How Much Will People Bid For This Big Ol' Piece of Prehistoric Shit?

How do you price this shit? Just look at whatever the fossilized shit market will bear.

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Jul 18 2014, 7:50pm
Image: I.M. Chait

In case you needed proof that the rich actually are just like us, if less mature, check out this gigantic piece of fossilized shit—I mean, excuse me, coprolite. It's going up for auction as part of the Los Angeles auction house I.M. Chait's "Important Natural History Auction" at Chait's Beverly Hills gallery on July 26—starting at 1 p.m. Pacific Time (4 p.m. Eastern). Mark your calendars accordingly.

The whole "Important Natural History Auction" is actually really rad looking. They're auctioning off a pair of saber-tooth tigers that are fighting and megaladon teeth and a mummified hand, the copy for which fails to mention whether it's cursed, so, you know, take that into account when bidding.

Speaking of copy, whoever wrote the copy for Lot 340 "ENORMOUS AND RARE COPROLITE" was obviously having a blast when he or she wrote the description:

This truly spectacular specimen is possibly the longest example of coprolite—fossilized dinosaur feces—ever to be offered at auction. It boasts a wonderfully even, pale brown-yellow coloring and terrifically detailed texture to the heavily botryoidal surface across the whole of its immense length. The passer of this remarkable object is unknown, but it is nonetheless a highly evocative specimen of unprecedented size, presented in four sections, each with a heavy black marble custom base, an eye-watering 40 inches in length overall.

As Popular Science pointed out in their coverage, the copy does contain an error: "Since dinosaurs died out long before this item was excreted, it is obviously the output of some other creature," Alexandra Ossola noted.

You might be wondering, as I did, how one prices a big piece of shit, so I frantically emailed a friend who works at another high-end auction house.

"All based on what similar items have sold for in the past—I'm sure if you searched you could find other coprolite that's been offered at auction—and what specialists believe the current demand is amongst collectors," he said. “Most of the time the auction house will have a client in mind for a lot—'Mr. Jones of Palm Beach would probably be willing to spend at least fifteen thousand on this,' or 'Mr. Jones has expressed interest in obtaining some shit in the past.'

He was kind enough to inform me that the auction estimate exists to entice bidding—so the 40-inch wonder might blow right past the $8,000-$10,000 estimation. Some auction houses use a more conservative bidding estimation, to induce someone to bid more. It's sort of a psych out.

"For example, I might get you to bid if I start at six thousand, but you won't even try if I begin at ten thousand," he said, clearly ignoring what must be obvious about my financial situation for the sake of example. "Once I've got you bidding, however, you will usually keep bidding above and beyond your preconceived end point. In short, you want to stay in the game; you love the competition."

One thing is for sure: this isn't the first bit of coprolite to go up for sale. Bonhams put a necklace made of coprolite and dinosaur bones up for auction in 2006; Christie's put up an attractively mounted set of three coprolites for auction last year. Nevertheless, this Chait auction shit is comparatively bananas.

For the more budget-conscious coprolite connoisseur, the I.M. Chait auction is also offerring other, smaller pieces as well. But if you do decide to go big before you go home, let me know. You're just the kind of person I'd like to meet.