Premier Exhibitions

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Poster for its Titanic exhibition at the Discovery Times Square Exposition in 2009.

Premier Exhibitions Inc NASDAQPRXI is an Atlanta, Georgia-based company that organizes travelling exhibitions. As of January 2019, the company owned 5,500 Titanic relics with approximately 1,300 on display in various countries.[1]

Its two most prominent exhibits are artifacts from the RMS Titanic (for which it is the sole legal guardian of the artifacts)[citation needed] and BODIES... The Exhibition in which it displays cadavers arranged in lifelike poses via plastination from the Dalian Medical University (through its Dalian Medical University Plastination Company subsidiary)[2] in China. It has multiple exhibits of both Bodies and Titanic running at the same time in different venues. In 2008, it entered into a 10-year lease for more than 36,000 square feet (3,300 m2) at the Luxor Las Vegas for exhibits of Titanic and Bodies there.[3] By 2013, more than 25 million people had visited the company's Titanic exhibits in Orlando, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and elsewhere.[4]

In May 2015 the company opened Premier on 5th[5], a flagship exhibition space on Fifth Avenue in New York City that housed "Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition"[6] and "The Discovery of King Tut."[7] On June 14, 2016, Premier Exhibitions filed for Chapter 11.[8]

In late August 2018, at least three groups were vying for the right to purchase the 5,500 Titanic relics that were an asset of the bankrupt company in the case titled RMS Titanic Inc., 16-02230, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida (Jacksonville). [9] Two of the offers for the collection were just under US $20 million, including one by museums in England and Northern Ireland, with assistance by James Cameron.[10] Oceanographer Robert Ballard told the news media that he favored this bid since it would ensure that the memorabilia would be permanently displayed in Belfast and in Greenwich. A decision as to the outcome was to be made by Paul M. Glenn, a United States district court judge in Jacksonville, Florida.[11]


RMS Titanic Inc.[edit]

RMS Titanic co-founder G. Michael Harris conducted the first salvage operation of Titanic in October 1986. The first Titanic expedition began in July 1987 and was financed by Titanic Ventures Limited Partnership, George H. Tulloch, Oceanic Research & Exploration, and Harris. These co-partners led a $6 million expedition to the ship, and recovered artifacts 12,850 feet (3.92 km) beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. Co-founder and RMS Titanic Chairman Tulloch (1944–2004), owner of the largest BMW dealership in the U.S., led five of the expeditions.[12] In order to recover these artifacts, Tulloch, Harris, and their team completed 32 dives to Titanic in the Nautile, a deep-diving submersible chartered by Oceanic Research and Exploration in a partnership with Ifremer, the French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea.[13] This is the greatest number of deep-sea dives ever completed for any televised project.[14][15] The company had an OTC ticker symbol of SOST.[16] In 1994 it won a Virginia court order to get salvor-in-possession rights to the ship.[citation needed]

In 1998, the company reported net income of $4 million on almost $10 million in revenues. The following year, revenue dropped to $6.4 million, resulting in a slight loss.[17]

When Tulloch died in 2004, he was lauded by the Titanic International Society, whose president said of him, "He has done more to preserve the memory of Titanic than anyone else".[18] In 1992, the company, through a reverse merger, formed itself as RMS Titanic Inc. Tulloch co-lead operations on the Titanic in 1993, 1994, 1996, and 1998 along with Harris who served on the Board of Directors as well as all aspects of the companies exhibition touring business. Harris along with his team of experts also designed the traveling as well as the permanent Titanic Exhibitions worldwide.[19]

Harris opened the first permanent Titanic exhibition on April 10, 1999;[20][when?] it is the largest Titanic exhibition in the world, located in Orlando, Florida; he sold it to Premier Exhibitions in 2012. Harris was the expedition leader in the summer of 2000 with over 120 hours on the wreck of Titanic and made eleven dives in the Russian Deep Diving Submersible MIR1 and MIR2. The 2000 expedition included the last manned salvage dives to the Titanic, but was the most successful from an artifact recovery operations standpoint. Harris also found some perfume bottles from the Titanic on August 2, 2000, in the Mir2 Russian submersible along with his Director of Operations, David Walker.

