1.Pocket Watch From Titanic Victim Sold For $57,500 (Smithsonian,29 Aug 2018)
On April 15, 1912, Sinai Kantor was among the more than 1,500 people who lost their lives when the Titanic plunged into the North Atlantic. Recovery workers later pulled his body from the ocean and found a number of items that had been on his person when he died. One of those items, a pocket watch marked with Hebrew letters, recently sold at auction for $57,500, reports the Associated Press. John Miottel, owner of the private Miottel Museum in California, purchased the watch at auction. He already owns a number of timepieces that belonged to Titanic victims, including John Jacob Astor IV, the financier who helped build the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, and Oscar Woody, the Titanic’s U.S. Postal Clerk.
2. Bankrupt Titanic Exhibitor Sets Biggest Sale of Ship Relics (Bloomberg, 30 Aug 2018)
This story, as predicted, is getting more heated now. To sum up: the current owner is bankrupt and wants to sell its most prized possession of all-the historic Titanic artifact collection. In the past getting anyone to put up the money was so difficult–due to constrictions imposed on the salvage award–that no one could afford purchasing it as one set. The article indicates three possible bidders:
1. Daoping Bao, has proposed a plan backed by a bevy of investment funds and Chinese businessmen who have bought $2 million of the company’s debt. Among Bao’s backers are Hong Kong-based PacBridge Capital Partners Ltd. and U.S.-based Apollo Global Management. Bao’s group is pledging to keep the collection intact and within reach of U.S. courts while planning to ramp up scientific and tourist expeditions to the wreck. Bao’s group raised their bid to $19.5 million
2. Titanic Branson
The owners of Titanic Branson and Titanic Pigeon Forge would like to purchase it and have made an offer in the past of $5-10 million that was turned down.
3. James Cameron & Museums: Cameron and a group of museums are offering $19.2 million.
As I suspected earlier, the Chinese are putting up a lot of money so they can move this to their theme park in China where a Titanic replica will be built. Make no mistake on this one, serious money is being put on the table. The downside is that once they are out of the U.S., there is no guarantee they will abide by the salvage award requirements. They claim they will keep it in U.S. but most are not sure they will do this. The bids from the Pigeon Forge and Cameron group is serious as well and both would likely keep the collection together.
And it is still possible that the bankruptcy court could conclude the easiest path is to auction off the pieces and pay off the debt rather than deal with the bids. The Bao group has put down a cash deposit to show they are serious. It is also possible that the government could step in to prevent its sale to Bao. That would leave the other two players. Certainly the Cameron group has museums behind him that know a lot about conserving artifacts. As for Pigeon Forge, they could end up getting it if the court is uncertain of the other two bids and wants to keep it right here in the U.S.