Not only is this crystal skull allegedly the most notable of that country's crystal skulls, it is said to have great cultural significance. The plaintiff alleges it was stolen from a temple and illegally taken out of the country decades ago. Worst of all, he says, this very same skull was featured in the 2008 film, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which grossed almost $800 million worldwide, of which Belize has received exactly zero dollars. The plaintiff is therefore suing not only the current possessor of the skull and the estate of those who stole it, but also LucasFilm, Walt Disney and Paramount, seeking not only the return of the skull but also an accounting of profits and so forth and so on.
According to the complaint, while today "archaeologists, anthropologists and tourists alike are drawn to destinations such as Xunantunich in the name of discovery," with great package deals probably available now, 100 years ago it "was coveted for slightly different reasons." Specifically, people wanted to come steal Mayan artifacts. More specifically, F.A. Mitchell-Hedges and his daughter Anna wanted to steal them. In 1924, so the story goes, they found a crystal skull buried under an altar, "a fact [his daughter] would disclose in a documentary produced by NBC ... and aired on the 'SciFi' cable network in 2008." What she disclosed in this documentary—undoubtedly fully vetted by a team of experts at SciFi, the network that brought you "Mansquito"—was that they did indeed find and export the skull and that she had inherited it after her father's death. She died in 2007, according to the complaint, and the "Mitchell-Hedges Skull" now resides with her husband in Chesterton, Indiana.
So what's with the skull? Well, a crystal skull is a crystal that has been carved into the shape of a skull. Not impressed yet? "These artifacts are attributed to Maya origin." Still not impressed? "Associated in today's popular culture with having magical or other supernatural powers"—and that right there is where the bullshit starts to deepen—"each of the four known Crystal Skulls holds tremendous value not only for its rarity but also as a semi-precious stone. There are only three Crystal Skulls on public display worldwide," the complaint alleges, housed at the British Museum, the Smithsonian, and the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. One of the defendants has the fourth.
I also have one on my shelf, but let's keep that between us for now.
Are these items indeed magic alien crania or Mayan psychic doodads with remarkable powers? Are they priceless Belizian cultural heirlooms? Click below for the surprising answer!