had talked about just that between meetings with prospective buyers. People from across the world had expressed interest in Samson, but nobody was committed to bidding.

“If I’d have had this T. rex two years ago, we would have set world records,” Lindgren said wistfully. But, he said, the recession had caused everyone — museums, schools and even eccentric collectors with deep pockets — to scale back.

We feel badly for them, that it didn’t sell, but we like the idea of a Dinosaur Index as an economic indicator. That’s a lot more interesting than how many houses or cars are being sold.

2009 Continues as ‘Year of the Dinosaur Sales’


Let’s no kid ourselves. We know why you continue to read UnBeige: to get the latest word on dinosaur sales. You were giddy when we told you about Vanderbilt Museum contemplating the sale of its prized Jurassic Park fiberglass dinosaurs. And you just should have seen the look on your face when we reported back in March on the I.M. Chait Gallery‘s massive dinosaur skeleton auction to help raise money for the Western Paleontological Laboratories. So it is with great pleasure that we tell you “Samson,” the full Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and cousin to the Field Museum‘s “Sue,” will be hitting the auction block on October 3rd at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. The auction is being handled by the firm Bonhams & Butterfields and is expected to fetch somewhere around $6 million by either a natural history museum or a billionaire mad scientist (perhaps for his Billionaire Mad Scientist Natural History Museum, which is a must-visit the next time you’ve visiting his underground lair). Here’s a bit:

“Most of the major museums in the world have casts of T. rexes,” as opposed to the real thing, [Bonhams & Butterfields' Tom Lindgren] said. “Bidding on this T. rex is not going to be a gamble, it’s going to be the opportunity of a lifetime to whoever gets it.”

The female dinosaur’s lower jaw was found by the son of a rancher in 1987 and the rest of its bones were excavated in 1992, Lindgren said. It was sold twice to private owners, and is now owned by an American whom Lindgren wouldn’t name.

Frankly, You Know We’re Wright


Dear Copy Editors,

A quick rant and then we promise to leave you alone. We understand that you have a difficult job in the newspaper business these days, what with layoffs and cutbacks and all that, and we feel for you, we really do. But just because famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright has a surname that sounds like “Right” is no excuse to get out of hand and go completely nuts. We bring to your attention this letter to the editor of the Augusta Chronicle entitled “Architecture, Art, Come Alive [the] Wright Way” which we learn is a response to a piece in the paper entitled “The Wright Touch.” This is inexcusable. One we’d be okay with, sure, because we’re all proud of ourselves when we can make a quick pun. But two? Two Wright/Right jokes?! That’s too much and has forced us to demand you to choose one of two options: 1) stop all zany Wright headlines entirely, or 2) if you can’t resist, we must insist that you do this for all famous architects — so we’ll be expecting things like “Don’t Get Gehry’d Away This Summer!”, “The Silver of Stirling”, and “What a Nouvel Idea” (you’re on your own with Libeskind, Calatrava, and Le Corbusier). We don’t mean to be a pain, really we don’t, we just want to nip all of this in the Hadid before it gets any more ridiculous.


Out of Office: Be Back in a Few Weeks


This writer is headed out of town this morning and will be gone for the next couple of weeks, traveling to Dunhuang and all over the rest of China to shoot a documentary about the University of Iowa‘s Life of Discovery artist exchange program. While he’s gone, Stephanie will be taking good care of the lot of you, as is her usual custom. So if you have tips, hot scoops, or forwarded email jokes your parents send you all the time, make sure you send it all her way or it’s apt to get lost in a sea of unanswered mail. And with that, this writer takes his leave of you and promises to talk again soon, at the end of the month.

2009: The Year of Dinosaur Sales and Architects Gone Bad


Two pieces of information we’d like to share with you now that might not affect your life in any major meaningful way, but will perhaps shed some light on this economic crisis we’re all in the middle of at the moment. First up, years later when we look back at “Great Depression 2: Electric Depresionloo” perhaps the one thing we’ll remember is how many dinosaurs were sold at museums and galleries in New York to help make ends meet. First there were the fiberglass ones at Long Island’s Vanderbilt Museum and then, most recently, this weekend found the auctioning of a complete (real) dinosaur skeleton, as well as several other ancient skeletons, at the I.M. Chait Gallery, with the hopes of raising some money for the Western Paleontological Laboratories. So while 2008 might have been the year that siphoned underground dinosaur remains became too expensive and limited cross-country road trips, 2009 is quickly turning into the year that dinosaur bones become the dominant form of currency. Second, we share with you this story about the decline of the architecture industry where we see an architect and his partner were forced to kidnap their landlord’s real estate agent and threaten to kill him over rent disputes concerning a restaurant the pair were trying to open. Though, to be fair, that’s a fairly standard practice in the industry, we’re guessing. You just don’t hear about it at the Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry levels, because they probably employ a secret army of strong-arms and the news just doesn’t get out because they’re really, really good at their strong-arming jobs.