The television documentary “Return to the Titanic….LIVE”, hosted by Telly Savalas, was shown in 27 countries in 1987. A feature was the supposed live opening of the assistant purser's safe on television.[21]

RMS Titanic and Premier continued to be involved in litigation over the matter.[22]

1999 takeover[edit]

In 1999, investors from SFX Entertainment, along with co-founder G. Michael Harris and Arnie Geller, led a takeover and ousting of George Tulloch and the company's attorney.[23] Geller was installed as President and CEO of the company and Harris was installed as Chief Operating Officer as well as Secretary of RMS Titanic, Inc. They fired all other officers and directors and were the only two remaining directors.[24] John Joslyn was a small shareholder and took part in the takeover of the company in 1999.[25] Tulloch sued and was awarded $2.5 million in damages.[26] The abrupt takeover alarmed the governments of the U.K., France, Canada, and the U.S., especially when one of the insurgent investors was quoted as saying the new management was intent on cutting into Titanic's hull to recover more treasures and gain increased profits.[26]


In October 2004, the company changed its name to Premier Exhibitions and changed its ticker symbol to initially to PXHB on the OTC, after it branched out with the Bodies exhibition after it acquired The Universe Within Touring Company, LLC.[27]

The Body exhibits became the primary money maker for the firm with 19 separate human anatomy exhibitions at 33 venues while the Titanic was on exhibit at 15 locations in 2009.[27] In 2009 the company reported that 19% of its revenue came from Titanic and 67% from Bodies with the rest among its other exhibitions.[3]

The Body exhibits have generated considerable controversy over their appropriateness and questioning the practice of selling cadavers for public display without family permission.[2]

The company changed its ticker symbol again to PRXI when it was listed on NASDAQ. The new ticker symbol is PRXIQ


On Nov. 6, 2008, Mark Sellers, a 16% share holder in Premier Exhibitions Inc., issued a press release demanding the resignation of Premier’s CEO Arnie Geller, lambasting him for taking $1.2 million in compensation even as the shareholders saw their investment values plunge, with the stocks price dropping from $17 a share to under $2 a share. When Geller refused, a proxy battle erupted with Sellers’ firm nominating its own slate of directors in what amounted to a hostile takeover. By January 2009, Sellers decisively won the battle, was appointed as unpaid, non-executive chairman and fired Geller.[28]


In 2009, its other exhibits include "Dialog in the Dark" in which visitors pass through an exhibit totally without light.[29] and "Star Trek: The Exhibition".[30] By 2013, more than 25 million people had visited the company's Titanic exhibits in Orlando, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and elsewhere, said the company.[4]


After facing legal challenges and the early closure of its "Saturday Night Live" exhibition, Premier filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2016.[31]


As of 2020, RMS Titanic Inc. continues to be the wreck's legal salvager. Starting in 2009, they changed their approach to that of closer co-operation with Titanic preservation and regulatory bodies.[32]

In the fall of 2018, the 5,500 artifacts from the Titanic were all for sale after the bankruptcy filing of Premier Exhibitions in the United States. The National Maritime Museum, National Museums Northern Ireland, Titanic Belfast and Titanic Foundation Limited had joined together as a consortium that raised money to purchase the artifacts. They intended to keep all of the items together as a single exhibit. The museums were critical of the bid process set by the bankruptcy court which set the minimum bid at US$21.5 million (£16.5m). The consortium did not have enough funding to meet that amount and was unable to place a bid on the specified date, 11 October 2018.[33][34]

A critical opinion piece published in June 2020 accused Premier Exhibitions, and specifically its subsidiary R.M.S. Titanic Inc, of foul play over the auction of the ′artifacts, suggesting they declared bankruptcy to get around its commitment to keep the collections together and on public display. The piece described the company as "bandits" and "not fit for purpose".[35]

A further controversy arose in 2020, when RMS Titanic Inc. announced plans to retrieve Titanic's wireless radio and exhibit it. The U.S. government challenged the plan in a filing with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June, contending that any such expedition, which might "physically alter or disturb" the deteriorating wreck, requires authorization from the U.S. Department of Commerce and would breach an agreement with the U.K. that regulates entry into the hull.[36]


