April 18, 2009

Buyer returns memento to Titanic survivor

An anonymous British buyer who bought a canvas bag belonging to a 97-year-old Titanic survivor has asked the auctioneer to return the memento to the seller.

The mail-bag was Millvina Dean's only remaining souvenir from the Titanic, The Times of London reported. She was a baby traveling with her parents when the ship struck an iceberg and sank, claiming 1,516 lives, including her father's.

Dean, who lives in a nursing home in Southampton, put the bag up for auction to help pay her medical expenses.

The bidding went a little over £5,000 ($7,500), which I think the seller would be very happy with, said auctioneer Andrew Aldridge of Devizes, Wiltshire. However when the buyer came to pay for the bag, he said Ms Dean should have it and then just left. I've never seen him before, all I know is that he is a businessman in London.

The auction Saturday brought in a total of 300,000 pounds ($450,000). The highest-selling item was a rusty key found on the body of Edmund Stone, a steward who used it to open a corridor door, creating a route for third-class passengers to get to the lifeboats.

An Irish collector paid 59,000 pounds (almost $90,000) for the key, which had remained with Stone's family.