Pirates at the Wreck

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Patrick Christophe Morrissey-D'amore

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> When it comes to salvaging artifacts from the Titanic, the end justifies > the means. I'd rather people salvage illegally now than salvage legally > after years of red tape and litigation. Unfortunately, there just isn't > that much time left.

Patrick D.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>> When it comes to salvaging artifacts from the Titanic, the end justifies > the means.<<

Well, you're entitled to that opinion, but don't hold your hopes up that a lot of people will agree with that, even in the pro-salvage camp. The artifacts have to be handled with extreme care and properly conserved by people who actually know what they're doing, and this isn't the sort of thing you're likely to see happen with an illegal operation.

Nor are you likely to see any of these artifacts ending up in a museum where they could be appropriately displayed and properly cared for. Museums aren't keen on buying stolen goods and for good reason. Knowingly doing so would leave them wide open for all kinds of civil and criminal sanctions. (And they would have to know in order to establish a valid provinance for the artifact.)

In light of that, I would opine that the ends do not justify the means.
 
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Patrick Christophe Morrissey-D'amore

Guest
> Actually a great many Titanic enthusiasts have agreed with me on the subject of "illegal" salvage. Well, at least those in the Poughkeepsie, Westchester and Manhattan areas of New York State, nor have I come across another Titanica member who strongly opposes illegal salvaging, if that's even what we should be labeling it. As to the question of the operation possessing skilled conservators, I would "opine" it's a pretty safe bet they'd have at least one considering they've spent a few million dollars to descend two miles to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and retrieve artifacts all in the salvaging arena know would disintegrate after sudden exposure to both air and light. Not having a conservator on this expedition would be rather like me buying a new Mercedes and then purposely crashing it into the nearest Oak tree. That would just be silly.

Museums may not be too keen on buying stolen artifacts, but when one thinks about it aren't most treasures, relics from ancient tombs or precious gems, housed in museums of circumspect origin? Again, this becomes more of a legal question than an ethical one. Unfortunately I chose to get an MBA instead of going to law school, so when it comes down to the legalities here, I have not a clue. But you are right when it comes to provenance, a valid rock-solid one does need to be set for retrieved artifacts. Still hasn't happened though.

However, I would like to believe that whomever financed and conducted this operation has done so with the best of intentions. For the reasons mentioned above I think it unlikely they salvaged for personal gain. Like you wrote, the artifacts are too hard to maintain and preserve in private settings, and I have a hunch that anyone considering paying 40K for a wine glass, no matter how diehard of an enthusiast he is, would know this and think twice at the auction block.

As it is now, I'll stand by my opinion until I'm incontrovertibly proven wrong through tangible evidence, as most people would.

Patrick D.
 

Adam Leet

Member
May 18, 2001
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"Actually a great many Titanic enthusiasts have agreed with me on the subject of "illegal" salvage. Well, at least those in the Poughkeepsie, Westchester and Manhattan areas of New York State, nor have I come across another Titanica member who strongly opposes illegal salvaging, if that's even what we should be labeling it."

Count me in as one of the members who opposes it.

"Museums may not be too keen on buying stolen artifacts, but when one thinks about it aren't most treasures, relics from ancient tombs or precious gems, housed in museums of circumspect origin?"

This doesn't further the argument that illegal salvage operations should be continued on the Titanic. As Mr. Standart has already explained, it is highly unlikely the artifacts that were lifted illegally from the wrecksite will find their way to legitimate museums, and I would also suspect that they will not be properly taken care of.

"Again, this becomes more of a legal question than an ethical one."

How is it ethically permissible to violate international law and take objects that do not belong to you, for what will likely become part of a private collection?


Adam
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
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quote:

Well, at least those in the Poughkeepsie, Westchester and Manhattan areas of New York State, nor have I come across another Titanica member who strongly opposes illegal salvaging, if that's even what we should be labeling it.
Phew - if we're going by anecdotal evidence, I've yet to meet anyone in the Titanic circles I frequent who is in favour of covert salvage operations (present company excepted, of course
happy.gif
)

As for having the best of intentions, I regard that as by no means a certainty. If it turns out that this group, engaging in illegal practices, turns out to be operating on the premise that the wreck represents a great 'business opportunity' they wouldn't be the first or the last to attempt commercial exploitation of this human tragedy in whatever form (either salvage or other means).

