The judge in the Premier Exhibitions bankruptcy case has approved the sale of the artifact collection to a hedge fund consortium for $19.5 million. The Equity Committee filed objections to the sale but the judge overruled them. A UK consortium attempted to raise funds to purchase the collection but withdrew after the judge ruled that potential buyers would have to raise $21.5 million to trigger an auction. Criticism of the sale process has been raised by both National Maritime Museum Greenwich (NMMG) and National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) who were part of the UK consortium.
It is unknown at this time whether the Equity Committee will appeal the judge’s decision. The artifact sale will still have to be confirmed by the Federal Court in Virginia where the salvage award was litigated.
On 8 Oct 2018, Premier Exhibitions filed a Notice of Cancellation of Auction with the federal bankruptcy court as no other bidders met the minimum required. This means that the bid submitted by PacBridge Capital Partners (HK) et al for $19.5 million will stand. The company will now seek the court approval to sell the company and artifacts to them.
The Equity Committee has filed motions opposing the sale and still seeks other bidders.
The National Geographic reports that last Friday (29 June 2018) the U.K.’s National Museum and National Museums of Northern Ireland have filed papers with the bankruptcy court pledging to raise $19.2 million to buy Premier Exhibitions and the Titanic Exhibition. Both museums would co-own the artifacts and display them in Belfast. The non-Titanic part of Premier would be acquired by another exhibition firm called Running Subway. It is also reported that the CEO of Running Subway is on the Creditors Committee and that Premier’s creditors support the bid. A rival bid by existing shareholders is offering $17.5 million at the moment. Another proposal from the equity holders calls for splitting up the artifacts and selling them at auction.
The National Maritime Museum is pledging to conserve the artifacts and has the facilities to do it. They are worried that history would end up in private hands and possibly disappear. Famed explorer and one of the two men that can claim to have found RMS Titanic (the other was Jean-Louis Michel of Ifremer also aboard Knorr at the time), Bob Ballard, is a supporter. Certainly this adds a new complexity to the upcoming hearing on July 25 where the proposals will be considered by the court. If they can raise the money, they might be able to pull it off. Then again there are a lot of competing interests and lots of jockeying going on behind the scenes. Also the lawsuit against former officers could have an impact as well though hard to say at this point.
Another fascinating wrinkle in this story. Stay tuned, this is going to be interesting.
Titanic postcard with eerie message written by maid goes up for auction (New York Post, 19 June 2018) A postcard written by a maid on the Titanic to a friend which said “wish you were here” is expected to fetch more than $26,000 at auction.
Sarah Daniels wrote to pal Nell Green on April 11, 1912 – four days before the doomed liner hit an iceberg and sank which resulted in 1,503 lives lost. The pencil-written postcard, which bears a black-and-white picture of the Titanic, was addressed to Miss Green of Birmingham, England. The card has a post stamp of Queenstown, now Cobh in Cork, Ireland, which was the port from which mail written on board was posted.
-The postcard will be auctioned as part of a lot on July 18, 2018 by Warwick & Warwick Auctioneers.
Premier Exhibitions Update:
The Lawsuit is filed….After obtaining permission to pursue legal action, the Equity Committee of Premier Shareholders has filed suit against Mark Sellers, Sellers Capital, Daoping Bao and others alleging breach of fiduciary duty, a hasty merger with Daoping Bao without proper consideration of the merger, other opportunities, proper accounting review of Dinoking among other things. In short, you guys did a lousy job of running the company and an even more lousy job with merging with DinoKing. And now we want the shareholders, who lost equity in all of this, to get compensation. Ought to be interesting to watch. You can read the complaint here.
Summer is here and kids want to play? How about a Titanic Bouncy Slide?
The recent Taste of Charlotte festival usually has little controversy. This year for the event there was an inflatable slide in the shape of the sinking Titanic. It struck many as odd and in some cases offensive reported Fox46. Now this slide has been around for a while so it is nothing new. And while some did not like it, others had no problem having fun. Fun or tacky? Well I have said it before, if you turn tragedy into something like this you are bound to not appreciate that 1,500 died on a cold April night in 1912.
