Looting the wreck...?

Steven Christian

Steven Christian

Member
I guess this is the right spot for this. I recently read an article about the galleon San Jose. And like most shipwreck articles eventually they will get compared to Titanic somehow. In the article it says that Titanic's wreck site has been plundered illegally of thousands of artifacts that are now on the black market. Does anybody know if that's true? I can see some but "thousands". I'll post the quote from the article which is at the end in case anyone doesn't want to read it. I thought over all it was an interesting article. Cheers.

"The Titanic lies more than two miles deep—almost five times deeper than the San José—yet thousands of its artifacts have been pillaged and sold on the black market since the wreck was discovered in 1985."

 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
There have been rumours of a couple of rogue expedition's to the Titanic's wreck done during the nineties. However, I don't know for certain.

Off the coasts of Indonesia and Malaysia, there are dozens of American, Australian, British, Dutch and Japanese warships wrecks from WW2 that have been and still are being cut up on the seabed for scrap metal.
 
Steven Christian

Steven Christian

Member
There have been rumours of a couple of rogue expedition's to the Titanic's wreck done during the nineties. However, I don't know for certain.

Off the coasts of Indonesia and Malaysia, there are dozens of American, Australian, British, Dutch and Japanese warships wrecks from WW2 that have been and still are being cut up on the seabed for scrap metal.
Yes. I was just wondering about the numbers. If there are thousands of artifacts one would think somebody would have got busted by now. Or maybe nobody cares or they have bigger fish to fry. I've seen before and after pics of some the WW2 wrecks. Some have almost completely disappeared. Must be the pre-atomic steel they'er after. Unless scrap metal goes for more than it does here. Hardly worth anything in my neck of the woods. Cheers.
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
I'm not 100% sure about this and am happy to be corrected but I think "RMS Titanic Inc" who own the wreck went back on their initial promise never to sell artefacts and sold tons of stuff at auction. This may have wrongly given people the idea that there were thousands of illegal artefacts about.

I think this was after the death of the company co-founder George Tulloch who had been opposed to such a move. That said, I'm not completely sure about this and may be wrong. Someone else on ET will know I'm sure.

Aye, on the WW2 wrecks the USS Houston, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Repulse and HMAS Perth in particular have all been mauled by illegal salvagers in recent years I gather.
 
Steven Christian

Steven Christian

Member
I'm not 100% sure about this and am happy to be corrected but I think "RMS Titanic Inc" who own the wreck went back on their initial promise never to sell artefacts and sold tons of stuff at auction. This may have wrongly given people the idea that there were thousands of illegal artefacts about.

I think this was after the death of the company co-founder George Tulloch who had been opposed to such a move. That said, I'm not completely sure about this and may be wrong. Someone else on ET will know I'm sure.

Aye, on the WW2 wrecks the USS Houston, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Repulse and HMAS Perth in particular have all been mauled by illegal salvagers in recent years I gather.
I knew it was going a lot in the south pacific but I guess it's not limited to just that area according to the article below. Seems the Netherlands has a problem with their own illegal salvagers. Not a fan of The Guardian but sometimes they have interesting articles.
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
I knew it was going a lot in the south pacific but I guess it's not limited to just that area according to the article below. Seems the Netherlands has a problem with their own illegal salvagers. Not a fan of The Guardian but sometimes they have interesting articles.
There's a small Titanic link there with also one incredible coincidence.

In that article, they mention that wrecks from the Battle of Jutland have been subject to illegal salvaging.

One of those is HMS Queen Mary, her huge copper condensers were illegally salvaged several years back.

Serving aboard her were three of the firemen from the Titanic's Belfast to Southampton delivery trip. All three were killed when she exploded during the battle.



 
Jason D. Tiller

Jason D. Tiller

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There have been rumours of a couple of rogue expedition's to the Titanic's wreck done during the nineties.
The only reported rogue expedition to the wrecksite was conducted in the summer of 2004, led by Dik Barton. Any artifacts that ended up on the black market, were likely as a result of said expedition.

I'm not 100% sure about this and am happy to be corrected but I think "RMS Titanic Inc" who own the wreck went back on their initial promise never to sell artefacts and sold tons of stuff at auction
RMS Titanic Inc., now a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions had been trying to sell off the artifacts since 2001, due to their financial issues and fear of going bankrupt, which eventually happened. But due to restrictions imposed by the judge for the artifacts not to be sold as piecemeal, they were continuously denied. However as of October 2018, the 5,500 artifacts valued at $218 million by RMSTI were sold to a hedge fund who purchased them for $19.5 million.

 
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Steven Christian

Steven Christian

Member
There's a small Titanic link there with also one incredible coincidence.

In that article, they mention that wrecks from the Battle of Jutland have been subject to illegal salvaging.

One of those is HMS Queen Mary, her huge copper condensers were illegally salvaged several years back.

Serving aboard her were three of the firemen from the Titanic's Belfast to Southampton delivery trip. All three were killed when she exploded during the battle.



Interesting. I could see where they went after the copper. It's the one scrap metal that people seem to make money with. I could tell you some gruesome stories about copper thieves here that happened with my company but would be going too far off topic. In a nut shell though if your going to steal copper make sure the power is turned off...LOL. It seems like so many that were somehow connected to Titanic didn't survive the war. But given how big the war was I guess that's not out of the norm. Cheers.
 
