New Titanic Treaty

Jon Hollis

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Jan 23, 2004
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Fellow Members IF again IF you do not see any more photos from me or documentation Etc. Etc.Etc. The next post of mine should give you some insight and you may thank a certain party for starting this smudgepot
Jon
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I've been away for a few days, but to me any treaty that attempts to place restrictions on what can and can not be done with a shipwreck that is not in American territorial waters, and which is not a warship etc. is not the business of the Federal government. <<

Well Eric, you may well be right. If there's a legal challange to the treaty, we'll know.

Jon, please read and heed the e-mail I'm sending your way.
 

Scott Newman

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Jun 16, 2004
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Bill,

I will respect and honor your opinion. I am new to the site so I am not familiar with all of the participants. As a member of the 1998 expedition, I am more than happy to call you an expert on this particular matter.

I must also, however, respect each individual explorer/oceanographer for the work they have done on Titanic. While I don't agree with MANY of the ideas and things Ballard has said and tried to accomplish, I refuse to hop on the "Ballard Bashing" that takes place from time to time. He's not all bad. I realize he's paid by the tax payers, but he does give back to the government. He's visiting schools, teaching, and attempting to do what he feels is right...as odd as his reasons seem...

As for RMSTI, my point was not to say that they CAN sell artifacts as they please, but was to say that they TRIED to sell artifacts. As interesting as some of these exhibits are, try to find a ticket for less than $15...I couldn't even get my parking validated.

I honestly believed Tulloch when he said that these artifacts were "not ours, they're just a voice" but even he was voted out of the company.

It's really late and I'm sorry if this letter takes the offensive. I don't even have any facts to back up my opinions. I just had a few thoughts on this matter that I wanted to share. We should all offer our honest opinions as long as they are not personal attacks...that's what I like about the site!
 

Bill Willard

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Mar 24, 2001
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Scott, your letter was not offensive in the least. You stated well your points. I also did not intend to be offensive in my post, nor did I intend to single any one person's postings out.

I respect Ballard for his accomplishments, but cringe beyond that. Everyone who "praises" Ballard will always disagree with those who "bash" him. It's because he changed positions, and he, like RMSTI, uses Titanic to his advantage. The bashers see him as hypocritical.

I am surprised the exhibits only cost $20 or less to be honest. If you went to see the King Tut exhibit in some venues, the tickets were in the $40-$50 range. For something as grand as Titanic, $15-$20 is not a bad price range. For the record, and this is based on general terms, not contractual specifics, the venue and the exhibition organizer (SFX, Clear Channel) would split the revenues. The exhibition equipment, advertising, installation, deinstallation, transportation, insurance, and other necessary expenses come from designated sides (the venue pays some, SFX/Clear Channel paid some). From these net amounts, RMSTI would receive a set payment each year from SFX/Clear Channel. From this payment, recently in the $2-$2.5 million range (per year, for as many as four exhibits during that year), RMSTI has to conserve the artifacts, pay salaries, plan expeditions, and other things. They also have legal fees that are quite high. RMSTI is requirted to make periodic reports to the Norfolk Court approximately every six months, and sometimes those reports are quite lengthy and must be presented with counsel in the Judge's Coutroom. So, RMSTI isn't bathing in a treasure bath (to steal a Mel Brooks line).

RMSTI appealed to the Supreme Court to have control of the artifacts without the Norfolk court's jurisdiction (? maybe an incorrect word here) over them, but the Supreme Court didn't hear the case. The artifacts should be put in a permanent home and current management doesn't see that as an option for the company to pursue themselves at this point. So they will have to convey the artifacts at some time to some entity who CAN take care of the artifacts and keep them on public display. That would have to involve a sale - a court approved sale. But, in no way will the Norfolk court allow a public sale of Titanic souvenirs. I don't think we will ever see that happening.

Again, your post wasn't offensive at all to me and I hope you'll accept my apology if mine was.

Bill
 

Scott Newman

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Jun 16, 2004
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Bill,

Excellent points and your post was not offensive either. IF you were to ask me a question concerning the Titanic a year ago I would have only been able to tell you that Jack dies at the end. It's only been in the last year that I have really focused in on the "facts". I enjoyed your post, to be quite honest, but I just wanted to share a few thoughts that I had. You did a nice job responding to those concerns. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it keeps the biases from both sides honest.

This whole debate between the explorers reminds me of a Republicans vs. Democrats debate. Each side has shortcomings but they spend so much time finger pointing that they refuse to look in the mirror.

