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VALLEY AND VENTURA COUNTY | VENTURA COUNTY REVIEW /
LEO SMITH

Dinosaur Joins Lair of Marketing Company

April 21, 1998|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Deborah Torbert, who professionally rhapsodizes about the benefits of eating emu and ostrich meats, has added the birds' prehistoric relative to her promotional chores.

Her Oxnard-based Torbert Marketing business has joined with an online commercial fossil company to broker the sale of Mr. Z Rex--the given name to what is believed to be the largest and most complete male tyrannosaurus rex remains in the world.

Torbert is helping Jim Wyatt, owner of the Texas-based Fossilnet Inc., to find a consortium of prospective buyers for the skeleton. Asking price: $12 million.

Their strategy is to attract a group of investors to purchase the remains, which might then donate the specimen to a museum or keep the beast's bones private and erect one of the world's most rarefied frontyard ornaments.

"The price was set based on anticipated future proceeds from exhibition fees and sales of related items at a typical museum of natural history," Torbert said. The search for possible suitors is being made domestically and abroad.

Fewer than two dozen good specimens of these animals have ever been found. One of the most famous, Sue, was put up for sale last year at Sotheby's in New York. It lasted eight minutes on the auction block and fetched more than $8 million. The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago purchased the dinosaur with the help of individual and corporate sponsors.

Torbert, Wyatt and others involved in the marketing of the 21-foot-tall Mr. Z Rex, currently in storage in Kansas, will receive a percentage of the sale from the dinosaur's private owners.

The dinosaur's remains were unearthed in 1995 from private land in Harding County, S.D. The price tag includes delivery and setup reconstruction in any pose the buyer wishes.

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