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July 22, 2014

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Exclusive: Sale of 5,500 Titanic artifacts, including those at Luxor, expected to fetch $180 million-plus

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Rita Rudner with her husband Martin Bergman and daughter Molly at “Titanic: the Exhibit” at the Luxor.

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Keepsake coal recovered from the Titanic shipwreck.

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The Titanic Exhibit at the Luxor.

If you have a spare $189 million and want to own the entire collection of Titanic memorabilia in time for the 100th anniversary of the voyage, you have 10 days to submit an offer. The 5,500-piece Titanic collection, including the 350 on display at the Luxor, is up for sale.

On April 10, 1912, the Titanic set off on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York. On April 14, it collided with an iceberg and sank 12,500 feet to settle on the North Atlantic Ocean floor. National Geographic released extraordinary views of its resting place today.

“Titanic: the Exhibit” commemorates the 100th anniversary of the voyage next Tuesday at 11 a.m. with a candlelit vigil at the Luxor with Renee West, hotel president; 185 fourth- and fifth-graders from Griffith Elementary School; and Alex Klingelhofer, vice president of collections for Premier Exhibitions. Tom Goldsmith, a descendant of survivor Frank John William Goldsmith, will speak about the legacy of the RMS Titanic before a moment of silence to honor those who suffered or were lost in the sinking.

The Titanic Collection consisting of all of the more than 5,500 artifacts recovered from the wreck and a substantial body of intellectual property is for sale, but you have to buy it altogether, not piecemeal. It’s likely to sell for $180 million-plus, and a judge has issued a court order about the terms of the sale.

Go to Guernseys.com and click on the Titanic poster. The artifacts were recovered during seven expeditions to the site from 1987 through 2004. Additional expeditions to the site have taken place but were for the purposes of photographing and mapping the site. The dives were dangerous and costly and required multinational efforts and state-of-the-art equipment.

The range of artifacts is nothing short of extraordinary, including 100 pieces of jewelry and souvenirs from the Titanic’s three classes of passengers. About half of the collection is in storage in Atlanta, while the other half is displayed in six global exhibitions, including at the Luxor, which features the “Big Piece,” a 17-ton section of the hull with hundreds of rivets and portholes. The items at the Luxor and other five exhibits are part of the collection to be sold by March 31.

The Titanic Collection includes hundreds of hours of underwater video footage of the undersea recovery of the artifacts, along with extensive three-dimensional mapping of the ship itself and the ocean floor encompassing the debris field.

A U.S. Court confirmed that Premiere Exhibitions, the company that oversaw the recovery effort and has maintained the Titanic Collection for more than 25 years, is its rightful owner. The court agreed that if Premiere Exhibitions wanted to sell the collection, it could do so. However, the Court has insisted that the new buyer follow certain covenants:

1. The Titanic Collection must be kept together, and individual artifacts cannot be sold one by one. If the new owner wishes to sell the collection in the future, he must sell it as an entire collection for its historic preservation.

2. The collection has to be carefully taken care of just as a museum would care for its objects.

3. A portion of the collection must be available for the public to view. If the new owner wishes, this could be limited to just a small portion of the collection, and the viewing can be at a museum or a commercial exhibition where the public pays for the viewing opportunity.

In 2007, the U.S. Court asked that an appraisal be undertaken, and it came in at $189 million. Some experts say that figure is too low and is really worth more than $200 million. Their belief is that it is more valuable than any painting or group of paintings sold at auction, and it is in fact the most extraordinary collection of anything on Earth.

The court will approve the new owner after bids are reviewed on or about April 2. Only after the winning bidder is approved will we know what happens to the Luxor exhibit.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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