7 Surprising Conspiracy Theories About The Titanic That You May Not Have Heard Before

Published December 14, 2023
Updated December 15, 2023

J.P. Morgan Sank The Titanic To Kill His Rivals

J.P. Morgan

Library of Congress/Wikimedia CommonsJ.P. Morgan, who owned the White Star Line, was one of the most prominent businessmen of the time.

While the Olympic exchange theory claims that J.P. Morgan was involved in the planned sinking of the Titanic, one other Titanic conspiracy theory claims that Morgan was the mastermind behind the entire plot.

Prior to the ship’s voyage, J.P. Morgan had been pushing for the creation of a centralized banking system in the United States, which would become the U.S. Federal Reserve. While Morgan decided not to board the Titanic, three other key players in the financial world did — and they died because of it.

Indeed, John Jacob Astor IV, Isidor Straus, and Benjamin Guggenheim all perished when the Titanic sank. And this conspiracy theory claims that J.P. Morgan sank the ship on purpose because Astor, Straus, and Guggenheim all opposed Morgan’s plan for the creation of the Federal Reserve.

This theory, like the Olympic exchange theory, points to the fact that J.P. Morgan cancelled his trip on the Titanic last minute. And an influential millionaire killing his rivals for money and power is certainly not unheard of.

However, there is no evidence that Astor, Straus, and Guggenheim opposed the creation of the Federal Reserve. In fact, Straus actually spoke out in favor of Morgan’s plan in 1911, according to The New York Times, and Astor and Guggenheim did not take a public stance on a centralized banking system.

That said, experts still debate why J.P. Morgan backed out of his trip, as there have been multiple explanations for his cancellation. It was initially reported that he fell ill, and he wanted to spend time with his mistress.

According to Reuters, Don Lynch, a historian at the Titanic Historical Society, suggested another potential reason: “One of J.P. Morgan’s biographers said that France was changing its laws to prevent Americans from exporting art treasures from that country, so Morgan went to Paris to oversee getting his purchases out of the country before the new laws went into effect.”  

But regardless of what the real reason was, even if J.P. Morgan had planned for the ship to crash and kill his rivals, a lot of things would have had to go exactly right. There was no guarantee that all three of the wealthy men would perish in the crash, and a lot of other innocent people would also die.

As Reuters put it: “While it is true that J.P. Morgan owned the Titanic and did not sail on its doomed maiden voyage, there is no evidence to suggest he deliberately missed the trip because he knew the ship would sink. Historians have debated several reasons for Morgan to cancel his trip, but none is related to the Federal Reserve.”

Hannah Reilly Holtz
Hannah Reilly is an editorial fellow with All That's Interesting. She holds a B.A. in journalism from Texas Tech University and was named a Texas Press Association Scholar. Previously, she has worked for KCBD NewsChannel 11 and at Texas Tech University as a multimedia specialist.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.