When I first read about the theft of the Titanic necklace, I assumed it was referring to the necklace worn by Kate Winslet in the film "Titanic." If that was the case, it would be worth little to the robber; its only value would be as Hollywood memorabilia, and it would be nearly impossible to sell.
That is not the necklace that was stolen. The adornment belonged to a well-known passenger on the RMS Titanic, Eleanor Widener of Philadelphia. The Associated Press reports the necklace is said to be worth close to $20,000, but its loss is much more than financial.
The priceless items that were worn on the Titanic tell the story of what happened on the night of April 15, 1912, nearly a century ago. To steal such a historic artifact steals a piece of something that can never be again. Was the theft for monetary gain or for an individual's selfish collection? No matter the reason, perhaps the thief will have a moment of clarity and return the item so it can be enjoyed by all.
It is highly unlikely that the well-known jewelry could be sold without the perpetrator getting caught for the crime.
The tragic story of the Titanic sinking is heartbreaking but fascinating at the same time. Widener, the owner of the necklace, was traveling on the ship with her husband, George, and her son, Harry. She was the lone survivor of the three. The Wideners were one of the richest families in America. George was the eldest son of Peter Widener, a wealthy street car magnate, and it was he who ultimately took over the family business. Son Harry was an avid collector of rare books and manuscripts.
It was said that Harry may have perished that fateful dark night because of one of those books. The story told is that Harry was just about to step into a lifeboat when he suddenly thought better of it. He bolted back to his cabin to retrieve a rare 1598 edition of "Bacon's Essays" but was unable to find a lifeboat to return to and subsequently drowned.
The widow Widener donated $3.5 million to establish the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library in her son's name. Today the large collection he had amassed in his short life is housed in that famous library.
As the beautiful ship is disintegrating under the sea, we will eventually only have these priceless artifacts to view and recall the tales of the 1,500 passengers who died on that cold, black night in the middle of the Atlantic.
- Kate Winslet