I am distinctly uneasy with the idea of condoning this covert operation with an expression of faith that those engaging in it believe they're operating for a greater good. Whilst RMT Inc's practices have been questioned and occasionally shrouded from public scrutiny, at least there was some accountability (if only through public opinion and pressure). This other group have been subjected to no monitoring at all as to the ways and means they have gone about their actions on the wreck.

I also think there's a remarkable arrogance to a group that would presume to flout and legal processes because they 'know best' about what should be done on the site.

Many museums have collections relying at least in part on questionable practices in acquiring artifacts in the past (Elgin Marbles...many Australian museums' collections of objects associated with indigneous peoples...). However, internationally reputable museums now have a very strict code regarding acquisition practices - I've discussed it at some length over here with even comparatively small local museums when working on exhibitions and with collections. Mike's point about the unliklihood of artifacts being acquired by the means this group have employed being accessible to the public make a good deal of sense to me.​
 
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Jonathan Craig Adcock

Guest
>Amen. If Rms is not opulant enough to do it themselves.
 
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Jonathan Craig Adcock

Guest
>If RMS is not opulant enough, and will not relinquish rights, someone must >do it. You do understand that the Wreck is not impervious to the elements >in which it is subject to. The water Ph at that location is about 4. Like >your stomach acids. If calculations are correct, we are looking at maybe 5 >more years before it's own weight crushes itself. Then what are you going >to argue with folks about?
 
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Jonathan Craig Adcock

Guest
>Let's call it initiative. If RMT is not opulent enough to do it, (and >within a few years, according the the waters Ph level(which is 4....like >stomach acids)and the deterioration of the wreck since 85, we only have >maybe 5 years before the weight of the wreck crushes itself.)Let someone >who is.
 

Adam Leet

Member
May 18, 2001
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"Let's call it initiative. If RMT is not opulent enough to do it, (and >within a few years, according the the waters Ph level(which is 4....like >stomach acids)and the deterioration of the wreck since 85, we only have >maybe 5 years before the weight of the wreck crushes itself.)Let someone >who is."

I'm curious as to why you keep bringing up the PH issue. As for the danger of the wreck collapsing, that is a certainty. However, all of the artifacts that have been retrieved thus far came from the debris field. No effort has been made (and any argument for has been rebuffed) to recover items from within the major sections of the ship herself.

At any rate, to attempt to do so would likely cause more damage which you claim you are concerned about. I have already heard of advocates for use of explosives to open the hull.

I do have one question for you, Jonathan. Would you happen to have a vested interest in the recent illegal salvage operation?


Adam
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Actually a great many Titanic enthusiasts have agreed with me on the subject of "illegal" salvage. <<

Which would make it right...how? Just because a majority (Real or imagined) favours something does not make it a good idea.

>>Museums may not be too keen on buying stolen artifacts, but when one thinks about it aren't most treasures, relics from ancient tombs or precious gems, housed in museums of circumspect origin? <<

And the alleged crimes of the past justifies criminal action in the present...how??? (Hint:Two wrongs don't make a right!)

>>As to the question of the operation possessing skilled conservators, I would "opine" it's a pretty safe bet they'd have at least one considering they've spent a few million dollars to descend two miles to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and retrieve artifacts all in the salvaging arena know would disintegrate after sudden exposure to both air and light.<<

I wouldn't make that assumption. For a pirate expedition with entirely mercenary goals, the artifacts don't have to last forever, just long enough for them to get their money and run.

>>But you are right when it comes to provenance, a valid rock-solid one does need to be set for retrieved artifacts. Still hasn't happened though.<<

Actually with RMSTI, it has. They know where they got the artifacts and since they want to protect their investment, you can bet that their inventory is pretty well documented.

>>However, I would like to believe that whomever financed and conducted this operation has done so with the best of intentions. For the reasons mentioned above I think it unlikely they salvaged for personal gain.<<

Why would you make that assumption for an illegal operation where the idea is to make thier money without getting caught? Making their profit without ending up in jail would be their first concern. Anything else is secondary if considered at all.
 
