Heist of the Century: Mel Fisher Maritime Museum Gold Bar Stolen

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Santa Margarita Bar of GoldUp until August 18th, if you’ve ever wanted to touch a 16.5-karat gold bar, you could make short visit to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West. The treasure hunter Mel Fisher, after which the museum is named, found the bar in 1980 from the wreck of the Santa Margarita located 25 miles west of Key West. The Santa Margarita, and it’s much larger and more famous sister the galleon Atocha, were Spanish treasure ships and they were on their way back to Spain loaded with gold and silver (and other precious items). A hurricane pummeled the entire convoy and the Santa Margarita was spread out across the ocean… and this gold bar came from Mel Fisher’s discovery of a portion of the loot.

History lesson aside, the 16.5-karat, 74.85 ounce gold bar was in the museum and any visitor could touch it. 74.85 ounces of gold has a market value of around $92,589 (at ~$1,237 an ounce) but it’s “uniqueness” and history puts the value at over half a million bucks. I’m surprised that the case was designed in such a way that someone could remove the bar. It seems like it wouldn’t be too difficult to build a case that would make this impossible… then again it sat undisturbed for twenty-five years.

I really hope the thieves don’t melt it down.

No arrests yet in theft of gold bar from museum [CNN]

(Photo: meltmatter)

{ 17 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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17 Responses to “Heist of the Century: Mel Fisher Maritime Museum Gold Bar Stolen”

  1. jsbrendog says:

    wow i was just in key west a week ago. this is unreal

  2. I needed some new teeth, sorry Mel.

  3. billsnider says:

    Life teaches you unfortunately to not be so trusting.

    I hope they find it.

    Bill Snider

    • Shirley says:

      Yes, and it’s a sad lesson, but one that has to be accepted. The best you can do is to remove the temptation by not making items easily accessible.

      The years when doors were left unlocked and people really looked out for one another are over, but hopefully not forgotten.

      • billsnider says:

        As you noted, when i was a kid, we NEVER locked our doors. No reason to do so. You knew and trusted everyone.

        Bill Snider

        • Jim says:

          Yep, this worked out well whenever I got home before my parents… it was better than climbing through a window. 🙂

  4. nickel says:

    Wow. We were just there at spring break.

  5. zapeta says:

    Thats crazy! I hope they get it back.

  6. Joe says:

    That’s horrible! I mean, they could have secured the bar better, but I just hate the awful people that made off with such a valuable piece of history!

    • cdiver says:

      While troubling it is due to the historical value, this is probably just one of hundreds of gold bars pulled from the two sites.

  7. Diasdiem says:

    The box actually was supposed to be designed so people could lift it to feel how heavy it was without being able to remove it. The thief just must have either been lucky, or really good at tavern puzzles.

  8. Kate says:

    It was indeed dumb luck. If you watch the video which is available all over the web, you can see the perps in action. Not an inside job at all.

  9. FlyFisher says:

    Ridiculous. Can’t believe they were not caught almost instantly with all the cameras around.

  10. Mike says:

    You think the Spanish government stole it to pay down their debts? 😀

  11. amber says:

    They didn’t make it easy for someone to steal it. that’s why it WASN’T stolen for 25 years. the case was made so you could lift the gold bar up and rotate it a little, but if you tried to get it out of the hole it would hit the side. use your heads,what idiot is going to design a public display case where the gold bar is easy to remove? one of the few ways that you could remove the bar would be to break the bar in half, or dislocate one of the plastic walls. either way would be rather noticeable to other guests walking around the museum, i would think.

  12. al says:

    The case was designed so you couldnt remove it. He must have bent it or cut it or cut the plexiglass real fast.

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