Bill, you touched a little bit on the idea of Ballard inviting Tulloch on one of his expeditions, which we both know never happened. I had a thought along these same lines a few weeks ago. What kind of work could these expedition teams do if they all put aside their egos and worked together on an expedition? How would that be? Of course it won't happen...but I think we would see more secrets about the Titanic than we can only dream about now.
 
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William Barr

Guest
" I am apalled by the people, including Ballard, who believe the artifacts should go back down to the ocean floor. That's destructive, and eliminates future generations from seeing these pieces as they were recovered. I don't buy the bull story that "we don't need to recover more artifacts, it just happened recently... It's not as if Titanic sank hundreds of years ago". Well friends, my great-great, etc., grandchildren WILL say that the Titanic sank hundreds of years ago. Then they'll ask why more things weren't brought up. Are we so busy stating what WE want here that we fail to think "long term" or "future generations"? "

That's a very interesting point. I'll raise one along different lines. How come no one bothered to find out what the generation that lived with this would have wanted when Titanic Ventures/RMSTI starting raising items in 1987?

It was not in the name of future generations, it was about making money for people who declared themselves the guardian of this ship who had no more right to it than anyone on this message board.

It was very nice that some of the survivors had items returned to them. I wonder if they wanted them taken from the grave site of their relatives or what the families of these people today would prefer for the ships future?

No one stopped to ask.

The questions will continue about what RMSTI will be allowed to do with it's collection.

James Cameron's movie proved Titanic can be basically recreated for future generations without anything brought up.

Somewhere maybe what WE want is not as important.

I'm just not sure if it's time to look back before looking ahead.
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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"How come no one bothered to find out what the generation that lived with this would have wanted when Titanic Ventures/RMSTI starting raising items in 1987?"

Sentiment was split, though it was the anti-salvor side that shamefully attempted to paint a false picture of survivor sentiment being unanimous on their side and this led to some shabby disregard for those who praised the recovery of artifacts. The division of opinion on this matter only demonstrated to me that using survivor sentiment could not serve as the be-all, end-all justification for or against salvage.

"It was not in the name of future generations, it was about making money."

If the motive was about "making money" then the artifacts would have been put up on the auction block the day after they were recovered. I think that is a bogus argument.

"James Cameron's movie proved Titanic can be basically recreated for future generations without anything brought up."

And I say baloney to that. The idea that fake recreations from what I felt was a bad movie (but that's another thread) will never compare to the awe I felt when after 20 years of Titanic study I saw things from the actual ship for the first time with my own eyes. I think the idea that bad Hollywood movies should be our legacy to future generations about history is laughable.
 
Jul 11, 2001
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Profit for motive? I believe that Mr.Tulloch specifically stated that these Titanic artifacts were never going to be put up for sale or auction.

Considering the high cost of the recovery and restoration, the price of admission to see these artifacts must barely pay anything.

Artifacts belong in museums, not on the ocean floor where only the rich can afford to go see them, or by people like Ballard to video tape and show us 4 minutes of it during an hour show.

Besides, I have seen the National Geographic Magazine with articles and photos of personal artifacts recovered from General Custers last stand! How is that different? Is a skull plate with a hole from an arrow considered less personal than a piece of Spode China from the Titanic?
 

Scott Newman

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Jun 16, 2004
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The comments over the last few days have prompted me to add a few words of my own. I have an enormous respect for all of the thoughts that have been shared to this point.

We tend to look at the Titanic and the controversies surrounding the expeditions from a context of "what so-and-so didn't do" or "what this group is doing wrong". I try to be as objective as possible when I study the Titanic, as I have no affiliation with any particular group.

Eric, we like to use the term "laughable" when we don't agree with somebody's comment. (It's not just you). I'd like to use this term as an example. I'm known as a Titanic "geek" to my friends. I've only been studying the facts of the Titanic for the last year, but my friends think I'm obsessed with the wreck. This is "laughable" for them.

Ken Marschall has referred to himself as a rivet counter. This is laughable for many people who consider the Titanic as nothing more than an obsession...but who has the last laugh when one of Ken's paintings are sold?

The idea that James Cameron's movie as the Titanic Legacy may indeed by laughable but it's success as a money maker can not be argued. It's success propelled the design of two ROV's that could travel inside the wreck and film areas of the ship that had never before been seen.

