A group of investors including Apollo Global Management, Alta Fundamental Advisers and PacBridge Capital Partners have received approval to buy a trove of Titanic artifacts and their bankrupt owner.
On October 18, a U.S. bankruptcy court judge for the middle district of Florida in Jacksonville approved the purchase of the artifacts and RMS Titanic for $19.5 million, bankruptcy filing documents show.
The artifacts include clothing, letters, cookware, coins, floor tiles, and part of the hull of the infamously wrecked ship, according to bankruptcy filings. Other than artifacts preserved by survivors of the shipwreck, the artifacts recovered by the bankrupt company are the only others to be recovered from the wreckage, the filings show.
The bankruptcy process was a lengthy one, with RMS Titanic’s parent company, Premier Exhibitions, initially filing Chapter 11 for bankruptcy protection on June 14, 2016, an announcement from Premier shows. Along the way, a consortium including the National Maritime Museum and the National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland considered making a bid for the company, which would have forced an auction process, the bankruptcy filings show.
However, Judge Paul Glenn ruled in favor of the bidding procedures proposed by Premier Exhibitions on August 30, which stipulated that any potential buyers that were not the stalking horse bidder — which is the consortium led by Apollo, Alta and PacBridge — would have to pay at least $21.5 million for the company, according to the filings.
Following the approval, the museum consortium did not file an official bid for the company, the court docket shows.
Ultimately, the investment group that included Apollo, Alta, PacBridge, and several wealthy individuals, prevailed, and now have court approval to buy RMS Titanic out of bankruptcy. A spokesperson for New York-based private equity firm Apollo declined to comment on the purchase. A spokesperson for New York-based investment advisory firm Alta Fundamental didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment. A spokesperson for Hong Kong-based PacBridge and RMS Titanic’s lead attorney didn't reply to emails seeking comment.
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Following the wreck of the RMS Titanic in 1918, the ship and its contents remained undersea until RMS Titanic, a company formed to excavate the site, began expeditions in 1987, according to the bankruptcy filings.
Divers recovered roughly 2,100 artifacts over the course of 32 dives to the Titanic wreck site during 1987, according to the bankruptcy filings. The company conducted further expeditions at the wreck site in the following years, recovering more than 3,000 additional artifacts, the filings showed.
In total, the company was able to recover about 5,500 artifacts from the wreckage, according to the filings.