I have been so busy this past week with the hearing and then trying to get back to normal schedules that I have not had time to update this board. My apologies for that. In my absence, I should thank Bill Willard, who as always, does a fine job of presenting the latest facts.
Yes, the court in Richmond came out like a lion against some of the stances taken by RMST. Thank heaven they took this position. And true, Gavin, the decision is not yet final. It won't officially come down for 2 to 6 months I'm told. But having been in attendance, I would find it hard to bet against the Richmond court ultimately ordering RMST to go back to Norfolk to iron out their discrepancies.
I am aware of several instances where RMST has attempted to negotiate sale of portions of the artifact collection with reputable museum concerns throughout the world. The Norfolk court has said repeatedly that the collection may not be broken apart and must be sold as one complete collection to a recognized museum facility that will in turn agree to keep the collection conserved and together for future generations to see and learn from. I am most agreeable with that stance. I might even agree to an eventual arrangement where the entire 6,000+ artifact collection might be separated into two or three major portions all held by reputable museum programs throughout the world for continuing display. But I cannot support transfer of all or part of the collection from RMST to a foundation owned by Arnie Geller, with his wife Judy being the chief financial officer and his doctor being one of the two other board members. That smells of Arnie Geller, CEO of RMST, selling Arnie Gelller, CEO of the foundation, the artifacts to avoid court interference. And then, what is to stop sale to collectors at random throughout the world, effectively dismembering the collection of artifacts? The court in Norfolk, which has acted with so much wisdom and foresight throughout the years of expeditions and acculmuation of recovered artifacts is our one best hope to control and administer the continuing repsonsibilities of caring for and housing the artifacts for future generations.
RMST must go back to Norfolk with their concerns and address them with that court. They are entitled to adequate payment for their work as a salvor, but they are entitled only to that. If financial mismanagement leaves RMST in precarious financial positions, that is not the concern of the court. Bad business decisions cannot jeopardize the artifacts and wreck site. If RMST goes bankrupt, another salvor will be assigned to take RMST's place and the world will continue as it was. When salvage work is completed, a natural course of events will and should take place to assure the wreck is administered (NOAA and the US Coast Guard may play a key role in that ongoing responsibility according to newly published guidelines)and that the artifacts are properly placed as discussed above. The salvor at that time must file claim for additional relief it feels it is owed and the court in Norfolk will have to address that matter until both the court and the salvor is satisfied. But clearly, it is the court which controls the execution of events at all times, not the salvage company. Because of that, I am resting more comfortably than I have for a while.
I haven't posted in a very long time but I thought you all might be interested in the hearing that I attended today in Norfolk Court. RMS Titanic Inc. presented Judge Clarke with their intention to create a non-profit foundation in order to solicit donations from the public and apply for grants. If it is able to get the funds, the Titanic Foundation would also purchase the artifacts from RMSTI, along with the archives of information on the wreck. The Judge has a problem with this, however, as Arnie Geller is listed as head of both RMSTI and the Titanic Foundation. The Judge is unwilling at this time to grant permission for the artifacts to be sold until more specifics about the Foundation are presented. RMSTI plans another expedition to the wreck in Summer 2002.
Thanks for the Virginia courtroom update. Sounds like the judge is a wee bit suspicious. Was Bill Willard there, too?
Really good to see your name again. I have a great picture of you being swept off your feet by a mad Irishman last March 17th. Drop me your mailing address privately, and I'll send it along. firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, I'm missing something here. Who is Dick Barton? (E-mail me privately if the answer is something nobody wants to put out in public.)I gather there is something smelly going on with his being "left on the dock"
As to the suspicious nature of Judge Clarke, may he remain ever such and untrusting!
>Mike Herbold! Where have you been?< You know Mr Willard, I was asking the very same question at the Queen Mary meeting. Luckily for me, he was just fashionably late! (Just ribbin' ya there Mike! :-} )
Dik Barton is now the VP at RMSTI. He earned a unique reputation on the 2000 Expedition. After Michael Harris was fired, Barton took over, and in words of people on the Expedition he was "Gestapo-like" in his treatment of the expedition team.
RMSTI is in a bit of trouble. The French will not work with them, and now, neither will the Russians. Rule out the MIRS and NAUTILE. Oceaneering has filed a suit for almost $1 million over a breach-of-contract type case from the 2000 Expedition. It will be heard in Texas in January. Who is left? Very few.