I do not have the facts in front of me, but what of the sales of RMSTI before and after the movie was released? My guess would be that the real money maker for RMS Titanic Inc. would be the gift shop, where you can find many fine replicas of dishes, posters, games....and you guessed it..."the heart of the ocean".

I approve of salvage because, like many of you, I am fascinated by the actual ship and it's contents. However, we must respect the wishes of those survivors who wished the wreck to be left alone. I don't believe Eva Hart criticized salvaging the wreck of "the Titanic" but the wreck of her father's grave. We must be sensitive to those wishes when choosing which items to salvage. Is there a book or transcript that tells us what each survivor's feelings were toward salvaging artifacts? If we can't use survivor sentiment as an "end-all justification" then what measurement shall we use?

Finally, RMSTI is listed as a FOR PROFIT organization...and they DID try to sell artifacts a few years ago and the judge stopped the sale from happening. The reasons for the attempted sale are up for debate...but let's not say that "it's not about making money". Whether you're Ballard, Cameron, or those involved in RMSTI, it's about making money.

I've been working on this message in between work so I'm sorry if my thoughts are incomplete or scattered. Again, I appreciate your commentary. I'd like to hear more from those of you who have studied the wreck for so many years.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>James Cameron's movie proved Titanic can be basically recreated for future generations without anything brought up.<<

I suspect that Rose DeWitless Bucolic just might say "Horsehockley!" to that one.
wink.gif
.

Seriously, I have to agree with Eric's points on this even if we don't quite see eye to eye on the quality of the film itself. Good, bad, or indifferent, it was and remains entertainment aimed at a 1990's era audience and spoke to 1990's attitudes. While the sets were well done even if not always accurate, there was hardly anything about it which can be called a faithful re-creation of 1912. It certainly isn't history.

In fairness to James Cameron, I don't think he had a lot of wiggle room on this as he had an obligation to the backers of the production to offer a product that would turn a profit for the investors, and he did so at quite a risk to his career. If this very expensive production had bombed, he would have been laughed right out of Tinseltown never to work again. He certainly would never have been able to make Ghosts of the Abyss which stands head and shoulders above the rest as the most thorough internal survey of the wreck done by anyone.
 

Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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With regard to the gift shop making revenue for RMSTI, if the Science Museum shop was any indication, then it hardly ever reached its sale prediction of several thousand pounds per day, and this was despite its large range of good quality products (books, DVDs, prints) and tat (yes, "The Heart of the Ocean"!)

Cheers

Paul
--
http://www.paullee.com
 
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William Barr

Guest
" If the motive was about "making money" then the artifacts would have been put up on the auction block the day after they were recovered. I think that is a bogus argument."

Mr Paddon, from day one this was described as an
" exciting business venture. "

The history from Joslyn's sad show to coal/boxer shorts/diving for diamonds ect has been well documented over the years. It also paid for some positive things that were done, all of them which had nothing to do with salvage.

" The idea that fake recreations from what I felt was a bad movie (but that's another thread) will never compare to the awe I felt when after 20 years of Titanic study I saw things from the actual ship for the first time with my own eyes."

It all depends on your perspective, I guess.

Titanic to me will never be about I or ME, but them as in the folks who lived with this and their relatives today and beyond who will always live with this. I'm nobody in this so for me recreations (some even from the same companies that built Titanic) are good enough.

And all of us can always see these things on the ocean floor.
 
Jul 11, 2001
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quote:

And all of us can always see these things on the ocean floor.
Oh really? I cannot afford a submarine. And with Ballards' treaty, he will not allow me to go down to visit the ship even if I had one!
lame.gif
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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"Mr Paddon, from day one this was described as an
" exciting business venture.""

And from day one the pledge was not to sell artifacts recovered, but to make them available to the people to see, for which they came through and delivered.

"It also paid for some positive things that were done, all of them which had nothing to do with salvage."

Bull. The positive thing that came out was that it gave people like me a chance to see the Titanic in a way I'd never seen before, and to above all connect with the ship in a way I'd never done before. And thousands, if not millions of others who had a chance to see these artifacts and be touched by them in a restored setting that can be enjoyed by future generations, came away feeling the same. The emotional reaction I felt upon seeing these artifacts with my own eyes is nonexistent whenever I see murky underwater photos and video of the kind that Ballard believes should be our sole legacy.

"And all of us can always see these things on the ocean floor."

