Digging for Gold in the Stock Market

Our family used to vacation at a beach house on Topsail Island N.C. Edward Teach, aka Edward Drummond, aka Blackbeard, was rumored to frequent the area (he lived in Bath, N.C), and the Wiki entry speaks to the history of its name:

“Topsail Island is supposedly derived from its nefarious history. According to popular belief, pirates once hid in the channel between the island and the mainland waiting for passing ships. The topsail was supposedly the only part of the pirate ship that could be seen by the passing ‘victim’ until it gave chase. There is a legend that Blackbeard hid his treasure on Topsail Island and it is still being searched for today.”

Visions of searching for hidden treasure and pieces of eight filled our vacations there. I spent many a day combing the beach for signs of doubloons, but the closest I came was finding loads of sharks teeth – I and can remember filling up entire mason jars full of them (not so comforting when you’re swimming).

While dreams of becoming a treasure hunter have faded over the years (insert astronaut, NFL quarterback, etc) I remember reading an article a few years back in some magazine regarding “dream jobs”. One such job was treasure hunter, and the profile was Mel Fisher. Mel Fisher passed away in 1998, but was the architect of the largest treasure find ever – the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which sank in a hurricane off the Florida Keys in 1622. Fisher found it in 1985, and retrieved a reported $400M in coins and other booty. Still have the treasure hunting itch? The operation is still ongoing, and you can download their diver application here. Some more background here:

Bounty of the Deep
The Billion Dollar Boat

and a book on the search, “Fatal Treasure”
and a DVD on the search, “Treasure! The Search for the Atocha”

What does any of this have to do with investing? Explorers from Odyssey Marine Exploration (publicly traded OMR) announced today that they have found what could be the richest shipwreck treasure in history – 17 tons of colonial era silver and gold coins worth an estimated $500M. Article here.

Interestingly enough, a number of hedge funds own the stock, including DE Shaw, Fortress, Goldman Sachs, and the apt named Galleon. . .I’m off to San Francisco for the weekend for the annual Bay to Breakers “race”. . .have a great weekend to all!