Titanic survivor's account auctioned for $32,000LONDON (AP) — A first-person account of the sinking of the Titanic fetched 20,000 pounds ($32,000) Saturday in a British auction.
LONDON (AP) — A first-person account of the sinking of the Titanic fetched 20,000 pounds ($32,000) Saturday in a British auction.
The affidavit signed by Laura Francatelli, who got away in a lifeboat with her two prominent employers, easily topped its pre-sale estimate of 15,000 pounds ($24,000). It was bought by an anonymous collector from eastern Europe.
The most expensive item in Saturday's sale was a poster of Titanic which went for 60,000 pounds ($96,000) to an anonymous U.S. collector. Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge of Henry Aldridge & Son said that the highest price ever paid for a poster of the doomed ship.
In Francatelli's affidavit, she spoke of hearing an “awful rumbling” as the Titanic sunk in the icy North Atlantic in 1912.
She and her employers — Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his socialite wife, Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon — fled in a rowboat with a capacity for 40 people, but only 12 on board.
The Duff-Gordons were two of the most controversial survivors.
“Sir Cosmo gave the crewmen who were in the lifeboat with him 5 pounds each, which was a tremendous amount of money at the time, and it was misconstrued at the time that he was paying blood money,” Aldridge said before the sale.
The implication was that Duff-Gordon paid the crewmen to get him quickly away from the sinking vessel without returning to help those who were drowning. However, Aldridge said, it may be that the payments simply expressed relief and gratitude.
Francatelli, who was Lady Duff-Gordon's personal secretary, described a scene of utter terror as they tried to get as far as possible from the Titanic.
“We kept on rowing and stopping and rowing again,” she wrote.
"I heard some talk going on all about the suction if the ship went down. I do not know who joined in the conversation. We were a long way off when we saw the Titanic go right up at the back and plunge down.
“There was an awful rumbling when she went. Then came the screams and cries. I do not know how long they lasted. We had hardly any talk. The men spoke about God and prayers and wives. We were all in the darkness.”
Francatelli was 31 when the Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912. Her signed account was given as evidence to a British board of inquiry.
She died in 1967. The affidavit has been in private collections since shortly after her death.