By: Matt Rego
Shares of bankrupt museum-quality touring exhibition business, Premier Exhibitions Inc. (OTC Pink: PRXIQ) are rocketing higher this morning by 68%. The company normally sees average daily volume of around 16,819 over the past three months, but nearly 89,000 shares or $134,390 in dollar volume in afternoon trading on Thursday, June 23, 2016.
Premier Exhibitions Inc. (OTC Pink: PRXIQ) is in charge of several traveling exhibits such as “Bodies,” “Titanic,” “King Tut,” and more. Unfortunately, the cash strapped business was forced to enter into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 14, 2016. The reason for the heft pop higher comes from speculation that the bankruptcy judge would allow the sales of the company’s vast artific collection, including from the Titanic, which could fetch hefty sums if the items are approved to be sold off to raise money. Here is a press release detailing of the latest developments in the bankruptcy case:
The Titanic is sinking again—but this time, some of its trinkets might be saved in advance.
Premier Exhibitions Inc., the cash-starved company behind the traveling “Titanic” and “Bodies” exhibitions, is asking a bankruptcy judge for approval to sell some of its artifacts.
The company says a sale of some of the “Titanic” artifacts could fetch enough money to pay back all of its creditors, return all equity to shareholders, and even provide for funds for Premier through and after the bankruptcy process. Namely, Premier owes $12 million to unsecured creditors.
Premier filed for bankruptcy protection last week after facing legal challenges and the early closure of its “Saturday Night Live” exhibition. Premier has developed other popular exhibits—among them “Bodies” and “The Discovery of King Tut”—but its first big hit was “Titanic.”
Premier owns more than 5,500 artifacts it salvaged from the wreckage of the Titanic in a series of expeditions spanning more than 30 years. The company says the sale of just four artifacts could fetch $10 million or more at an auction.
Beginning in 1987, one of Premier’s affiliates worked with the French government’s oceanographic institute on a joint expedition to recover roughly 2,100 artifacts over the court of 32 dives.
In 1993, Premier’s company went back down to the wreckage to bring more artifacts back to the surface. Following this expedition, a U.S. court had named Premier the “salvor-in-possession” of the site. The company then led expeditions to the wreckage site between 1994 and 2004, collecting more than 3,000 additional artifacts.
While Premier says it “recognizes and appreciates their historic value,” it also sees money in these artifacts. The company hopes to sell a specific and “limited” amount of artifacts, namely from what it refers to as the “French Collection,” or the objects retrieved on the initial trip in 1987. The sale would be so minor that it would leave “99.5% of the French Collection intact,” according to court papers.
This collection of artifacts includes a variety of trinkets, from a ring with a blue sapphire surrounded by 14 small diamonds to a sterling silver mesh ladies’ evening handbag to a steward’s jacket and silver-plated chocolate or syrup pot used in the first-class restaurant. While Premier listed a total of 10 artifacts from this collection, none of these are necessarily the items that would be for sale.
These waterlogged trinkets, both the French and American collections, have been appraised in recent years. In 2007, the American collection of artifacts alone was worth about $189 million. Later, in 2014, fine arts appraiser Richard Raymond Alsako said the combined collections “had a total market value of approximately $218 million,” according to court papers.
The sale would be a first—Premier acknowledged in court papers that not only has the company never sold one of the Titanic’s artifacts, but neither has any other entity ever “legally recovered or sold” anything recovered from the wreckage.
Nevertheless, there is a market for Titanic artifacts since survivors or rescuers have sold saved or recovered items. Court papers go on to list examples of sales, like a cracker that sold for $23,000 in 2015, or a crew member’s violin that beckoned $1.454 million at an auction in 2013.
Since Premier has recovered its objects from the ocean floor and has since conserved them over the years, the value of their artifacts could be even more.
In addition to paying off creditors, shareholders and keeping Premier afloat, proceeds from these sales could also be used toward future care of the collections.
The company will put the proposal before a judge in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Jacksonville, Fla., on July 12 .