So, RMSTI sent in a deposit for Dik Barton to go on a tourist dive sponsored by Mike McDowell. (Remember the wedding on the bow?) Barton was going to go down and recover several pieces of coal. Then, it would be presented to the Court as "maintaining a presence at the wreck site" as well as doing a personal recognizance of the site itself. However, people involved refused to allow Barton on board. Barton flew to St. John's to board the ship and was refused access to the Keldysh. The Russians were still upset at him for his behavior at the end of the Expedition. His deposit was returned. And, I suppose, he made arrangements to fly back to Atlanta.
This is an old thread that is now reopened. I need to inform all of you of the events that will transpire on Monday, February 25.
Arnie Geller, CEO for RMSTI has filed an appeal with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. His appeal challenges the jurisdiction of the Norfolk Court, and Judges J. Calvitt Clarke and Rebecca Beach Smith over the artifacts. What this means in the long run, should Geller's argument be accepted by the court, is that the Norfolk orders barring sales of the artifacts will be reversed. RMSTI would have the right to sell artifacts to whomever they choose, at a price the choose. It may also rescind the order that restricts recovery from the interior areas of the bow.
A UVA law professor was asked to file an amicus brief on behalf of the Court. This professor looked at the case as a neutral party, and strongly backed the decisions and rulings of Judge Clarke. He also goes on to commend the Judge for his exemplary decisions that benefitted the Titanic, and her interests to keep her historical integrity, as well as opportunities for the salvage company (RMSTI) to have some means to recoup their investments without having to sell the artifacts.
A third amicus brief was approved yesterday. One of our posters on ET, David Shuttle, petitioned the court to accept an amicus brief on his behalf. His brief discusses his ties to several of the artifacts, particularly the Shuttle letters found in the Howard Irwin materials and on display in the exhibitions. He discusses also the watch of Thomas Brown that was returned to Edith Brown Haisman, which, after Mrs. Haisman's passing, was returned to RMSTI for exhibition purposes.
Dave argues that those family possessions (and he did get a letter from Dot Kendle in support of his position) were promised never to be sold. He also argues that coal was sold with the claim it would be the only items ever to be sold from Titanic. He requests that the Appellate court allow the Norfolk Court (Judges Clarke and Smith) to maintain their "overseer" (my words) status of the care and condition of the artifacts.
The case is the second of three cases to be heard Monday. Marc Davis of the Virginia-Pilot will be present and should have an article about the case that evening. As in most appeal cases, the court probably won't make a decision for several days. I would think we'll know something within two weeks.
Keep your fingers crossed, and hope the right thing gets done.
Thank you for filling in the details. I hope that all goes well and that you will let all of us know what happens after Monday, if you are at liberty to talk. I hold out hope that with the names "Smith" & "Clark" they do the right things for Titanic.
Is there anything that the general Titanica public can do to voice the opposition of the artifacts being sold?
Is there a way that we can support Mr. Shuttle and the historical integerty of Titanic and the memories of those who were lost?
At this time, there's not much to do before Monday's hearing. I'm sure sending Dave an email of support would be a nice touch. There is an email list of updates that discuss RMSTI's situation, if you want to follow closely. It has stated details of all the briefs, as well as situational reports of the company's dealings.
The advantage of being on the list is that if we need things quickly, such as signatures for a petition, or for people to spread the word, it's much quicker.
Other than that, keep hoping, and like Michael Standart up there, keep your fingers crossed. But uncross them to type!
Thanks for your Information. I shall look forward to any further developements. Like many others, I'm opposed to the sale of any artifacts, personal or otherwise although I just knew it would come to this eventually. My grandfathers watch was promised to one of his sons from his first marriage and according to what mother always told us, has TWS Brown inscribed on the back. She can always remember the 'expert' way he would swing it around on its chain before dropping into his waistecoat pocket. This item, along with others should permenantly remain on public display for historical reasons and not 'shunted' around for personal gain.
Good to hear from you! I hope things are well in England for you.
I couldn't agree with your sentiments any more. Your grandfather's watch should be a powerful symbol of the personal side of Titanic's story. It tells of the history, just as you mentioned the way he used to swing it around, and it tells of the present, that it was recovered and returned to your mother. And it will tell the future of both your grandfather, and your mother, one of the grand ladies of Titanic.
Thanks for sharing the watch story. By the way, I loved your book!