Yeah, if I have a million dollars to put my life at risk in a cramped submersible, I might be able to catch a fleeting glimpse of something that will soon rot and no longer be there. No thank you.
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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Scott, my use of the term "laughable" in that context applied to something that goes beyond Titanic. I do not think filmed recreations should be our substitute for preservation of actual historic artifacts in any context, especially if the movie doesn't have much else going for it. To me, saying Cameron's movie should be a preferred legacy to actual artifacts would be like saying we should demolish the Texas School Book Depository and just watch "JFK" (a movie that is also great in technical recreations but is filth as history) instead, or if you prefer another analogy, why bother going to the Arizona memorial when you can just watch "Pearl Harbor"?
 

Scott Newman

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Jun 16, 2004
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Eric, as I stated before I agree with you...Titanic as a movie is exactly that...a very silly movie. BUT unlike "Pearl Harbor" or "JFK", this movie propelled the entire world into this "obsession" that has helped increase sales and interest in the very topic that you feel is so important. This website would probably not exist as it is now had the movie not been released. I recently visited the Salt Lake Exhibit and I heard more references to the movie than the actual events that took place. Like it or not, the movie is keeping Titanic interest alive for many people.
 

Bill Willard

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Mar 24, 2001
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Scott, I also want to correct a statement you made earlier, so that you nor other readers have any misconceptions.

"Finally, RMSTI is listed as a FOR PROFIT organization...and they DID try to sell artifacts a few years ago and the judge stopped the sale from happening."

This is not true. As Gavin can attest, along with many of us who have been in these courtrooms, RMST asked the court for the right to sell the artifacts without the approval of the judges in Norfolk. After being denied in Nofolk, the ruling was appealed to Richmond, who did in fact support the ruling of Norfolk. RMST went one step further and appealed to the Supreme Court, but they did not hear the case, thusly confirming the appelate and Norfolk rulings.

The wording of your statement makes it appear as if RMST started a sale, and it was blocked by the court. I have no knowledge that this was even close to happening, both as a Titanic enthusiast and as a shareholder of RMST.

It may be an issue of semantics, but it still is an important perception that should be cleared.

This thread is now changing into the "should we salvage or not?" thread.

Some of you are begrudging investors for trying to get money from their investment. That's strange. I know several people who orginally invested in TVLP, RMSTI's predecessor, who have not received dime one from their investment in over 15 years.

William, please name me one person involved in Titanic since 1985 who hasn't made money off it. Authors, photographers, artists, scientists, exhibition people, merchandise vendors, television companies, IFREMER, the Russians, yes - salvagers, and even Ballard have made money - no, lots of money - off Titanic. Why stop at criticism of the salvagers? Now, before anyone thinks I'm attempting to be critical of any of the groups mentioned above, please understand I'm not being critical. Without each of those groups above, part of this production is incomplete. It's just that some attack the salvagers (basically RMST) and can't see beyond at a larger scope.

Eric, your points are well stated and strongly echoed. When "everyone" can afford to dive to Titanic, then "everyone" can experience and see this wreck as Ballard does. Any rich benefactors want to sponsor me with $35,000 for a dive? LOL!!
 

Scott Newman

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Jun 16, 2004
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Bill, points well taken and I guess I need to rephrase. I understand that RMSTI has not successfully "sold" artifacts and in that respect they have not made a profit. I was speaking from a technical viewpoint. RMSTI profits come from merchandise and ticket sales, which are both taxable and considered profit. Allow me to quote from the Reuters Abridged Business Summary of RMS Titanic Inc:

"RMS Titanic, Inc. has obtained oceanic material and scientific data available in various forms that include still and moving photography and artifacts from the Titanic wreck site and is utilizing this data and artifacts for historical verification, scientific education and public awareness. All these activities are directed toward producing income for the Company resulting from touring exhibitions, television programs and the sale of still photographs. RMS was formed for the purpose of exploring the wreck and surrounding oceanic areas of the Titanic, which sank in 1912, and lies more than 12,500 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean." http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=SOST.OB

This has definitely become a "count-counterpoint" thread. I find it interesting indeed how strong your opinions are. Each of you have taken your side and I applaud that. The last thing we need are more fence sitters. From my amateur viewpoint, however, some of the comments from both parties have definitely shown bias. I would personally like to see more actual references in the future when quoting events and statements...(yes yes, including myself...I've been corrected a few times already!)

This site is obviously here for us to form opinions...there is no other "Titanic" forum like this. The best way to communicate the facts is to read them! Many of you have, and I appreciate your commitment to the factual preservation of the Titanic.