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Patrick Christophe Morrissey-D'amore

Guest
> "Phew - if we're going by anecdotal evidence, I've yet to meet anyone > in the Titanic circles I frequent who is in favour of covert salvage > operations (present company excepted, of course
happy.gif
)"

Wonderful! Where do you live? I'm always keen on hearing the dissenting point of view. I just hadn't found it until now. I am so relieved!

"As for having the best of intentions, I regard that as by no means a certainty."

I know it's not a certainty, I thought I had made that clear. However, I would like to believe that those willing to invest that amount of money would: 1) Know how to care for the artifacts they just retrieved properly 2) If THEY ARE trying to generate revenue, generate that revenue solely from their own traveling, public displays or television documentaries. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on which way one looks at it or tries not to, the remains of the Titanic do represent a great "business opportunity". Just ask James Cameron. But rest assured Inger, I'm sure you won't see recovered Titanic artifacts on E-bay anytime soon. Unless we're talking about coal. Incidentally, everyone here does remember that RMTI salvaged coal and then sold it to the general public right? Or is that just not important because it was coal and not steamer trunks or china or bed lamps? Whether it be because we are morbidly curious or genuinely interested, major human tragedies generate great public interest, and great public interest in turn leads to great business opportunities. Which is why RMTI was conceived and founded in the first place, no matter what they purport their reasoning to be. And if it wasn't a public company with myriad stockholders do you honestly think we'd know anything regarding their internal and external operating procedures?

"I also think there's a remarkable arrogance to a group that would presume to flout and legal processes because they 'know best' about what should be done on the site."

I'm sorry you feel that way, but when it comes to salvaging the Titanic, it seems nobody with the means and motivation to do so knows best. Someone needed to take a stand and act. Someone now has.

"Many museums have collections relying at least in part on questionable practices in acquiring artifacts in the past (Elgin Marbles...many Australian museums' collections of objects associated with indigneous peoples...). However, internationally reputable museums now have a very strict code regarding acquisition practices - I've discussed it at some length over here with even comparatively small local museums when working on exhibitions and with collections. Mike's point about the unliklihood of artifacts being acquired by the means this group have employed being accessible to the public make a good deal of sense to me."

It does to me too. Believe me, I know I sound arrogant myself here, but I'll be following the developing story closely and reserve my final word until the majority of the evidence has come to light. It will be interesting to see how it will all play out in the end. Usually though, things like this always manage to wash clean.

Patrick D.



> >
 
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Patrick Christophe Morrissey-D'amore

Guest
> "I do have one question for you, Jonathan. Would you happen to have a > vested interest in the recent illegal salvage operation?"

Thank you Adam, if that wasn't a genuine question then it is quite possibly the stupidest thing I've read yet this week. >
 
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Patrick Christophe Morrissey-D'amore

Guest
> "Why would you make that assumption for an illegal operation where the > idea is to make thier money without getting caught? Making their > profit without ending up in jail would be their first concern. > Anything else is secondary if considered at all."

Well sir, even in this day and age and especially when it comes to salvaging the Titanic, I still believe some people act out of principle and not solely for financial gain. Maybe that's too naive and cuddly, but I'm only twenty-five. Why in our society must we always assume the worst when it comes to the intentions of others before we've seen any evidence incontrovertibly proving the worst?

And if they are acting solely to reap mountains of green? The logical conclusion is that they'd keep the cash cow alive instead of immediately slaughtering it. A recovery expedition bringing up artifacts from the Titanic without a conservator(s) in their team would be ridiculous. I'm 100% certain they know the objects wouldn't last more than two weeks without conservation. And I would hope they would sufficiently recover their investment and then some solely through public displays and television/video documentaries, as selling these objects to private collectors is equivocal to throwing them into the nearest dumpster.

As for the legalities surrounding incarceration, fines, etc. Again, I have no clue, but methinks all possible legal fallout was considered long before this expedition began, and most likely a few lawyers have already been retained in anticipation of trouble. Diving to the ocean floor to "illegally" recover artifacts isn't exactly like knocking over a bank or a jewelry store on a whim. A great deal of thought had to have gone into this project beforehand.

Just some good guesses.

Patrick D.
 

