CINCINNATI — Tampa's Odyssey Marine Exploration has recovered thousands of gold and silver coins and more than 40 heavy gold bars easily worth millions of dollars, say unsealed court documents that provide the first detailed inventory of a treasure trove being resurrected from an 1857 shipwreck at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
The recovery effort at the SS Central America, about 200 miles off the South Carolina coast, began in April and is expected to continue throughout the summer.
The operation is being led by treasure hunter Tommy Thompson, who found the Central America in 1988 in what was then a monumental achievement that was funded by a group of central Ohio investors.
Immediately after finding the ship and recovering a fraction of its garden of gold, Thompson became embroiled in a decades-long legal battle over who had rights to the treasure and how it was being dispersed.
Meanwhile, the Central America and its gold sat untouched since 1991, the last time Thompson and his team were at the site.
The new recovery operation was made possible after an Ohio court appointed a receiver over some of Thompson's companies, and he awarded a contract to conduct the efforts to Odyssey.
The inventories, unsealed by a federal judge in Virginia late Wednesday, show that Odyssey has brought up 43 solid gold bars, 1,300 $20 double eagle gold coins and thousands more gold and silver coins.
Odyssey could not provide an estimate of what the gold is worth, but it's easily in the millions of dollars, based on past sales of such items.