The Titanic is going under again, but this time, some of its valuables might not be going down with it.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Premier exhibitions (PRXI), the company behind the “Titanic” and “Bodies” exhibitions, is asking a bankruptcy judge for approval to sell some of its artifacts. After facing legal challenges and the early closure of its “Saturday Night Live” exhibition, Premier filed for bankruptcy protection last week.
The company will put the proposal before a judge in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Jacksonville, Fla., on July 12 .
In a series of expeditions extending more than 30 years, Premier has salvaged more than 5,500 artifacts from the wreckage of the Titanic. The sale of just four artifacts could fetch $10 million or more at an auction, according to the Journal.
By selling some of the Titanic artifacts, the company would then have enough money to pay back all of its creditors, return all equity to shareholders, and even provide for funds for Premier through and after the bankruptcy process. Premier owes $12 million to unsecured creditors, according to the Journal.
Beginning in 1987, one of Premier’s affiliates worked with the French government’s oceanographic institute on a joint expedition to recover roughly 2,100 artifacts over the course of 32 dives. In 1993, Premier’s company went back down to the wreckage to bring more artifacts back to the surface. The again, between 1994 and 2004, the company collected more than 3,000 additional artifacts when it led expeditions to the wreckage site again.
The company hopes to sell a specific and “limited” amount of artifacts, despite the fact it, “recognizes and appreciates their historic value.” It will sell items mostly from the “French Collection,” or the objects retrieved on the initial trip in 1987. The sale would be so minor that it would leave “99.5% of the French Collection intact,” the Journal reports.
This collection of artifacts includes a ring with a blue sapphire surrounded by 14 small diamonds, a sterling silver mesh ladies’ evening handbag, a steward’s jacket, and silver-plated chocolate or syrup pot used in the first-class restaurant. However, none of these are necessarily the items that would be for sale. This would be the first time the company has ever sold any of the Titanic’s artifacts it has salvaged.
There is a market for artifacts from the Titanic. The last remaining lunch menu from from the ship was expected to go from $50,000-$70,000. The menu was saved by Abraham Lincoln Salomon, a survivor who escaped on Lifeboat 1. A 100-year-old cracker sold for $23,000 at an auction in 2015, which was saved from a Titanic lifeboat by James Fenwick, a passenger on the Carpathia, the cruise liner that picked up Titanic survivors.
If Titanic memorabilia wasn’t enough, an Australian millionaire is planning to re-create the original Titanic that will set sail in 2018. The Titanic II will be an exact replica of the first, and will feature nine floors and 840 cabins, along with Turkish baths, a swimming pool and a gym.