More than 5,000 items salvaged from the wreck of the Titanic are being put up for auction in April to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the disaster. The collection has been prepared and will be sold in bulk on April 11 on the condition that whoever buys the treasures will keep parts of the collection on public display and preserve the ship wreckage for future generations.
The ocean liner hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 14, 1912 and early the next morning the unsinkable Titanic sank. At the time, the Titanic was the world's most luxurious and largest ship, carrying 2,228 people from Southampton, England to New York. More than 1,500 people died in the disaster.
The first artifacts from the ship were recovered 25 years ago. While this is not the first auction of Titanic memorabilia, it is the first time items taken from the wreckage site will be sold.
Premier Exhibitions Inc. had previous ownership of the collection, but spokesman Brain Wainger said it is time to pass off the treasures to another collection. The company claims maintaining the treasures and ship wreckage, although a worthy pursuit, has become too expensive.
What it means to be steward of this wreck site is to save history, Wainger told reporters.
A 2007 court ordered appraisal found that the value of the artifacts and intellectual property rights of Titanic Inc. could amount to $189 million. Auctioneer Arlan Ettinger told reporters Thursday that there is no way to tell what the winning bid for the collection will be.
It's easy to appraise certain objects where there's a precedent, he said, giving a famous Picasso painting as an example. But not one object that was on the ship when it went down has ever been sold.