  1. ^ "Richmond businessman steers new course for Titanic exhibitions". Richmond News. January 9, 2019. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Negative publicity piles on Premier Exhibitions". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b [1] Archived July 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b Brown, Stephen; McDonagh, Pierre; Schultz II, Clifford J. (December 2013). "Titanic: Consuming the Myths and Meanings of an Ambiguous Brand". Journal of Consumer Research. Oxford University Press. 40 (4): 603. doi:10.1086/671474. JSTOR 10.1086/671474.
  5. ^ "PREMIER ON 5th Launches Spring 2015 with "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: THE EXHIBITION" Celebrating 40 Seasons of Comedy". Premier Exhibitions. January 13, 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  6. ^ Silverman, Justin Rocket (May 28, 2015). "New 'Saturday Night Live' exhibition features Wayne's World set and costumes worn by Tina Fey, Eddie Murphy and Will Ferrell". New York Daily News. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  7. ^ "The Discovery of King Tut Exhibition Now Open at Premier Exhibitions 5th Avenue". In New York, LLC. November 23, 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Premier Exhibitions Chapter 11 Petition" (PDF). PacerMonitor. PacerMonitor. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Dawn McCarty, Jef Feeley, Chris Dixon (2018-07-24). "James Cameron: Getting Titanic Artifacts to U.K. Would Be 'a Dream'". National Geographic. Retrieved 2018-09-02.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Dawn McCarty, Jef Feeley, Chris Dixon (2018-08-31). "Bankrupt Titanic exhibitor sets biggest sale of ship relics". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2018-09-02.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Hustak, Alan (February 8, 2004). "George Tulloch — Titanic artifacts devotee helped lead expeditions". Montreal Gazette. p. 43. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  13. ^ "Institut" (in French). Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  14. ^ "Titanic Pigeon Forge Employment". Archived from the original on 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  15. ^ "John Joslyn – Ackermann Wire". Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  16. ^ [2] Archived October 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Titanic". St. Petersburg Times. July 16, 2000. p. 8A. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  18. ^ "G. Tulloch, Titanic Salvager, Dies". Hartford Courant. February 3, 2004. p. B6. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  19. ^ Crew Profile, RMS Titanic Inc., 1999. Retrieved October 1, 2020
  20. ^ "G. Michael Harris Opens New Titanic Exhibit". PRLog. 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  21. ^ Corry, John (October 29, 1987). "TV Review; Safe From Titanic Is Opened". New York Times.
  22. ^ "Norfolk judge grants salvage award for Titanic artifacts". The Virginian-Pilot. 2010-08-14. Retrieved 2010-12-28.
  23. ^ "RMS Titanic execs out in investor squabble". St. Petersburg Times. November 30, 1999. p. E1. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  24. ^ "RMS Titanic, Inc. to Conduct First Research and Recovery Expedition to the RMS". Georgia: Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  25. ^ "Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Norfolk" (PDF). Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  26. ^ a b "Titanic and the treasures of the deep". Baltimore Sun. June 25, 2000. p. 4C. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  27. ^ a b "Premier Exhibitions Inc (PRXI.O) Company Profile -". Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  28. ^ Knape, Chris. "Grand Rapids bar owner Mark Sellers is man behind 'Bodies Revealed' and Titanic remains". Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  29. ^ "DIALOG IN THE DARK - Your Senses Will Never Be The Same | Home". Archived from the original on 2008-09-06. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  30. ^ "Star Trek - The Exhibition - Home". Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  31. ^ Rizzo, Lillian (June 22, 2016). "Premier Exhibitions Floats Sale of Titanic Items". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  32. ^ 'The lights are finally on'. National Geographic magazine, April 2012, Hampton Sides.
  33. ^ Titanic: Salvaged treasure may not return to Belfast BBC 5 October 2018
  34. ^ Bankrupt Premier Exhibitions Inc. owns 5,500 items from the ill-fated ocean liner The Basch Report 3 October 2018
  35. ^ "A judge has just put Titanic at serious risk — here’s why you should be really angry about it"
  36. ^ "U.S. challenges RMST's proposal to recover Titanic's Marconi radio". Voyage. Titanic International Society (113): 42. Autumn 2020.

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