Letter Written By Titanic Survivor Who Escaped on ‘Money Boat’ Up for Auction

The letter's author was scrutinized by the media and British officials, who claimed her husband offered to pay off rescuers if they kept rowing and left others behind.

A letter penned by an ornery passenger complaining about how the press treated her after she was rescued from the sinking Titanic is going up for auction in Boston this month.

According to R.R. Auction, which has headquarters in the North End, Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon, a survivor of the ocean tragedy of 1912, wrote the three-page letter to a friend in May of that same year. Duff-Gordon, a British fashion designer at the time, and her husband escaped the sinking passenger liner on “Lifeboat 1” with 12 others on board. The lifeboat was meant to carry a total of 40 passengers in the event of an emergency, and was later dubbed the “Money Boat” by the press for only saving the lives of a select few notables.

Duff-Gordon and her husband were later scrutinized by the British Wreck Commissioner, who was conducting an investigation into allegations that Duff-Gordon’s husband, Cosmo, had bribed the boat-rowers manning the escape vessel to leave others behind to ensure their own safety as the Titanic continued to plunge beneath the ocean’s surface.

According to R.R. Auction, they were the only couple in that particular boat asked to testify about the sequence of events the night the Titanic went under.

In response to how she was treated, Duff-Gordon wrote the following from her Knightsbridge home:

How kind of you to send me a cable of sympathy from New York on our safety. According to the way we’ve been treated by England on our return we didn’t seem to have done the right thing in being saved at all!!!! Isn’t it disgraceful.

Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at R.R. Auction, said this type of correspondence about the Titanic is extremely rare, and gives people a peek at what happened following the sinking that claimed the lives of 1,500 people. “[It’s] rarely encountered—especially written so soon after the tragedy,” he said in a statement.

Bidding will take place from January 15 to 21, followed by a live auction event on January 22 at the Omni-Parker House, according to Livingston.

The letter written by Duff-Gordon can be read in full, below:


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