(2006 photo of Bob Marx signing one of his books.)
Robert "Bob" Marx is one of the best-known underwater treasure hunters and archaeologists in the U.S. He's also a prolific writer on all aspects of these two pursuits as well as buried treasures on land. Here's more on Bob's treasure hunting bio:
Marx Goes to Work for Kip Wagner
At 29 years of age, Bob Marx began doing some serious diving in the western Caribbean in 1964. He was searching for Spanish treasure galleons and the time he had spent earlier researching the Spanish maritime archives in Seville, Spain had served him well.
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Eventually Marx ended up working for famed treasure hunter Kip Wagner whose "Real Eight" Company was heavily involved in recovering a vast trove of Spanish silver and gold and artifacts from 1715 treasure fleet wrecks just off the Florida coast.
Bob was hoping that Wagner would allow him to use one of "Real Eight's" recovery vessels, the Grifon, and its crew to search for the Maravilla, a Spanish galleon wrecked on or near Little Bahama Bank. Marx was able to search a short while for the Maravilla, but was called back to Florida when things heated up on the 1715 wreck sites.
Marx Finds the Maravilla
Around this same time Bob became the editor of Argosy magazine which was targeted toward explorers, adventurers, and treasure hunters. Not long afterward, Marx went back to Seville once again to do additional research in the Spanish maritime archives.
This research enabled Marx to eventually locate the wreck site of the Maravilla, once again using Kip Wagner's Grifon and about half of the vessel's original crew. However, Marx's joy at finding the Spanish treasure galleon was short lived.
A Curse Instead of a Blessing
In some respects Bob's finding of the Maravilla and its treasure and historic artifacts proved a curse instead of a blessing. Right off the bat, one of his crew stole two large bags of Spanish silver coins recovered from the wreck. At the time, this cost Marx around $30,000...you can only imagine what those same coins would be worth today with the high price of numismatics and precious metals.
(Spanish "pieces of eight" from the Maravilla.)
Next rogue treasure hunters moved in on part of the Maravilla wreck site while the Grifon was resupplying in port. The rogues stole an unknown amount of "goodies" from the site but beat feet for parts unknown when Marx and the Grifon's crew returned.
Clowns, Idiots, and Thieves
Finally, problems with the police as well as behind the scenes pressure on the Bahamian government by treasure hunting rivals forced Marx and the Grifon's crew off the Maravilla wreck site for good. To add insult to injury, when the Grifon returned to Fort Pierce, Florida the U.S. Coast Guard arrested everyone due to false information about the Grifon being used as a marijuana smuggling vessel.
After a series of protracted legal and political battles, Marx was forced to divvy up his Maravilla treasure recoveries with the Bahamian government in 1974. What had begun as an earnest, well-researched underwater treasure hunt on Bob's part had turned into a three-ring circus replete with clowns, idiots, and thieves.
There's more to come on Bob Marx. Stay tuned.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "The Oldtimers Knew How to Get the 'Goodies' (Part 1)"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2011
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