The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912 after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage from England to the United States, killing over 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers on board. As the 100-year anniversary draws near, interest in the ship is peaking.
The bidding for the largest ever sale of Titanic artifacts closed on Monday and the winner is set to be announced at a press conference on April 11. The auction contains more than 5,500 items recovered between 1987 and 2004 from the final resting place of the Titanic, over 12,000 feet below the Atlantic Ocean.
The entire collection was valued at $189 million in 2007 and due to legal rulings the collection must be sold as a single lot, not piece by piece inorder to ensure that the collection isn't fragmented and is around for future generations, Arlen Ettinger, president of Guernsey's, the auction house managing the sale, told NPR. It's a timeless story, he said.
The court, in its wisdom, wants to make sure that there is a collection to represent the Titanic down the road, Ettinger told NPR. And although scientists may disagree how long it will take, they do agree that sooner or later there'll be no more wreck on the bottom of the sea. It'll be just rusted away and swept away in the currents.So this collection is, for all purposes, the Titanic. And the court simply wants to make sure it stays intact.
The auction includes jewelry, clothes, life vests and even a 20-ton section of the ship's hull. The buyer must make the collection available for public viewing and research as a condition of the sale.
In addition to the artifacts, the winning bidder also receives hundreds of hours of video of the ship and recovery effort and a 3D map of the ship and surrounding debris.
We just hope that it remains properly conserved and cared for and that the collection remains intact, Dominique Rissolo, executive director of the Waitt Institute, which was involved in mapping the wreck site, told CNN. We would prefer that it never enter private hands -- it's not about ownership but telling a story.