Christie’s is proud to announce the debut of The Raptor as part of the New York Spring Marquee Week of sales on the evening of 12 May 2022. The iconic raptor (Deinonychus) stands dynamically poised at nearly 10 feet long, containing 126 fossil bones in an incredible state of preservation from approximately 115 – 108 million years ago. As one of the most famous and rarest dinosaurs—and the most complete skeleton of his species ever found—The Raptor is estimated at $4 million – 6 million USD.

The Raptor was excavated from Wolf Canyon, in Montana, Wyoming and has since been in private hands. It has been exhibited only once in Copenhagen at the Natural History Museum of Denmark from June  2020 to December 2021. With a handful of recorded specimens found and only two skeletons in museum collections, The Raptor is the single most complete Deinonychus known to exist, and the only privately owned specimen.

Facts at glance:  

  •       A highly cunning species, Deinonychus was likely to have been an agile theropod as well as a dexterous killer 
  •       The discovery of the raptor in the 60s ushered in a new era in our understanding of dinosaurs as warm-blooded feathered predators.
  •       The sickle claws on the hind legs were the main force of attack — the name Deinonychus means “terrible claw”.
  •       Deinonychus is the inspiration for what they called the ‘Velociraptor’ in Jurassic Park

James Hyslop, Christie’s Head of Department, Books, Travel & Scienceremarks, “We’re elated to welcome The Raptor to Christie’s  during this outstanding season of Marquee Week sales and to spotlight this scientific marvel in our New York City galleries. Following the 2020 sale of STAN, it is an absolute privilege to showcase a rare dinosaur species, especially one revered both globally and culturally. The Raptor’s presence is truly captivating and ultimately a reminder that this iconic predator remains truly thrilling to a worldwide audience and an everlasting moment of the zeitgeist.” 

Fifty million years before the reign of the dinosaurs ended in the age of Tyrannosaurus rex, a smaller, more agile, pack-hunting predator was the most feared—and smartest—animal of its time. Known for its swift gait, lethal sickle claws and potent kick housed in an elegant, compact frame, Deinonychus was an incredibly sophisticated dinosaur species of theropods (carnivorous animals that can walk on two legs).  

In 1969, palaeontologist John Ostrom coined the name Deinonychus which translates aptly to “terrible claw,” to reference the lethal sickle claw present on each foot. With the claw held off the ground when not in use to maintain its sharpness, the raptor would stand on one leg, holding the target in its long arms, and pierce its prey with a mighty kick. Unlike most dinosaurs, the raptor’s method of attack was aided by the ability to use its arms and stretch its hand up to nine inches in length while standing on its hind legs when attacking others in its path. This aggressive, upright stance was facilitated by a long tail that provided balance; it would otherwise be stretched horizontally when running and contributed to the raptor’s exceptional length measuring approximately 10 feet or 3 meters long. 

The Raptor will be on view at Christie’s New York from Saturday, 30 April – Wednesday, 11 May 2022. It will be sold on the evening of Thursday, 12 May 2022.

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