Heritage Auction Gallery in Dallas, Texas is auctioning items from the Charles Pelligrino collection that includes an actual piece of Titanic. According to the press release:
“This section, however, was part of the “crackage” of the great boat, which sheared away from the vessel as it broke in half, and was recovered from the ocean floor some distance from the wreck. A semicircular depression in one corner of the piece is evidence of the force with which the ship cracked, sufficient to pop a rivet completely away from the hull. It has become essentially fossilized after the bio-absorption.”
On my discussion list I speculated that RMS Titanic Inc. (part of Premiere Exhibitions) likely would be upset and go to court. One of the list participants contacted Premiere and was told discussions were going on, and that the auction house would be making a correction.
So far nothing has been released just yet but the obvious question is how Pellegrino acquired this piece. We know Titanic split in two and that there is a debris field between them. Most (but not all) artifacts come from the debris field. Some artifacts were brought up before RMS Titanic Inc (RMSTI) filed for salvage rights (some by RMSTI and the French brought some up as well). So it is possible this piece came up before any salvage rights were awarded.
The press release is rather vague about where it was found. It implies it was found away from the debris field which might put it outside of RMSTI’s control. And we do not know who certified it as part of Titanic. It will be interesting to watch how this story unfolds.