Australian tycoon turns to China for Titanic dream

Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:10pm EDT
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By James Regan

COOLUM, Australia (Reuters) - Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer has a vision of the future and it's made in China.

Palmer, a law school dropout, has based much of his fortune on selling minerals to China. Now backed by his faith in the fast-growing Asian economy, he wants a Chinese shipyard to build his dream project -- a replica almost down to the tee of the Titanic.

A fleet of luxury Bentley cars shuttled journalists off his private jet last week to hear plans for the ship at his golf resort on a pristine stretch of Australian coastline.

Handing out reproductions of blue floral dinner plates lost with the Titanic 100 years ago, the wise-cracking, self-made billionaire sought to fuel interest in the project, which has been met with skepticism by some in the media.

Palmer dreams of cruising into New York Harbor on Titanic II flanked at the wheel by Hollywood stars, Chinese Communist Party leaders he has befriended, and descendants of the original passengers. A Chinese navy escort, as well as ones from the U.S. and British fleets, would be there too, he says.

"Why not build the Titanic?" questioned Palmer, who made his fortune in real estate and by selling mineral rights in Australia to Chinese investors. "I'm 58 and I've got the money and I don't care what it costs."

The original Titanic, the largest liner in the world when it was launched and dubbed "virtually unsinkable", sank en route to New York after hitting an iceberg in April, 1912, killing 1,517 passengers and crew.

"I'm not saying he won't do it, but all I've seen so far are the plates," said James McCullough, a columnist for the Brisbane Courier Mail who has been following Palmer for years.   Continued...

Controversial billionaire Clive Palmer poses for pictures at his golf resort and spa in Coolum, Sunshine Coast August 21, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Reagan