Channel the Academy Award Winner Within

oscars12.jpg The Academy Awards. The show is the stuff of dreams for many actors, directors, cinematographers, etc. They rehearse the acceptance speech nearly all their lives. Well, here in Chicago, those who are willing to suffer the cold to get their fingers around an actual Oscar statue, will get a chance to make their fantasy come to life if but for a moment on beginning Feb. 13 at the Shops at North Bridge.

Meet the Oscars, Chicago” will feature a display of Oscars as they undergo a complex, weeks-long manufacturing process. The Windy City has a bona fide connection to the Oscars: R.S. Owens & Company has manufactured the statuettes annually since 1982. Six Oscars on display will be presented at next year’s ceremony.

Chicagoans will also get their chance to see a little movie-making history: the statuette that actor Clark Gable won for his performance in “It Happened One Night” (1934) will be on view. In 1996 an anonymous buyer bought this Oscar at auction for a whopping $607,500. Later that year, the Oscar was returned to the Academy. It was later learned that the buyer was Steven Spielberg.

Future Brad Pitts and Jennifer Anistons will need to hurry. The show closes Sunday, Feb. 22, the night of the actual Oscars. It’s sort of like Cinderella’s coach which needs to get home before it turns into a pumpkin, only in this situation Oscar needs to return to the West Coast to hang out with his buddies before the presentation that seen by millions is broadcast.

Hemingway, Cats, and Typos on Billboards


This writer is worn out after a long week and is headed to the airport in a minute, so before he leaves and passed the Friday torch to Stephanie to close out the day, here’s a couple of quick, fun stories. First up is this strange piece in the suburban Chicago paper the Daily Herald about a multimillionaire who was so upset with the architect who was helping him build his new mansion, David Schulz, that he posted a billboard explaining why he’d fired him. Unfortunately there are two problems: 1) he spelled the name wrong on the billboard, so it reads “David Shulz” 2) there’s another architect working in the same area who is named David Shultz. And now the angry multimillionaire won’t take down the sign, and the non-bad architect is worried about how this is all going to affect his business, given how similar their names are, particularly with the typo. Whew.

Second up comes the heartwarming story (if you’re a cat person), that the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida has won its five year battle with the US Department of Agriculture to allow the historic site to keep the more than 50 cats that wander the grounds, all decedents of Hemingway’s main cat, “Snowball.” And after countless research and experts coming to check the place out and the museum having spent in the neighborhood of $250,000 in legal fees, this has to come as a welcome conclusion (though the cats probably don’t care or appreciate the effort at all, given the species’ nature).

With that, this writer takes his leave. Onward to Stephanie!

Sushi: Don’t Hate What You Don’t Eat


This writer doesn’t like sushi. Ick. There’s no reason going into why he doesn’t like it, because they’re all the typical excuses you’ve heard before. But unlike the things that we usually have an aversion toward, we really appreciate sushi for how it looks. The things, all wrapped up as they are, they’re beautiful. We just don’t want them anywhere near our mouths. And apparently, we’re not the only ones who appreciate it. Frog Design’s Frog Blog took a look in their post “The Design of Sushi” wherein they say “[it] is in my opinion, the most well designed human prepared meal.” Here’s a little more:

With the naturally occurring colors of fish and vegetables and the cylindrical (Maki) and oblong (Nigiri) forms, Sushi is beautiful. Whether presented singularly or in the context of other Sushi, there is a symmetry and considered quality to the presentation. The rectangular (or square) plates that Sushi is typically served on offset the organic and geometric shapes of the Sushi itself. These are usually muted in color so as to enhance the color of the food. The individual pieces are placed in relation to the plate and other Sushi with a precision that makes the total package (when viewed from the top) very painterly. When viewed from other angles, a Sushi plate looks like a small sculpture garden.

We Find New Mexico’s Flag Interesting and So Should You


As part of our commitment to you, trying to bring you the most interesting stories from around the world, we do such innovative things as subscribing to news feeds! It’s that kind of dedication that brings this high-class reporting straight from our keyboard-hitting-fingers to your squinting-overly-tired-eyeballs. And sometimes we even manage to make it through all of these feeds and alerts, past the seven billion daily new product press releases and the technical gibberish we don’t understand, and find something really quirky and interesting. Today is that day, dear readers, as we happened upon this article from the newspaper, The Free New Mexican, all about the history of the New Mexico flag. Flags, yes, are inherently cool, and they always seem to have a really interesting backstory. Yet how often do you find yourself looking up info about flags? That’s right, never. So here’s a very thorough look at where one of them came from. Oh, and you think these “re-design our website and win $342!” contests are bad, here’s the scoop on how much NM’s flag design went for:

In 1923, the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, backed by several women’s clubs, sponsored a contest and offered a $25 prize for the best flag design. The winning entry was submitted by Santa Fe physician Dr. Harry P. Mera, who had first come to the area for his health.

Happy Holidays From Our Favorite Ferry Terminal

We haven’t received much in the way of holiday well-wishes over here at UnBeige HQ, but our profound and saddening feeling of overlookedness was mitigated with the receipt of this card from none other than BFF-in-training and constant party pal Fred Schwartz. In the spirit of keeping the holiday (redundancy!) spirit alive, we’re recreating the magic:


Thank you, Fred!