Museum That Lets Visitors Handle Gold Directly Has Gold Stolen

A 74-ounce gold bar that was salvaged from the ocean floor in 1980 was stolen from the Mel Fisher museum last week. It’s valued at $550,000, and it was kept on display in a special case that let visitors stick their hands in to lift it. Supposedly the case was designed to prevent any removal of the bar, but somehow a guy managed to pull it out and put it in his pants pocket before walking out. The insurance company is offering a $10,000 reward for its return.

“No arrests yet in theft of gold bar from museum” [CNN]


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  1. GuJiaXian says:

    Seems like this could have been avoided by installing those “rubber gloves” like you always see in Hollywood biohazard cases (where the “doctor” sticks his/her hands into the gloves to handle the stuff inside the container).

    • Mecharine says:

      But then how do you feel the goldiness of the gold?

    • domcolosi says:

      Hollywood? It’s called a glovebox. It’s real.

      • GuJiaXian says:

        Oh, I know they’re real. It’s just that you always seem them overused in the “escaped virus turns humankind into ravenous zombies” sort of Hollywood tripe.

        • domcolosi says:

          True. They’re more often used in the “omg this crappy thing I made will decompose in air so I’m going to fill a bag with argon and make a huge mess and spend lots of money and make the lab manager clean it all up” sort of way.

          Not that I have any experience with such.

  2. SlayerGhede says:

    If it was pure or mostly pure gold, dude could have just bent it. If it wasn’t, You’d be surprised how many people forget to include the corners in their “Can’t turn this around” calculations.

    • DariusC says:

      Im suprised there was no weight alarm or something similar for something worth half a million dollars. That’s kind of a big deal… And the insurance company offering 10k IS LAUGHABLE! I can keep it for 550k, why return for less than 1% of the value?

      • Bremma says:

        Well, to be fair, a weight alarm on a piece of gold you can touch and lift wouldn’t be too bright. Regardless, assuming the price of gold is 16.15 per oz, the bar is only worth a little over 1k itself. The 550k estimate is it’s value to history it seems.

        • bonzombiekitty says:

          Don’t need a weight alarm, but it would make sense to tie a wire or something to the bar so that it sets off an alarm if it’s broken or removed from the bar.

        • katarzyna says:

          Gold is ~$1200 US per ounce. It’s 74 ounces, so about $89,000.

          • Bremma says:

            Oh christ, really? I just did a quick search and did the first figure I found, since I don’t regularly look up the cost of gold. My bad! Though the calculation I found would be about what he’d get from a gold buyer I’d imagine. Sorry for the poor math!

          • Captain Packrat says:

            It’s only 16.5 karat (which is 68.75% pure). At the current spot price of $1236.60, that comes to $63,634.66.

        • DariusC says:

          Darn! I need my coffee!

          But yeah, you get what I mean… the security measures suck and the reward sucks even worse! If I got the gold from the person who stole it, why return it? Why not just sell it and pay off your debt?

        • Chmeeee says:

          Congratulations, you’re off by two orders of magnitude.

      • chucklesjh says:

        Also, that’s 1.82%, not less than 1% ;-)

      • notovny says:

        The person who gets the reward presumably isn’t going to be the person who stole it; the person who stole it is going to get prosecuted unless he works out a deal in advance.

      • trentblase says:

        But a weight alarm is easily defeated by a bag of sand, even when combined with a crushing boulder defense system.

  3. DariusC says:

    Seriously? LOL! I give an A+ to this guy for pulling it off! Of course he just ruined it for the rest of us… no more touching gold now :(

    Still laughing at the irony…

    • eccsame says:

      Nothing ironic to see here, please move along.

      • DariusC says:

        Museum that lets visitors handle gold directly has gold stolen.

        That sounds ironic to me. The museum that made the move to let visitors touch gold got the gold they let the visitors touch stolen.

        • trentblase says:

          Irony is usually associated with the unexpected (e.g., fire station burns down = unexpected because they put out fires). The result with the museum is completely expected. Therefore, it’s not very ironic. Almost the opposite.

        • rav3 says:

          ironi would be museum that lets you handle gold gets 3 bars of lead they dont allow you to touch stolen. Why is it ironic? because normally you would expect the gold to be stolen not the iron bars. and just to make it extra ironic, the iron bars had better security

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      LOLwhut? The economy is not so bad yet that touching gold is nothing but an unattainable dream. For a mere 1300 dollars I’ll even send you a Krugerrand of your very own to fondle.

    • seishino says:

      “no more touching gold now”

      No wedding proposals?

  4. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    And the robbers sent it to Cash4Gold and got about $13.50 for it.

    • says:

      He made an important contribution to his investment portfolio. G. Gordon Liddy would be pround.

  5. econobiker says:

    With people sawing the catalytic converters off of cars with cordless saber saws in broad daylight nowadays, how does this type of theft surprise anyone?

    Also $10,000 for a $550,000 chunk? I think they need to step up the reward.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Damn, .07 of an ounce of platinum is worth that much to deface a car like that? I’d go for the HID headlights, which usually fetch $500 on the street.

      • Tongsy says:

        the problem with that is that you can’t hide under a car to take the headlights off the car like you can with the catalytic converter

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          They must be using a saber saw with a silencer/spark suppressor, right?