Lee Gilliland

Member
Feb 14, 2003
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It is possible that these pirates already had buyers. I have a friend who recovers stolen art for a living, and she says one of the commonalities of the job is to find who has expressed interest in the art and rich enough to sponsor a theft, because a good many of the robberies are for just this reason. If the pirates already had interested parties, it could also explain why they aren't worried about any of the legalities - the entire thing is completely illegal, and the buyers would therefore not be talking no matter what.
 
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Patrick Christophe Morrissey-D'amore

Guest
> Extremely interesting Lee. If this is the case here, I'd be very, very sad. > I just don't think a private collector, no matter how wealthy could > properly care for these amazingly fragile and unstable artifacts.

Has your friend heard anything regarding this recovery operation?

Patrick D.
 
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Patrick Christophe Morrissey-D'amore

Guest
> Michael, > > Also note that I didn't realize there was more to your last response. A > friend pointed me back to the board so whatever the reasons I'm not > receiving all your questions, points and commentary. Unfortunately I don't > have time to jump back and forth and post to the board, so if anyone feels > I've failed to hit on something important, please try resending your > response. > > I'm glad you're an equal opportunity curmudgeon...for the record so was my > late, Great Uncle, John Albert-Hess. > > Patrick D.
 

Lee Gilliland

Member
Feb 14, 2003
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0
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Welcome aboard, Patrick. I'm still relatively new here myself, and one good way to eliminate the back-and-forthing is to use the "Last Day" link at the bottom of the left-hand side of the page. My friend works in the Stolen Arts and Artifacts section of the FBI and has nothing to do with salvage, it just occured to me as a possible explination for some of the more puzzling aspects of this incident.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Well sir, even in this day and age and especially when it comes to salvaging the Titanic, I still believe some people act out of principle and not solely for financial gain. <<

People who are knowingly engaging in an illegal operation (As these people would be.) are rarely known for being especially principled in the first place. Doing something illegal hardly inspires confidence.

>>Why in our society must we always assume the worst when it comes to the intentions of others before we've seen any evidence incontrovertibly proving the worst?<<

When somebody is breaking the law in the first place, why would anyone presume otherwise???

>>And if they are acting solely to reap mountains of green? The logical conclusion is that they'd keep the cash cow alive instead of immediately slaughtering it<<

Perhaps. The thing is, once they've made their money and made their getaway, they hardly have an incentive to care.

>>A recovery expedition bringing up artifacts from the Titanic without a conservator(s) in their team would be ridiculous. I'm 100% certain they know the objects wouldn't last more than two weeks without conservation. <<

This assumes you're dealing with an ethical group in the first place. For the reasons outlined above, this presumption is suspect in the extreme.

>>And I would hope they would sufficiently recover their investment and then some solely through public displays and television/video documentaries,<<

Hopes are not realities, and I doubt that anybody going on an illegal expedition would be so stupid as to put everything on public display. The authorities would tend to take a very unpleasant interest in this.

>>as selling these objects to private collectors is equivocal to throwing them into the nearest dumpster. <<

Yes it is...and that is exactly what people who plunder antiquties do. The black market in same is quite lucerative and has been a thorn in the side of international law enforcement for a very long time now.

>>As for the legalities surrounding incarceration, fines, etc. Again, I have no clue, but methinks all possible legal fallout was considered long before this expedition began, and most likely a few lawyers have already been retained in anticipation of trouble. <<

Which advice would be something along the lines of "Don't get caught!" Especially since the court currently holding jurisdiction hasn't given it up yet and isn't allowing RMSTI to surrender their status as Salvor in Possession.

>>Diving to the ocean floor to "illegally" recover artifacts isn't exactly like knocking over a bank or a jewelry store on a whim. A great deal of thought had to have gone into this project beforehand. <<

Which would among other things be something along the lines of "How do we best cover our tracks???"

> "I do have one question for you, Jonathan. Would you happen to have a > vested interest in the recent illegal salvage operation?"

Thank you Adam, if that wasn't a genuine question then it is quite possibly the stupidest thing I've read yet this week. >

Well, you might try to refrain from such inflammatory language for one thing (Consider this a forum rules compliance issue) and try answering the question on the other. Forthrightness goes a long way towards enhancing one's credibility. Evasions have the opposite effect.

Your call.