The wreckage from Titanic could fetch close to $220 million at an auction this year even though the doomed ship may be under 2.5 miles of water.
In a May 18 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Jacksonville, Florida, Premier Exhibitions Inc. has proposed the sale. Amid a fight over artifacts it recovered from the vessel with the help of the French government, the Atlanta-based company and its RMS Titanic Inc. unit filed for Chapter 11 protection in June.
In April 1912, after the Titanic, the biggest passenger liner of its day, hit an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, more than 1,500 people died. The wreck wasn’t located until 1985.
how he found the ship while helping the U.S. Navy investigate sunken submarines was described by oceanographer Robert Ballard in a 2008 article in National Geographic News. Dozens of dives to recover artifacts including jewelry, clothing and dinnerware from the ship’s watery grave was attempted and undertaken by Premier Exhibitions along with the French government since 1987.
According to a regulatory filing, Premier was subsequently named the “salvor-in-posession” of the site after it had resumed the hunt in 1993 without French involvement. Until a bankruptcy judge last year rejected France’s efforts to establish its interest, the company and the French government continued to squabble over rights to the items.
a pair of blue and white striped men’s pajamas, a traveling receipt for “one canary in a cage” and a pair of never-worn white gloves were among some of the artifacts that Premier exhibited during a selection of artifacts in Las Vegas last year.
According to a 2014 appraisal included in the docket, an estimated market value of $218 million has been accorded to the combined collection of 5,500 artifacts.
In the past, artifacts from the Titanic have been the subject of intense interest.
According to the auction house Henry Aldridge & Son, items as small as a cracker from the lifeboat survival kit have sold for the equivalent of $23,000, and a fur coat worn by a first-class stewardess fleeing the shipwreck went for the equivalent of $235,000 this year in the U.K.
Premier said it will seek to line up an opening bidder for the auction, tentatively set for November and added in court papers that, with creditor approval, it will market the Titanic relics. The bankruptcy court must approve any sale.
According to court filings, creditors are owed more than $10 million. Making the fate of RMS Titanic Inc. much happier than that of its namesake vessel, the sale could raise enough cash to repay them and offer shareholders a recovery as well.
The case is RMS Titanic Inc., 16-02230, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida (Jacksonville).
(Adapted from Bloomberg)