Silver and gold bars, emeralds and pearls are just a few of the items to be auctioned off from the estate of famed diver and treasure hunter Mel Fisher.
STORY: "Today's the day!" was a famous treasure hunter's saying, and on Wednesday (August 05), collectors looking for their own treasure find will get to bid on silver and gold bars and emeralds and pearls from the estate of explorer Mel Fisher. "We're standing in front of a collection that was discovered in the early 1980s as part of the most famous treasure discovery that the world has ever known," explained Arlan Ettinger, the President of Gurnsey's Auction House. "If you were around back then, the name Mel Fisher, who was the most intrepid, passionate, focused, dedicated treasure hunter ever, had developed techniques to be able to go beneath the floor of the ocean and for many, many years, his research indicated that there were Spanish galleons that had sunk off the coast of Key West and he was determined to discover what treasure they held," said Ettinger. After a 16-year-search, Mel Fisher and his crew found the mother lode of a shipwreck in September 1985 from Nuestra Senora de Atocha, a Spanish galleon that has yielded one of the greatest treasures ever recovered from the sea. They hauled up more than 40 tons of gold and silver, including more than 100,000 Spanish silver coins known as "Pieces of Eight," along with Colombian emeralds and other artifacts. Its worth is estimated at nearly $500 million (USD). The Atocha was headed back to Spain with a load of gold and silver from the New World when it sank and broke up in a hurricane not far from Key West in September 1622. Fisher died in 1998. Ettinger was contacted several months ago by Fisher's children who wanted to honor the will of Fisher's wife, Dolores (Deo) Fisher, who died six years ago. Deo Fisher was also Fisher's business partner and had managed his estate. The family had retained some of the items from the wreck that were never before seen. "The gold and emerald cross is magnificent. And then there were, I believe the number, about 12,000 pearls, natural pearls that were discovered in the wreckage and the two largest and presumably most valuable of those are here too and those are quite breathtaking. So those are just a few of the items that strike my fancy." Deo Fisher's will stated that she wanted the items sold with a portion of the money going to the Have a Heart Foundation, which places defibrillators in U.S. public schools. Mel and Deo Fisher's grandson, Michael Abt Jr., was a 12-year old boy who died of sudden cardiac arrest while in school. The Fishers believed that if the school had a defibrillator, he might have lived.