$1.3M gold bars recovered from 1857 shipwreck following legal battle

A messy legal battle and some 25 years later, crews are finally recovering millions of dollars worth of gold off the coast of South Carolina.

"These five gold bars totaling 1,000 ounces were found during the first dive to the wreckage. In today's market it is worth $1.3 million. ... Two $20 Double Eagle coins were also recovered from the shipwreck." (Vis WCSC)

Odyssey Marine Exploration has been working to recover the gold since last month. 

But this whole story started about 150 years ago when the SS Central America ship was wrecked in a hurricane near South Carolina, claiming hundreds of lives and leaving behind hefty amounts of gold. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Library of Congress)

"The ship sank back in 1857, but it wasn't discovered until 100 years later in 1986. Legal proceedings shut down recovery efforts after those million-dollar finds in the '80s and '90s." (Via WCIV)

 

Those legal proceedings have to do with the man who first discovered the ship in the late 1980s, Tommy Thompson. Fox News reports he's a fugitive on the run.

"Thompson reportedly sold salvaged gold bars and coins from the wreck at a California mint for $52 million before disappearing. He's now a wanted man accused of cheating his salvage team out of $2 million."

But in March, an Ohio judge cleared the way for new discoveries. 

And that's when Odyssey Marine Exploration stepped in. According to CBS, it's working on a full "pre-disturbance survey," and then it will go on an archaeological excavation to recover the rest of the gold. (Via Facebook / Odyssey Marine Exploration)

Odyssey's chief executive told The New York Times, "We want to show that it can be done right. It's a great opportunity."

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