Titanic News, A Century Later: Auctions, Box Office Records, And A Mission To Save The Ship

For a 100-year-old shipwreck, the Titanic has been in the news a lot lately. Artifacts connected to the doomed ship are going up for auction, the 30th anniversary of its discovery has just passed, and the film that immortalized the ocean liner still tops in the worldwide box office nearly 20 years after its release.

Even a bevy of dinosaurs can’t topple the Titanic. Jurassic World passed the $1 billion mark in worldwide earnings this weekend, which wasn’t enough to surpass the $1.53 billion Titanic earned since it was released in 1997, Hollywood Reporter added. The only film to beat it was another James Cameron movie — Avatar.

Titanic has been in the news quite a bit recently. Artifacts connected to the shipwreck are going up for auction left and right, including the menu for the last lunch served before the Titanic sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic in April, 1912.

Coming up alongside the menu is a letter from aristocrat Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, who was condemned as a coward after surviving the sinking of the Titanic. That’s because he was accused of bribing the crew to help him escape, ignoring the “women and children first” rule in the process, the Telegraph reported.

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On that fateful night, twelve people — Duff-Gordon, his wife (Lady Lucy), and their secretary (Mabel Francatelli) included — hopped aboard a lifeboat that was quickly rowed away from the Titanic, though it could’ve carried 28 more passengers.

Duff-Gordon admitted that he promised the crew money, but insisted it wasn’t a bribe — an official inquiry determined that the aristocrat made a charity donation the night the Titanic sunk.

The letter up for auction is related to the scandal, written by Duff-Gordon’s secretary to fellow Titanic survivor Abraham Lincoln Salomon (the man who saved the lunch menu).

“We do hope you have now quite recovered from the terrible experience … I am afraid our nerves are still bad, as we had such trouble and anxiety added to our already awful experience by the very unjust inquiry when we arrived in London.. Lady Gordon’s mother is with us and she would so much like to meet you being one who shared our boat.”

Meanwhile, with the Titanic once again at the tips of everyone’s tongues, those hoping to preserve the wreckage are speaking out about its crumbling condition at the bottom of the ocean, southeast of Newfoundland. Thirty years after its discovery, the Titanic isn’t looking so good.

According to National Geographic, the shipwreck site is littered with visitors’ trash, submersibles have damaged it by getting too close, and of course, the environment isn’t helping. Mollusks have eaten the ship’s wood and microbes are breaking down the metal, said explorer Robert Ballard.

“Most of the destruction is being done by humans that are landing on it. The hull itself is very strong and the bow section is embedded deep in the bottom, which is holding the ship together.”

Meanwhile, anyone can dive down to the wreck and remove its artifacts — and many people probably have over the years, Smithsonian added. Luckily, thousands of artifacts have been legally removed and preserved.

The Titanic has been allowed to crumble simply because it landed in an inconvenient spot — international waters, outside any national jurisdiction — which has stymied organized preservation efforts.

But Canada may save the day. It’s appealing to the United Nations to extend its underwater borders by 200 miles to encompass the location of the Titanic. Canada could then claim the wreck and start efforts to restore it. And though restoring the Titanic won’t be difficult, the process won’t be cheap, Ballard said.

“It’s not technology. It certainly wouldn’t [cost] millions. [The] price tag would be in line with preservation and conservation of buildings.”

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