Source:Fun or Offensive? ‘Sinking Titanic’ slide at Taste of Charlotte turns heads (Fox46,12 June 2018)
According to a recent court filing, Premier Exhibitions has settled the largest general outstanding claim. The landlord of Premier’s former New York exhibition site asserted claims of $12.6 million in unpaid rent. Under the settlement, the former landlord will get $5.5 million and the other remaining claims are disallowed.
The deadline for submitting bids to be a stalking horse bidder for the acquisition of the company’s operating businesses and its assets has been extended to October 9, 2017. According to the press release:
Premier expects to conclude the process by October 9, 2017. In the event that an auction is to be conducted, it is expected that such auction will occur by December 12, 2017, at which time other potential bidders will have the opportunity to bid against the stalking horse bidder.
Among other things, bidders are competing to own the most valuable, unique collection of Titanic assets ever offered for sale. The collection includes approximately 5,500 individual pieces that have been recovered from the wreck site over the course of seven deep sea dives; ownership of video footage, imagery, and other intellectual and personal property; and the opportunity to be designated “salvor-in-possession,” permitting the owner exclusive salvage rights to the wreck and wreck site. The portfolio of artifacts, with enhancements recognizing the value of the intellectual property, was appraised at $218MM in 2014. The auction of the collection is subject to approval of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division, and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida (Jacksonville Division). For more information, please visit www.titanicartifacts.com.
1. Belfast’s Titanic Hotel Finally Opens After Birthplace Of Tragic Cruise Liner Is Transformed With £28MILLION Make-Over (Daily Mail, 11 Sep 2017) Chairman of Harcourt Developments, Mr Pat Doherty – who managed the project – welcomed family, friends, tourists and locals into the brand new site, which sat empty for thirty years. The dilapidated property, which is located on Belfast’s Queen’s Road, has been revived thanks in part to a £5million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Inside the new Titanic, however, guests will be housed in 120 rooms over four storeys, each with a classic, maritime-chic design. Thankfully, however, many of the original architectural features have been retained. The famous Drawing Rooms, where draftsmen sketched their designs for the ill-fated liner, have been sympathetically transformed into a function room and a bar. One even features the same tiles that lined the Titanic’s swimming pool.
2. Titanic Voyage To Be Recreated On Sydney Harbour (Guardian News, 21 Aug 2017) Beyond Cinema will take up to 1000 passengers on a sightseeing cruise boat for a screening of James Cameron’s hit movie, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet from 1997. After buying tickets to first-, second- or third-class decks, they will dress up as if it’s 1912 and eat meals appropriate to their class, with actors on board helping simulate the experience of being on the Titanic. “We’re going to fully theme the boat itself and recreate the atmosphere of the early 1900s,” the company’s creative director, Aden Levin, says. “Everyone will be given instructions on what clothing to wear. “They’ll also be given different characters that they will be on the boat.”
2.On 17 Aug 2017, a default entry of judgment was entered regarding the French Titanic Artifacts. Premier was required to file adverse legal action to compel France to declare whether they claimed ownership of these artifacts. They did not respond so the court has entered a default judgment in favor of Premier Exhibitions. This will allow these artifacts to be put up for auction. Source:Andrew Shapiro,Equity Security Holders of Premier Exhibitions, Inc
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.
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.
Things are getting a bit testy at the Titanic bankruptcy proceeding. Euclid Investments and Euclid Claims Recovery filed an objection to the company seeking an exclusivity extension. In simple terms they are not happy that Premier appears to be dragging its feet on following through on what is required to be done. “….management’s abject failure to engage with the statutory committees in moving these cases forward before now cannot be ignored. It has had the effect of placing estate stakeholders in an urgent and untenable position with little time remaining to formulate the terms of a chapter 11 plan as the estates now appear on the verge of operational insolvency.” Ouch.
Source: Premier Exhibitions Objection Filed (Bankruptcy News, 4 Jan 2017)
Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.