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Got $200M to spare?

Check down the back of the couch cushions, will you? On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, they’re going to auction off over 5,000 items recovered therefrom, and a judge has ruled they all have to go in one, big lot to someone who will put them on public display. I’m not quite clear how a Virginia judge got jurisdiction, but good on her, anyhow.

I’m a Titanicophile — or was, until the discovery of the wreck, and the movie and the salvage and the whole Titanic industry. I have some deeply conflicted feelings about this whole business.

On the one hand, there’s no moral high ground in letting it all rot away and cease to be. I’m all for preserving as much of the past as we possibly can, up to and including digging up the ancestors. The wreck was two and a half miles down — finding it and salvaging any part of it took significant investment and significant risk — of money and real, live bodily harm.

On the other hand, the owner and profiteer is Premier Exhibitions, an organization with an ethical compass stolen from the vest pocket of PT Barnum’s stinking corpse. Their other main claim to fame is Bodies, a creepier rip-off of the sufficiently creepy Gunther von Hagens‘ Body Worlds Exhibition. Er, let’s just say, they felt compelled to put this disclaimer on the Bodies show:

This exhibit displays full body cadavers as well as human body parts, organs, fetuses and embryos that come from cadavers of Chinese citizens or residents. With respect to the human parts, organs, fetuses and embryos you are viewing, Premier relies solely on the representations of its Chinese partners and cannot independently verify that they do not belong to persons executed while incarcerated in Chinese prisons.

So. Huh.

Anyhow, the Telegraph has a great slide show of some of the stuff up for auction.

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

January 5, 2012 — 10:51 pm
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