          • DorsalRootGanglion says:

            Depending on where you live, a saber saw may be one of the quieter things operating during the day.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          SUVs and trucks have been targeted where I live because the criminals can can crawl under them without jacks or a lift. Three vehicles were hit at my office’s parking lot a few months ago. According to the officer who responded, he said they can get them off in just a couple of minutes.

      • econobiker says:

        Scrap recyclers pay cash money for the scrap plus resale of the converter as “new” by unscrupulous repair shops amps up the return big time. Pay a meth head $40 and resell as “new” for $500-$800.

        Plus you can’t go to junkyards anymore for converters since they recycle them for the money plus they claim that laws would require them to certify the converter for 80,000 miles prior to sale.

    • david0mp says:

      10% finder’s fee, right?

    • Kitamura says:

      Someone pointed out in the thread above that the 550k quoted is a price on it’s historical value (and to get that price you’d have to find a collector willing to take on a hot item). It’s price as actual gold is only in the 89k range. So 10k seems a bit low, but not nearly as absurd as if the bar were actually worth that much.

  6. jshier says:

    Is that a gold bar in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

    • Doubts42 says:

      and if that is a gold bar in your pants i am happy to see you.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        If that’s a 74-ounce gold bar in your pants pocket, putting more than four and a half pounds of pressure on the stitching, your tailor will be happy to see you, too.

        • Coelacanth says:

          If the pressure was caused by a 74-ounce gold bar, something tells me he’ll be able to afford the tailor’s “special rate.” :)

  7. Harmodios says:

    I was at that museum two years ago. My wife and I really like Key West. I actually told her, I could wiggle it out of the case. The bar is sits within the plastic box, but by turning it sideways you could slip it out. I decided not to do it in the end. lol

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I would have done it just to show them it could be done. Then maybe they would have designed a better case.

    • Sword_Chucks says:

      Its always the honest people who lose out. Looks like you and I made the same mistake. Better luck next time.

  8. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    For all you know-nothings who think gold is around sixteen dollars an ounce and therefore the entire bar is worth roughly 1K (I name no names):

    The current bid price of gold (i.e. the amount you actually could sell it for if you sold it) is 1212.40 dollars per troy ounce, or about 90 times the other commenter’s estimate. Reference:

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      What K is this gold bar?

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      I’m assuming they melt down the bar and get something like an acceptable purity. But the final price would be closer to 1K per ounce, not for the whole bar.

    • says:

      The fact that it was recovered from “an ancient Spanish ship” increases the value, I would think. ;)

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Of the bar as an object, not of the gold itself. Nobody would sell this without melting it down first, unless they were in a James Bond movie and had a sufficiently deep-pocketed criminal mastermind with a taste for not particularly attractive gold sticks.

  9. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    How long till this ends up on Pawn Stars?

    ::Off camera:: I’d LOVE to have it in my shop, but only if i can get it at the right price.

    ::In the shop:: So seriously I’ll give you like $500 bucks for it. No? OK, let me call up a buddy of mine he’s an expert in these kinds of things, and we’ll go from there

    • theycallmeGinger says:

      Thank you for summing up every Pawn Stars episode. Don’t forget Chumlee’s crazay antics!

    • CPC says:

      Pawn Stars actually showed a bar like this a few months ago. The retail value was about $38-40k. The seller got about $30k from the shop.

  10. zibby says:

    I’m offering $20,000 for its return. To me.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      I can top that by offering 50K for it. Of course, I’d have to pay in gold….

  11. absurdist says:

    “The insurance company is offering a $10,000 reward for its return.”

    I’ll offer double that.

  12. Jfielder says:

    Hey, I’ve lifted that gold bar!

    I’m impressed it didn’t pull the guys pants down… It’s damn heavy.

  13. Sword_Chucks says:

    You mean, there wasn’t a security guard or camera on the item? Sounds like its asking to be taken – no screaming, in this economy. Without a guard or camera, it sounds like neglect to me, insurance shouldn’t cover it.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Did you watch the security video on this page? If not, then no, there was no security video.

  14. diasdiem says:


  15. evnmorlo says:

    Amateur. I stole it years ago replaced it with a spray-painted bar of lead.

  16. Hobz says:

    You would think they would have installed a camera just in case?

  17. chefguru says:

    Someone’s getting fired!

  18. zephyr_words says:

    Just FYI: They aren’t offering 10K for the return of the bar they are offering 10K for information leading to the arrest of the individuals. (According to the video)

  19. Dutchess says:

    I’ve been to that museum it’s small but very cool.

    The gold chain the have is amazing. I believe it was used as a dowry and people would actually twist a link off the chain when they needed some money.

    These guys will be caught soon I bet.

  20. Mcshonky says:

    APB on glenn beck……

  21. Buckus says:

    Nicholas Cage wouldn’t happen to be involved in some way, would he? I hear there’s a treasure map on the gold bar….

  22. Moosenogger says:

    Good luck selling it, dude. I don’t think any sane person would buy a gold bar from you unless they were a mythical pirate. (In which case they’d just take it from you and slit your throat, anyway.)

  23. A.Mercer says:

    So Cash4Gold has gone on the offensive. Show up and just take the stuff.

  24. White Scorpion says:

    If they were smart, a plane would be waiting for them at the Key West airport for departure to a foreign country.

  25. shockwaver1 says:

    The Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg has a large pure gold brick on display, open on a pedestal. It is attached to the pedestal with a chain, but more importantly it is guarded at all times by someone with a gun.

    As a side note, it weighs a lot more then 74 ounces and would be a bitch to hide in your pants.