'Sinking' firm in bid to sell Titanic items to pay debt
THE bankrupt United States company that controls thousands of artefacts salvaged from the ill-starred Titanic has sued the French government to be allowed to sell some of them.
Premier Exhibitions filed the suit in a Florida federal bankruptcy court to press the French government to clarify it has no interest in the artefacts that would prevent their sale.
The suit came after the judge in the case last month denied Premier permission to sell some of the recovered goods, which include jewellery and clothing, to repay creditors.
Premier ran into financial trouble after years of putting on commercial exhibitions displaying items recovered from the Titanic, which sank in 1912.
The judge ruled that the French government could still retain some rights over the first batch of some 2,100 artefacts recovered from the ship in 1987 by a Premier subsidiary together with a French maritime institute.
An agreement between the Premier subsidiary RMS Titanic and France at the time of the first salvage mission required the recovered goods - called the "French Artefacts" - to be kept together as a collection.
But Premier argues in the suit that France awarded it "unconditional" title to the artefacts in 1993, giving it the right to sell some.
The suit will require France to clarify if it does or does not claim some control over them.