There Could Be $US300 Million In Gold At A Shipwreck Site Off The South Carolina Coast

A marine exploration group says it has recovered nearly 1,000 ounces of gold from a long-ago shipwreck 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina.

Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration announced it had completed its latest mission to the site of the wrecked SS Central America, which went down in a hurricane in 1857. We first heard about the story from William J. Broad in the New York Times.

Gold contracts were recently trading at $US1,288.90 an ounce, meaning the haul could be worth about $US1.3 million. Among the specific items recovered:

  • Five gold ingots believed to weigh between 96.5 and 313.5 ounces
  • Two $US20 Double Eagle coins
  • A bottle
  • A piece of pottery
  • A sample of the ship’s hull

But this was only a recon mission, and many believe a lot more where this came from — up to $US336 million by one estimate.

The wreck was first probed 25 years ago, and ever since has been the subject of numerous claims. That actual owner remains on the lam, accused of bilking investors on the initial recovery enterprise he’d set up. The firm, Recovery Limited Partnership, is now in receivership, and its court-appointed receiver is now overseeing the entire project.

The wreck of the Central America itself is an amazing, tragic story. It’s said to have contributed to the Great Panic of 1857, since its reported $US2 million (in 1857 dollars) gold supplies were destined for commercial interests in New York. Meanwhile, 425 people ended up drowning.

You’ve got to read Broad’s full piece to get a flavour of the zaniness of the entire undertaking»

Odyssey is listed on NASDAQ as OMEX. Shares were up nearly 1.5% Friday.

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