Sons Benjamin and Jacob returned some time later and told their dad they had found a bone so big they couldn't carry it. Likewise her movie. The Justice Department wanted to make an example of them, to discourage other commercial fossil hunters who had been taking advantage of lackluster protection of federal property. A 150 million-year-old dinosaur discovered in Wyoming went under the hammer at Aguttes auction house in Paris in June 2018. But the media attention the fossil had brought the Institute lit a fire under a criminal investigation that would have even worse personal consequences for Peter Larson and his team. In 1992, visiting paleontologists began to excavate the bones and realized he was in fact a Tyrannosaurus rex. As a team from the South Dakota Museum of Geology at the School of Mines — where Sue was to be taken — started to package the fossil, hundreds of local protesters arrived, including children. Such is the appetite for these pieces that they sold for more than $1.6 million each, with Hôtel Drouot commenting that it was "exceptional" for dinosaurs to command such a high price.

Despite its various injuries and illnesses, Sue is thought to have been the ripe old age of 28 when it died — not bad considering that life expectancy for a T-Rex has been estimated at 35. A remarkably well-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex, she would turn out to be 80% complete. Located in Hill City, SD, (population 1,028), the Black Hills Institute is a fossil collection, fossil shop, and fossil-preparing workshop founded by brothers Peter and Neal Larson in 1974. Extracting the fossil, which was embedded in the rocks, was no easy feat and the challenge of getting the dinosaur out without smashing any of the bones made it a painstakingly slow operation. PBS reported that Bob Farrar was found guilty of two felonies, but his charges were later thrown out. In 1994, United States District Judge Richard Battey ruled that Williams hadn't had the right to sell Sue to the Institute in 1990 because he hadn't requested permission from the federal government, so the $5,000 purchase was void.

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