By Chris Ciaccia
Published June 18, 2019
And you thought your baseball cards were worth putting on eBay.
Four German warships that were used and sank during World War I are being put up for sale on the auction website and could fetch $1 million or more.
The current owner, 70-year-old Thomas Clark, bought the shipwrecks in 1981 for an undisclosed sum and has decided he's had enough.
"It has been an absolute pleasure to own and dive on these iconic vessels and I regret I have not managed to do more with them during the period of my ownership," Clark said of the wrecks that have been lying on the Orkney seabed for nearly 100 years, in comments obtained by SWNS. "I look forward to passing them on to the new owner and hope they get the opportunity to realize their aspirations for the vessels."
Clark has set a "Buy it now" price of 250,000 British pounds ($313,101) for each of the Dreadnoughts SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm, SMS Konig and SMS Markgraf and 60,000 British pounds ($75,144) for the cruiser SMS Karlsruhe.
According to the eBay ads, if someone bought all four shipwrecks, they could "have a sizeable naval fleet amongst the largest in the world."
The ships were part of the German High Seas Fleet and took part in the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of the conflict.
Eventually, they were interned by the British Royal Navy in Scapa Flow in 1919 where they were disarmed. Before the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the commander of the interned fleet, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, ordered the fleet to be scuttled to prevent the allied forces from seizing them and they have sat on the ocean floor ever since.
In total, 52 of the 74 vessels seized wound up sinking. Many of the wrecks were eventually salvaged and towed away, but the aforementioned wrecks have sat on the ocean floor, where they are protected as official monuments.
Clark bought the SMS Markgraf and planned to salvage it, but the fact it's protected as a monument prevented him from doing this. It, and the other wrecks have become popular for recreational divers, but they are not allowed to touch or go with a meter of the wrecks.
The new owner would have the right to dive on the ship and be allowed to enter and touch them, while also being able to reclaim items from them. However, they would need permission from Historic Environment Scotland.
It's also unlikely that any kind of commercial salvage would be allowed and any sale would need the consent of the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense before any sale is finalized.