The bankruptcy proceedings of Premier Exhibitions have been lumbering on for a while with not much to report on. But on 17 August a major decision was made. Premier decided to put up for sale a certain set of artifacts known collectively as the French Artifacts. These artifacts were brought up as part of a joint project but were excluded from the salvage award currently in place as they were property of the French government.
Premier filed to put these up for sale. Papers were served on French Embassy notifying them of the claim and their right to challenge it in court. Well they did not do so. As a result a default judgment has been entered against them with a finding that France had no interest in the French Artifacts. After some formal paperwork is done, the next step will be to come up with a satisfactory method of auctioning them off so that debts can be retired and creditors paid.
The artifacts covered under the current salvage award are unaffected by this decision.
Premier Exhibitions has confirmed it has received multiple letters of intent to be a stalking horse bidder for its assets which include the Titanic artifact collection. Both the company and the equity security holders committee will assess the bidders qualifications and announce on 25 September 2017 who the stalking horse bidder will be. An auction, if needed, will occur by 30 November 2017 and other bidders will be able to bid at that time.
Source: Premier Exhibitions Titanic Artifact Bidders Confirmed (bankruptcompanynews,26 Jul 2017)
Queen Mary is hosting Titanic in Photographs-The Exhibition. The exhibition has photographs that span its beginnings until it sank in 1912. According to Long Beach Press Telegram:
Located in the stern of the ship, next to the Engine Room, the new educational gallery area features over 100 images that document the ship-building process through completion, immersing visitors on a journey through the Titanic’s luxurious amenities, from its staterooms and First Class Lounge to the Turkish bath, swimming pool, and Grand Staircase. The photos are paired with dozens of artifacts — like silverware, crystal, and china — from the Titanic, as well as from two sister oceanliners, the Olympic and the Carpathia.
August is nearly here and summer is in full bloom. Titanic news has been quiet. There are still news stories out there about the Premiere Exhibitions bankruptcy and the possible sale of Titanic artifacts. Analysts hope Premier is able to get out of the hole it is in. Ditto for the shareholders who are hoping that at long last perhaps the company will get back on track.
Of course the debate raging in some circles is over Titanic artifacts. Premier has a difficult time trying to sell them before as the salvage award restricts their sale and it comes with restrictions for the buyer. James Cameron is diving into the fray trying to raise money to buy them. The best outcome might be for some government or government backed entity to buy them. The huge price tag keeps most museums and institutions from really pursuing the matter. Of course all bets would be off should Premier decide to liquidate rather than reorganize. And no one is talking about that right now.
The International Ice Patrol has for a long time depended upon planes to spot and help track icebergs. Their work is very important for everyone who transits across the North Atlantic. And thanks to their work, the threat of icebergs to ships has been greatly reduced. Now they are making changes. Instead of flying planes as much, the Ice Patrol is implementing the use of satellite technology to detect and monitor icebergs. The problem though is that satellite images only detect icebergs only 50% of the time compared to using planes. For the moment a combination of planes and satellite images are going to be used to monitor icebergs. (Keeping an Eye on What the Arctic Throws Down Iceberg Alley,newsdeeply.com,21 July 2017)
Molly Brown was one of the people that became well known after Titanic sank. Her 150th birthday was recently celebrated at her home in Denver, Colorado. As befitting her style, it was celebrated as a block party. Food, entertainment and tours of her home (now a museum) were done. She was quite a gal.
Plaque To Commemorate Hatfield Man Who Died On Titanic(Welwyn Hatfield Times,15 Jul 2017) The council’s Blue Plaque Scheme aims to promote the recognition and awareness of people, places and events which have been of lasting significance to Hatfield. Town council leader Lenny Brandon said: “I’m extremely pleased to introduce this exciting new initiative to Hatfield.” It is hoped that Joseph’s official plaque will be unveiled in the town later this year.Further details about the scheme can be found on the council’s website www.hatfield-herts.gov.uk
£28 Million Titanic Hotel Unveiled(Irish Times,5 Jul 2017) Harcourt Developments is behind the 119-bedroom Titanic Hotel Belfast in the former Harland & Wolff drawing offices, where the plans for the Titanic itself were dreamt up in the 1890s. It will be the eighth hotel in the multi-million pound company’s portfolio, sitting alongside a collection of properties in locations from Liverpool to the Caribbean. Harcourt – who’ve been front and centre of the Titanic Quarter regeneration over the last decade – flung open the showpiece hotel’s doors to the media ahead of letting its first overnight visitors (rooms start at £160 a night) get their heads down from September 10.
