Great-Granddaughter Of Titanic Passenger Inquiring About Satchel Of Jewels
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A woman whose great-grandfather died on the Titanic is making inquiries into whether the satchel of jewels recovered last month from the vessel’s wreckage belonged to her ancestor, according to a published report.
Nancy Clark has asked the Titanic Historical Society to help her contact officials of the French-based expedition that removed the satchel to discuss the possibility that it belonged to her great-grandfather, Englehart C. Ostby, the Washington Post reported in today’s editions.
Ostby, 65, was a jewelry manufacturer returning from a gem-buying trip in Europe when he perished when the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in 1912.
The newspaper quoted her as saying that she could not prove the satchel belonged to Ostby but that in a letter to the historical society, she wrote: ″Every two to three years there was a trip to Europe to retrieve gems and semiprecious stones ... and I feel quite sure they were on the ship when it sank.
″It seems very likely the satchel of jewels just recovered may belong to our family ... and I want this pointed out to someone who will notify the proper personnel involved in the project.″
The newspaper, which contacted Ms. Clark by telephone, reported that she asked that her hometown not be made public.
She told the Post she wrote her letter mainly to help establish where the jewels came from. ″I don’t want people to think we have a lot of money, because we don’t,″ she said. ″I’m just interested in things historical.″
Robert Chappaz, leading the Titanic expedition, last month said artifacts recovered from the wreckage may be returned to Titanic survivors or descendants who prove ownership.
But Robert Slavitt, the expedition’s general counsel, told the Post that it would not be up to Chappaz to make such decisions. Slavitt said rights to the recovered artifacts rest with the North American-based financiers of the expedition, Ocean Research and Exploration Ltd.
Slavitt said maritime law provides that owners of salvaged property are entitled to have it returned upon payment of prorated costs of the recovery operation.