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Seumas

Seumas

Member
The only reported rogue expedition to the wrecksite was conducted in the summer of 2004, led by Dik Barton. Any artifacts that ended up on the black market, were likely as a result of said expedition.


RMS Titanic Inc., now a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions had been trying to sell off the artifacts since 2001, due to their financial issues and fear of going bankrupt, which eventually happened. But due to restrictions imposed by the judge for the artifacts not to be sold as piecemeal, they were continuously denied. However as of October 2018, the 5,500 artifacts valued at $218 million by RMSTI were sold to a hedge fund who purchased them for $19.5 million.

Thanks for clearing that up Jason. This is the information we need.

That is really depressing that happened to so many pieces of history. :(

I do vaguely recall reading an old post basically describing the late George Tulloch as a nice man who meant well but who was also hopelessly naive as a businessman. Harsh or a fair comment in your opinion ?

I've never read a single good word about a certain Mr Geller but I won't go any further than that.
 
Jason D. Tiller

Jason D. Tiller

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Thanks for clearing that up Jason. This is the information we need.
You're welcome Seumas, glad to help.

There is some good news to come out of the sale of the artifacts: The group that purchased them reports to the same Admiralty Court, they want to exhibit as many artifacts as possible and the current CEO has integrity. The previous ones only cared about the money.

I do vaguely recall reading an old post basically describing the late George Tulloch as a nice man who meant well but who was also hopelessly naive as a businessman. Harsh or a fair comment in your opinion ?
I think it is harsh. George had a passion for Titanic and her story, he could tell it to anyone who was interested and sold the idea to many people (he did this for me) that what he was doing was right, and it was. I don't want to speak ill of him, as he was indirectly responsible for me being able to live my dream which was being able to work at and co-run a Titanic Artifact Exhibition. I was working at the exhibition, when George was ousted from RMSTI and it was a big shock. I miss George very much to this day; there will never be another man like him who was so passionate, who cared deeply about the artifacts and preserving them, and telling their stories.

I've never read a single good word about a certain Mr Geller but I won't go any further than that.
Neither have I.
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Thanks Jason.

I didn't know that you actually knew the late Mr Tulloch personally ! It's good to know he was a decent bloke.

Btw were you ever involved with the Titanic exhibit in Orlando during the late nineties ? There was a wee something I always wanted to find out about that, but it's too long to post here.

The Discovery Channel documentaries they made in the nineties (I'm sure you know the ones I mean) are where I'm more familiar with Tulloch, he popped up in a few of them.

I was hesitant to post anything negative about Arnie Geller because I had read he was notoriously litigious when it came to criticism, but I read just a couple of minutes ago that he died back in 2019 which I did not know.
 
Jason D. Tiller

Jason D. Tiller

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I didn't know that you actually knew the late Mr Tulloch personally ! It's good to know he was a decent bloke.
He really was. Very down to earth and the type of guy who you could easily strike up a conversation with; George always had a story to tell.

Btw were you ever involved with the Titanic exhibit in Orlando during the late nineties ?
No I wasn't. I started working at the exhibition in Sept 1999. I've always wanted to see the Orlando exhibit though.

The Discovery Channel documentaries they made in the nineties (I'm sure you know the ones I mean) are where I'm more familiar with Tulloch, he popped up in a few of them.
Yes I know exactly the ones, as that is where I first got to know George. A few of them are in my collection.

I was not aware that Arnie Geller had passed away. Thanks for letting me know.
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Jason, just out of interest.

What path did RMSTI take that led to it's financial disaster ? Did nobody try and arrest the companies decline, or was it out of control and nothing could prevent disaster ?

How exactly was Tulloch ousted from RMSTI and why ? Was it a pre-planned "fix" by certain persons ?

From what I've read about the now late Mr Geller, he's been described as having been quite charming in person, but behind closed doors was a real nasty piece of work. That's just what I've read,
 
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Jason D. Tiller

Jason D. Tiller

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Moderator
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What path did RMSTI take that led to it's financial disaster ?
The company went bankrupt because of some bad business decisions in NY. The company ended up owing approximately $20 million on those bad deals. Bill Willard was a shareholder and knows the story in more detail.

How exactly was Tulloch ousted from RMSTI and why ? Was it a pre-planned "fix" by certain persons ?
George Tulloch and the company's attorney where ousted due to a hostile takeover, by G. Michael Harris and Arnie Gellar. They simply wanted to sell the artifacts. Gellar was installed as President and Harris was made CEO and Secretary of the company. They fired all the other officers and directors, and were therefore the only two remaining directors. George later sued and was awarded $2.5 million in damages.

From what I've read about the now late Mr Geller, he's been described as having been quite charming in person, but behind closed doors was a real nasty piece of work.
Your information matches mine.
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Thanks Jason.

That is rather depressing reading.

There was a Mike Harris who was involved with Jack Grimm's expeditions to discover the wreck. Is this Harris the same bloke who was involved with the hostile takeover or just a co-incidence ?

I'm glad that George Tulloch did at least manage to hit back and land one on them.

Something I just remembered from one of those Discovery docs was that Tulloch took his son along on one or two expeditions to the wreck. He'll be a grown man now of course, but it must have been very tough to lose his Dad at such a young age.
 
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