Aug 19, 2010 9:07 pm US/Eastern
Gold Bar Worth $500K Stolen From Key West Museum
The bar was in an exhibit that allowed people to hold it without danger of theft, or so museum operators thought.
The insurance company is offering a $10 thousand reward
It was a piece of history worth half-a-million dollars that you could reach out and touch, part of the treasure from the galleon Santa Maria on display at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West. But where the bar used to be is now an empty exhibit. Apparently, someone managed to baffle security and walk off with their own personal treasure.
Wednesday afternoon, at 5:18 p.m., video security cameras recorded two suspects removing the bar from a case that had enabled museum visitors to touch and lift it, while keeping it secure.
Key West police and the FBI are working to identify the suspects who stole the bar, recovered from a wrecked 1622 Spanish galleon off the Florida Keys.
According to Alyson Crean, Key West Police spokeswoman, one suspect is described as a white male, about six feet tall with dark hair and a medium build. The second suspect is about five feet, six inches tall.
The 74.85-ounce bar had been on display at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum for more than 20 years and is worth about $550,000, according to museum officials.
It was recovered from the Santa Margarita shipwreck in 1980 by the late Key West shipwreck salvor Mel Fisher and his crew, while searching for the Margarita and Nuestra Senora de Atocha galleons.
The exhibit was a highlight of the museum tour because of the unique experience of holding gold worth so much, and for the historical value.
The gold bar is one of the most iconic and best known objects in the museum, according to Melissa Kendrick, the museum’s executive director. She said said the museum’s insurance company is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the return of the bar.
Fisher is best known for finding over 40 tons of silver and gold were located including over 100,000 Spanish silver coins known as “Pieces of Eight”, gold coins, Columbian emeralds, silver and gold artifacts and over 1000 silver bars, from the sunken ship Atocha in 1985.
The find eventually totaled almost half a billion dollars.