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Federal Motion Filed Against Odyssey Marine for S.S. Central America Recovery Effort

First Finders of Famous S.S. Central America Treasure Accuse Odyssey Marine of Trespassing, Ask Federal Marshals to Seize Recovered “Ship of Gold” Items

Federal court motions claiming misappropriation and trespass were filed on Thursday, May 15, 2014, against a Florida salvage company by the Ohio-based group that first discovered and recovered Gold Rush-era sunken treasure from the S.S. Central America, the fabled “Ship of Gold” that sank in 1857.

Columbus-America Discovery Group (CADG) claims that Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. is in violation of the law. CADG is asking that U.S. Marshals immediately seize all the treasure recently salvaged by Odyssey from the Central America. The recovered items currently are in Charleston, South Carolina, according to the court motions.

The S.S. Central America, a 278-foot long sidewheel steamer, was sailing from Panama to New York City with tons of California Gold Rush-era coins and ingots when it sank in a hurricane on September 15, 1857. There were 447 passengers and 101 crew members; 425 of them died when the ship sank.

odysseyrovIn addition to the human tragedy, the loss of the expected gold in New York led to the financial “Panic of 1857” that resulted in the closings of some banks and factories. A 1992 Life Magazine cover story proclaimed the recovered gold, “The greatest treasure ever found.”

During a scientific expedition in 1987, CADG originally located the wreck site in the Atlantic Ocean about 160 nautical miles off the coast of South Carolina and subsequently recovered thousands of gold coins and hundreds of gold ingots. CADG claims it still has the exclusive rights to that site and any retrieved gold and artifacts. CADG wants the federal court to reassert the company’s protected rights to any additional treasure found at the site.

The motions filed Thursday with the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, Virginia, ask that federal marshals seize the latest items and any future items recovered by Odyssey and turn them over to CADG. The items are believed to still be on board the vessel OSV Odyssey Explorer now docked in Charleston, South Carolina, according to CADG’s court filings.

“Columbus-America Discovery Group, which has done several previously impossible feats in the deep ocean and has been sued and challenged continuously for more than 20 years, is still fighting for its right to the deep ocean shipwreck site of the SS Central America,” said Milt Butterworth, CADG President.

“We are asking the court to uphold our permanent injunction, and allow CADG to fulfill its original purpose: to conduct multi-disciplinary research and develop sophisticated deep-ocean technology, and to locate, explore, and recover the remains of the S.S. Central America.,” Butterworth stated.

One of the court motions states: “On or about April 14th an expedition aboard the OSV ODYSSEY EXPLORER…intruded into the injuncted sea area without the Court’s knowledge and permission….”

centralamerica1The motion also states: “In order to protect its Court awarded rights and its maritime lien interest in any gold or artifacts recovered from the wreck of the S.S. CENTRAL AMERICA, it is imperative that CADG be authorized by the Court to have the U.S. Marshal execute a warrant in rem against these same artifacts….”

CADG claims that Recovery Limited Partnership and its contract-salvor Odyssey Marine Exploration “and any person aiding, abetting and/or assisting the violation of the rights and protections of CADG are interlopers, have engaged in acts of conversion, misappropriation of tangible and intellectual property rights, trespass, violation of CADG’s injunctive, possessor, salvage and other rights, and have violated the permanent injunction.”

At the time of publication of this article, representatives from Odyssey Marine Exploration have not responded to CoinWeek’s calls for comment.

Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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  1. I say take all of the items found so far and return to the wreck and dump ALL of it back into the ocean and tell CADG, “There it is…ALL of it! Now, you want it? Go retrieve it yourselves!

    • How would CADG recover anything without a boat or crew? And who is the “company” anyway other than Tommy Thompson’s brother in law and a lawyer just cited for committing a fraud upon the court? Who would fund them after what they stand accused of? Or is this just part of the short attack by a hedge fund who is trying to drive the share price of Odyssey Marine to zero? It will be interesting if the court requires CADG to make public their source of funding for this litigation.

      • If I remember correctly the guy who runs CADG looted the site and bilked investors, the same investors now working with Odyssey and the guy who runs CADG is wanted and on the run I believe.

        Odyssey stock OMEX is at new lows today.

        • I see the CADG lawyer Robol has been replaced, and yes Thompson is still a Federal Fugitive. They were just hit with a new action:
          The motion for Relief is this –


          None of this matters to Odyssey as they are working for the court and do not own any of the finds. After all this time it would be nice for the first investors to see a payday.

  2. I swing trade odyssey stock every time a fiasco like this surfaces, prior to this CADG incident I contacted Odyssey Corporate and immediately received a call back.

    Odyssey has been on Discovery Channel and we all know their pocketing undocumented treasures with every salvage so the failure to bring value to the stock is not supported by all the excuses but they have not dodged my calls in the past so I will contact them again and if any information is worth sharing I will do so.

  3. Follow up: I contacted Odyssey (Investor Relations) and urged them to make a press release to at least say something positive and let share holders know their still alive and working. To my pleasure Odyssey did just that, announcing they are still on the project and recovered more than expected Gold in the first dive, enough Gold to carry them through 2014 and possibly purchase another ship utilizing the latest technology.

    The press release caused a spike in the stock and I actually sold some shares for a nice profit. The share price has been slowly but steadily finding higher lows and higher highs which is good news if you own the stock.

    For my next feat I have requested permission to board the ship for the purpose of writing a more detailed story about the progress of current dives and what the future may hold. Still waiting ti see if they welcome me aboard or tell me to walk the plank.


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