Former Titanic Drawing Rooms Restored(BBC News, 4 Jul 2017) A £5m renovation project has restored the historic drawing offices at Belfast shipyard where plans for the Titanic were made. The two arched rooms were at the heart of the old Harland and Wolff headquarters building.
Thousands Of Titanic Artefacts To Be Sold After Owner Goes Bankrupt (antiquestradegazette.com,4 Jul 2017) Experts predict it is unlikely the court will allow a public auction and instead the items will have to be sold to an institution. However, if they were to come to auction it is likely UK auction firm Henry Aldridge & Son in Devizes, which holds regular Titanic memorabilia auctions, would be among the auctioneers considered for the job.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition Opens at the Prestigious Guangdong Museum in Guangzhou, China (Premier Exhibitions, 3 Jul 2017)) Premier Exhibitions, Inc. (OTCQB:PRXIQ), announced today the opening of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Guangdong Museum in Guangzhou, China. This remarkable 20,000 square foot exhibition, is one of the largest in the Company’s history, with more than 300 artifacts and brand-new room re-creations. This is the first time the Company has presented Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition in a Tier 1 museum in China. The exhibition opening was made possible through the generous support, assistance and presence of the Minister of State Administration of Cultural Heritage and representatives of the Department of Culture of Guangdong Province.
The story thus far: Premier Exhibitions, which owns RMS Titanic Inc, has filed for bankruptcy. A decision has been reached to sell the Titanic collection (the artifacts and intellectual property). One problem is the Titanic salvage award limits how those artifacts can be sold: as one collection. Past attempts to sell have failed because the price is too high. And now our story resumes….
Could a famous Hollywood director put together the money needed to buy the collection? The U.K. Daily Mail reports that James Cameron has begun a “secret” rescue mission to bring the Titanic artifacts to the U.K. He has apparently teamed up with Robert Ballard, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the Royal Geographical Society to accomplish this. The figure being reported is £165 million.
Details of this “secret” mission were revealed at a court hearing last week by Ballard. Of course nothing is final and it is the very early stages. I doubt they will be the only party that will be interested. The Chinese would like to add it to their theme park and have money to spend as well. And there are investors in Dubai who also would not mind having the Titanic collection there as well that will draw in tourists. ave Vermillion, spokesman for RMS Titanic Inc, confirmed they have interest from all over the world.
Hopefully this time they will actually sell it to someone who will properly conserve it. The bidding war, if that is what it becomes, ought to be fascinating.
Summer tends to be a slow for Titanic news so I generally do not post as often as many people are away on summer break. Here is some recent Titanic news of interest to Titanic enthusiasts and others.
1. Lego model of Titanic built with 125,000 pieces on display in Cavendish (CBC News, 24 June 2017)
There have been some fantastic recreations of Titanic using Lego. And here is one that most definitely took a lot of work and love to do. “The Lego Titanic model is made up of about 125,000 pieces and measures about nine metres long, said the Maritime Fun Group’s Jessica Caseley. t’s quite large. So, when you go up to it, it just looks like a large boat. You start to notice all of the details. You could probably spend 10 to 20 minutes just examining the structure itself. Yeah, it’s really neat,” she said.
2. Margaret Brown led a remarkable life even apart from surviving the Titanic (A.V.Club, 18 June 2017) Mrs. Brown dove into high society, becoming a devotee of the arts and learning four languages. She raised funds for a cathedral in Denver, and helped establish the country’s first juvenile court. Two years after the Titanic, Brown ran for the U.S. Senate, but cut her campaign short to volunteer to help France recover from the first World War. She used her Titanic fame to work for workers’ rights, women’s rights, education, and historic preservation, before dying of a brain tumor at age 65.
3. Masabumi Hosono survived the Titanic, but not the public’s scorn (A.V. Club, 25 June 2017) Initially, Hosono was celebrated alongside other survivors. An American newspaper ran a story on the “Lucky Japanese Boy.” (As Hosono was 41, “Boy” seems to be racism typical of the era.) But he was soon condemned both in America and at home for not honoring the ethos of “women and children first.” A best-selling book about Titanic survivors described him as a “stowaway” on the lifeboat, and the seaman in charge of the lifeboat told the U.S. Senate he must have disguised himself as a woman to sneak on board. Neither account was true—by his own account, Hosono saw other lifeboats depart and mentally prepared himself for death. But as lifeboat 10 was loading up, someone shouted “room for two more!” and Hosono followed another man on board. It’s hard to imagine anyone else would have acted differently in the same situation.
