Titanic: The Auction
More Than 5,500 Items from the Ocean Floor to be Sold as One Collection
New York, New York - March 8, 2012 - It has been said that the word "Titanic" is the single most recognizable word in the human language. Indeed, to people from the largest cities on to those from the most remote rural areas, the tragic saga of the Titanic resonates like no other. Next month, a century following the legendary ocean liner Titanic's sole voyage, the unprecedented sale of artifacts recovered from the wreck site will be concluded.
The Collection being sold includes every one of the more than 5,500 artifacts found on the ocean floor within the extended debris field reaching out from the famous wreck. Also included is a substantial body of Intellectual Property such as hundreds of hours of video footage of the ship and the recovery effort, three-dimensional mapping of the complete ship and surrounding debris field, and other meaningful property pertaining to the ship today and into the future. Guernsey's will be offering all of the assets and rights of RMS Titanic, Inc., a division of Premier Exhibitions, Inc. (NASDAQ: PRXI), which for 18 years has served as steward and salvor-in-possession of Titanic and its wreck site. The purchaser may also have the opportunity to assume the role of steward of the Titanic, to protect and preserve the wreck site for future generations.
To be clear, this is the first and only sale of objects that have been recovered from the wreck site of Titanic located on the sea floor, two and a half miles below the ocean's surface. In accordance with the dictates of a United States District Court, and with the goal of long term preservation of this historic collection, all the artifacts and Intellectual Property will be sold as a single lot. The sale is subject to certain covenants and conditions to ensure the Collection will be properly maintained and available for public display. In accordance with its longstanding commitment to protect and preserve the Titanic, Premier Exhibitions intends to direct a portion of the proceeds generated by the sale to the Titanic Preservation Trust, an endowment fund created by the company for future conservation and maintenance of the artifacts removed from the wreck site.
The Collection is being viewed as one of the most significant bodies of material ever to be offered at auction.
News of the discovery of the wreckage of Titanic thrilled the world. After years of failed attempts, in 1985 a combined American and French team located the great ship resting two and a half miles beneath the frigid waters far off the coast of Nova Scotia. Two years later, the first efforts to thoroughly research and photograph the site were initiated. Using the most sophisticated manned-submersible in existence at the time, it was on this expedition that the initial artifacts were recovered from the ocean floor. Over the next 25 years, seven additional research and recovery expeditions produced more than 5,000 artifacts, in addition to an extensive and unprecedented array of still and video imagery of the ship, wreck site, and recovery efforts. These artifacts have undergone an extensive and meticulous conservation effort ever since. The importance of this collection is reflected in a 2007 appraisal in which the artifacts and certain elements of RMS Titanic, Inc's intellectual property, also a part of this auction, were valued at $189 million.
As one might imagine, the recovery effort demanded state-of-the-art technology to safely transport Titanic's fragile treasures to the conservators, archivists, scientists and historians waiting on the surface. The range of recovered items is nothing short of extraordinary. Small personal effects such as a hair pin, pipe, mesh purse, sheet music and eyeglasses were safely recovered, as was the enormous 17-ton portion of the ship's hull that has come to be known simply as "The Big Piece." A classic bronze cherub that once adorned the Grand Staircase, and the ship's steering wheel stand, both part of the stunning collection, are classic reminders of Titanic's grandeur and tragedy.
RMS Titanic, Inc. led its eighth mission to Titanic in 2010, and this mission is widely regarded as one of the most important archeological and scientific expeditions of its kind. Having assembled a consortium of the world's leading research organizations, including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (N.O.A.A.), The National Park Service, The Waitt Institute, and the Institute of Nautical Archeology, the expedition utilized the most advanced sonar and optical imaging systems available today. In doing so, RMS Titanic, Inc. and its partners created the first comprehensive map of the Titanic wreck site, definitively identifying the site boundaries and imaging all of the ship's features and artifacts within those boundaries. In addition, this technology allowed the consortium to create the first-ever complete images of the bow and stern sections of the ship.
At the January press conference announcing the Titanic sale that Guernsey's conducted on board another famous ship, the U.S.S. Intrepid, Mark Sellers, Chairman of Premier Exhibitions, Inc. and RMS Titanic, Inc., said, "Titanic is slowly being consumed by iron-eating microbes on the sea floor and, at some point in the not-too-distant future, it will be only a memory. Many of the artifacts we've brought up from the site would have disintegrated and been lost forever had this company not risked life and limb, and spent many millions of dollars and countless hours to raise and Rehabilitate them using cutting-edge conservation techniques. We are proud of what we have accomplished as salvor-in-possession of the wreck site and we believe we have faithfully honored the legacy of those who were lost. After all of these efforts, we have determined that the time has come for us to transfer ownership of this collection to a steward who is able to continue our efforts and will preserve and honor her legacy."
The Bidding Process
Due to the fact that the Court has retained the right of approval of the new owner of the Titanic Collection (to be assured that the aforementioned covenants will be adhered to), the sale of this astounding Collection will not be conducted in typical auction style. How it will be conducted follows:
Interested parties (be they individuals, institutions, corporations, municipalities, etc.) are urged to contact Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey's immediately. Informational packets will then be provided. If appropriate, executives of both Guernsey's and Premier Exhibitions are available to travel anywhere in an effort to provide complete information about the acquisition.
Once satisfied, bidders must submit their bids to Guernsey's, the auction house chosen by Premier Exhibitions for this unprecedented sale. Bids are due NOW. All bids will be reviewed and Guernsey's will contact the leading bidders for further discussion, after which the winning bidder will be determinded and annouced.