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Titanic Guardians in Court to Stop Artifact Sale

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Titanic’s keepers are battening down the hatches for a court battle to prevent four artifacts recovered from the wreck site from being auctioned off.

A British gold coin, two US banknotes and a block of coal salvaged decades ago from the wreckage of the doomed liner have mistakenly fallen into the hands of a company trying to auction them off, RMS claims Titanic Inc., owner of the salvage rights to the ship, is suing to stop the auction.

RMS Titanic is the ‘steward and custodian’ of the wreck and claims in Manhattan Supreme Court papers that one of its former executives, G. Michael Harris, took the artifacts, which were later sold to Mobile Grocers of America Inc. when Harris later filed for bankruptcy.

Harris claimed the four items were gifted to him by fellow Titanic executive George Tulloch, whom he frequently clashed with, the group charges in court papers.

RMS Titanic maintains that Tulloch had no right to give the artifacts to anyone.

RMS Titanic Inc. claims former executive G. Michael Harris sold four artifacts to Mobile Grocers of America Inc.
Photo by Alay

The coin and paper money were recovered during a 1987 expedition to the wreck site in the North Atlantic, and the piece of coal was recovered during a dive in 1994, according to the legal file. .

A preview from auction house UES Guernsey’s trumpeted that the items – billed as ‘Titanic’s Four Treasures Saga’ – will be part of an online sale in ‘late spring 2022’.

Guernsey agreed to suspend the auction after lawyers for RMS Titanic Inc contacted, according to court documents.

The five-dollar bill recovered from the RMS Titanic is highly prized by collectors because it was the last horse-blanket-sized bills issued for mint.
The five-dollar bill recovered from the RMS Titanic is highly prized by collectors because it was the last horse-blanket-sized bills issued for mint.
Guernsey Auction House
A 1907 five dollar bill shows President Andrew Jackson.
A 1907 five dollar bill shows President Andrew Jackson.
Guernsey Auction House

“We await the outcome of this legal action,” Guernsey President Arlan Ettinger told The Post this week.

RMS Titanic wants a judge to declare him the rightful owner of the artifacts and wants them returned.

The Titanic sank off Newfoundland in the North Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg on April 15, 1912. The wreckage was discovered on September 1, 1985 at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, some 13,400 feet below the water.

A gold sovereign coin of King George V of Great Britain was recovered from the RMS Titanic in 1987.
A gold sovereign coin of King George V of Great Britain was recovered from the RMS Titanic in 1987.
Guernsey Auction House
An unused eight-pound piece of coal to power the RMS Titanic.
An eight-pound piece of coal was not used to power the RMS Titanic.
Guernsey Auction House

Seven expeditions to the wreck site – in 1987, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2004 – recovered more than 5,000 artifacts, according to the suit.

Neither RMS Titanic’s attorneys nor defendant Mobile Grocers of America LLC returned a message.