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Treasure Hunters

August 9, 2010 | By Faye Fiore, Los Angeles Times
When Paul Brachfeld took over as inspector general of the National Archives, guardian of the country's most beloved treasures, he discovered the American people were being stolen blind. The Wright brothers' 1903 Flying Machine patent application? Gone. A copy of the Dec. 8, 1941, "Day of Infamy" speech autographed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and tied with a purple ribbon? Gone. Target maps of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, war telegrams written by Abraham Lincoln, and a scabbard and belt given to Harry S. Truman?
Richard Steinmetz knew exactly what the federal marshals wanted when they pounded on his door: his nicotine-stained shipwreck treasure, the Alabama bell. For years the bell, a relic of the Confederate raider the CSS Alabama, sat in his antiques store in New York. In 1990, strapped for cash and facing heart surgery, Steinmetz put it up for auction. Then the feds came calling. "They accused me of stealing government property," Steinmetz says, wheezing in indignation when he recalls the scene.
August 10, 1987 | THOMAS H. MAUGH II, Times Science Writer
When the gold-laden steamboat Central America sank 160 miles off the South Carolina coast in a hurricane in 1857, it seemed like a tragic ending to a tale of greed and hubris. More than 400 men drowned, most of them prospectors dragged 8,000 feet to the Atlantic floor by the bounty they could not or would not let go of.
August 13, 2003 | Diane Haithman, Times Staff Writer
In 1981, Phil Greco gave up a traditional business career for a chance at a pot of gold. A self-described "messed-up kid" after a tour of duty in Vietnam, Greco, now 59, managed to pull his life together and launched a string of profitable international ventures involving large liquidations of heavy equipment stocks, such as trucks, tractors and bulldozers.
High-tech devices brought treasure hunters very close, but without luck and a sea gull's unwelcome visit, they might not have found two Spanish ships that had been sunk and lost for two centuries. Divers led by Ruben Collado were searching the shallow, rocky River Plate estuary in 1985 for the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Loreto when the gull relieved itself on one of the divers' boats.
March 5, 2014 | By Samantha Schaefer
The news of a Northern California couple's discovery of more than 1,400 gold coins hidden on their property has experts, history buffs and regular folks speculating on the treasure's origin. Though officials said it is unlikely the coins were stolen in a turn-of-the-century theft at the U.S. Mint in San Francisco, some wonder if the cache could be one of many believed buried by the  Knights of the Golden Circle . The secretive, subversive Confederate group is thought to have hidden millions in ill-gotten gold across a dozen states to finance a second Civil War. PHOTOS: California couple discovers cache of gold coins The coins very well could be a fortune buried by a wealthy businessman, but the time period, markers near the cache and manner in which the coins were buried fit the mold of the KGC, said Warren Getler, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who coauthored “Rebel Gold,” a book about the group.
August 24, 1989 | KATHRYN BOLD, Kathryn Bold is a regular contributor to Orange County Life
South Coast Auction in Santa Ana on a Wednesday night is no place for children. "There's a lot of pushing and shoving," cautions auctioneer Billy Humphries. "It's action-packed. Leave the kids at home." Humphries sounds as if he could be talking about mud wrestling, but the reason for his advice soon becomes evident. As 6 p.m. approaches, more than 500 treasure hunters are jamming the three warehouse-size auction rooms at 2202 Main St.
May 19, 2007 | Alan Zarembo and Karen Kaplan, Times Staff Writers
Deep-sea treasure hunters said Friday that they had recovered what could be a record haul of gold and silver coins from a colonial-era shipwreck -- but their failure to provide many details has set off a galleon-sized controversy over their claims. The hunters from Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., a Tampa, Fla.-based company, said their haul had so far totaled about 17 tons of coins, more than 500,000 in all.
Pushing on the throttle, the pilot guides his single-engine plane toward the icefall, nose aimed straight for the mountain. For a moment, everything swirls in a sea of white--the clouds, the ice, the snow. He doesn't think about what happened 51 years ago. He doesn't think about his reason for being here. Flying in near-whiteout conditions, he thinks only about maneuvering his little red-and-white Super Cub safely out of the canyon.
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