RICHMOND, Va. — Items as small as a hairpin and as big as a chunk of the Titanic's hull are among 5,000 artifacts from the world's most famous shipwreck that are to be auctioned in April, close to the 100th anniversary of the disaster.
Nearly a century after the April 15, 1912, sinking of the ocean liner that hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic, a New York City auction is being readied by Guernsey's Auctioneers and Brokers.
Premier Exhibitions has been displaying the Titanic artifacts in exhibitions worldwide, including a 1997 show at the now-defunct Florida International Museum in St. Petersburg. The exhibit drew more than 1 million visitors.
On April 11, all of the salvaged items are to be sold as one lot in what Guernsey's president Arlan Ettinger describes as the most significant auction ever handled by that house.
"Who on this planet doesn't know the story of the Titanic and isn't fascinated by it?" he asked. "Could Hollywood have scripted a more tragic or goose bump-raising story than what actually happened on that ship?"
The auction will be conducted 100 years plus a day after the Titanic set sail from Southampton, England, embarking on the ill-fated first voyage that had New York as its destination.
The collection was appraised in 2007 at $189 million, including some intellectual property alongside the myriad items plucked by remote-controlled probes from the pitch-black depths, some 2 ½ miles below the ocean's surface.
By court order, the items cannot be sold individually and must go to a buyer who agrees to properly maintain the collection and make it available for occasional public viewing. The sale is subject to court approval.
RMS Titanic Inc., which has overseen the artifacts for 18 years, said the public company decided to auction the collection in response to shareholders' wishes that the "company go out and make money."