4. Premier Exhibitions Bankruptcy Update
Premier filed its monthly operating report for May 2017. According to the filing “The Debtors have entered a Plan Support Agreement under which they have agreed to propose a Chapter 11 reorganization plan which the Equity Committee supports. Under the Plan Support Agreement, the Debtors and the Equity Committee are engaged in a marketing process to sell all of the Debtors’ assets, including the entire Titanic Artifacts Collection either as assets of the estate or through the sale of RMS Titanic Inc., the company that holds the Titanic Artifacts. The remaining Debtors and their assets likewise would be sold. The deadline for receipt of initial letters of intent is currently scheduled for July 21, 2017.” Further information can be found at the following links:
June 23, 2017
Premier Exhibitions 8-K: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/796764/000117184317003792/f8k_062317.htm
1. A Harland & Wolff minute book that has information about RMS Titanic is coming up for auction on 20 June 2017. According to the Belfast Telegraph, this minute book contains information between 1905-1918 that chronicles the day-to-day business of the shipyard. Reference to Titanic is contained within its pages such as the balance sheet for 1910-1911 showing that Titanic was a work in progress. It is valued between £400-£600. Remarkably a teapot used that was used on Herman Goerings private dining car is valued between £2,500-£3,500.
Source: Titanic records, Ulster Covenant and Nazi Goering’s teapot at Belfast auction (Belfast Telegraph, 13 June 2017)
2. This is not new news but adds more information. As previously reported, a Washington State based startup company plans to dive to Titanic in 2018. Unlike previous tourist dives, the participants are part of the expedition and must pass physicals. It will also cost over $100,000 (the actual fee is today’s equivalent of first class on Titanic).
Source: Washington submarine firm to take people to the Titanic (Las Vegas Review Journal, 14 June 2017)
3. Rare liquors have their own following and very high prices. Consider one called Marie Brizard Danzig,a liqueur that was served on Titanic in 1912. Louis Renualt, the founder of Renault cars, found out that it was served aboard the famous ship and tracked down this rare liqueur and put into his personal collection. Now what makes this such a rare find is that this liqueur contains gold shards (22-23 carat) and was created by a Dutchman in the 16th century. Michel-Jack Chasseuil, a private collector, purchased this rare bottle from Renault’s descendants and it will be on display at VinExpo Bordeaux 18-21 June 2017. You can somewhat share in the experience if you buy Danzig Goldwasser, which has a 22-carat gold leaf. Source: French liqueur brand Marie Brizard is set to unveil an “exceptionally rare” liqueur once served on board the doomed RMS Titanic at this year’s Vinexpo in Bordeaux (The Spirits Business, 16 June 2017)
To close off this Sunday post is great song from Boz Scaggs. Enjoy.
3. Titanic Belfast Celebrates Record-Breaking Year (Hospitality Ireland,11 May 2017) Titanic Belfast’s chief executive, Tim Husbands, stated that “2016/17 was a really strong year. Not only did we have our busiest day ever in August 2016, with an increase in numbers from key markets including Britain, USA, China, France, Germany and Australia, but we were also crowned World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the prestigious World Travel Awards.”More than 82% of those who visited the attraction in 2016 were from outside Northern Ireland, with over 40% of all visitors asserting that Titanic Belfast represented the sole reason for their journey to Northern Ireland.
As most of you are aware, Premier Exhibitions filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 which allows it to reorganize. On Friday it was announced that the Premier Exhibitions Equity Committee had entered into an agreement that “will include the sale all of the Debtors’ assets, including the entire Titanic Artifacts Collection either as assets of the estate or through the sale of RMS Titanic Inc., the company that holds the Titanic Artifacts. The remaining Debtors and their assets likewise would be sold.”
What it means is this: the company can be sold either whole or in parts depending upon the buyers interests. And the Titanic artifacts can be sold either as part of the sale of the whole company or through selling RMS Titanic Inc. The snag that has caused no sale on those artifacts under the salvage award is that they cannot be sold in lots or individually but as the one collection. And the price is simply too high. Under the present circumstances, the price might be lowered and also the possibility the bankruptcy judge might order it sold in lots in order to be sold. Before any of this can move forward, the judge has to agree to a disclosure statement.
Long ago when RMS Titanic Inc was made part of Premier (after some of the original founders of the company were removed and replaced) many thought it would lead to a better valued company. One wonders what really happened here. Titanic became very big after the movie and the centennial of the sinking. Belfast Titanic has done very well and makes money. Either the company was mismanaged and got way over their head or totally miscalculated how to monetize the assets (their exhibitions) to make a profit. Instead of Chapter 11, this is more like Chapter 13 now. The company’s assets are going to be sold in whole or in part to others now. The ghost of George Tulloch is laughing at those that brought this about.