On Wednesday, one of the most entertaining lawsuits of the year was filed in Illinois federal court. It comes from Dr. Jaime Awe, director of the Institute of Archeology of Belize. This real-life Indiana Jones is suing on behalf of the nation of Belize over the Crystal Skull artifact, popularized in the 2008 Steven Spielberg film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Awe is demanding the return of the Crystal Skull from a treasure-hunting family who allegedly stole it 88 years ago from Belize, and if that’s not enough, the lawsuit targets Lucasfilm, its new owner the Walt Disney Co. and Paramount Pictures, which released the Crystal Skull film, for allegedly using a replica “likeness” of the Crystal Skull. Among the damages claimed are the “illegal profits” of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The lawsuit filed by attorney Adam Tracy attempts to make this claim by saying that Belize has a “right, title and interest in and to the Mitchell-Hedges Skull and its likeness,” and that the film companies have participated in a civil conspiracy and tortiously interfered with its prospective economic advantage.
Problem. It didn’t come from Belize. From Skeptoid:
The Mitchell-Hedges skull is not quite 3,600 years old, and Mitchell-Hedges found it a little closer to home than Belize. In fact, he bought it from Sydney Burney, a London art dealer, through a Sotheby’s auction on October 15, 1943, as determined in hard black and white by investigator Joe Nickell and others. This explains why neither Mitchell-Hedges nor his daughter ever said anything about it following their alleged 1926 discovery. They had never heard of it, until they bought it 18 years later, and then invented their Mayan altar story.
Read Joe Nickell’s complete report: Riddle of the Crystal Skulls
That sort of negates the whole claim.
Crystal skull are claimed to be extraordinary, made possibly by extraterrestrials or from Atlantis. They have magical powers and give off of weird sounds. Find more on Skeptic’s Dictionary:
The questionable origin of the Mitchell-Hedges skull has not deterred belief in the skull’s mysterious properties. Rather, at least 13 other skulls have mysteriously appeared over the years. Some of these skulls are claimed to have magical origins and healing powers. However, a study of several crystal skulls by the British Museum in 1996 indicates that the only magic involved in the creation of these skulls was in keeping their fraudulent origin a secret. The study concluded that the skulls were made in Germany within the past 150 years.
Speaking of Mayan-related lawsuits, here is a very interesting story. Once upon a time, Kellogg’s (of the cereal brand) sued the Maya Archeology Initiative for using a toucan in their logo. Except that was ridiculous. After negotiations, Kellogg has dropped their request for MAI to stop using the toucan in their logo (you can’t trademark a real bird) and became a supporter of MAI’s projects!
UPDATE (14-Dec-2012): Now Awe says he wants no part of it. What’s going on? Promotion? Maybe so.
Thanks to our tipster!