SS Central America Coins Smuggled to Belize

Treasure hunter Tommy Thompson had a courier take 500 gold coins from his shipwreck-salvage company in Florida and deposit them in a trust account in Belize five years ago, his former assistant said in a deposition last week. (The Columbus Dispatch)

When now-infamous treasure hunter Tommy Thompson discovered the wreck of the Gold Rush-era SS Central America off the eastern seaboard in 1988, many expected the $150-million find would be the first of a storied career. Instead, it became a two decade nightmare of lawsuits, most stemming from Thompson’s alleged mishandling of company finances and payments.


And then Thompson went into hiding, failing to appear at a court hearing in 2012. A federal judge issued a warrant for his arrest, and US Marshals began the hunt; initially only finding a crumbling Florida mansion filled with disposable cellphones, wraps for now-missing cash, instruction manuals for disappearances and a bank statement under a false name.


Rumors abounded among interested parties. Some said he was in Nova Scotia, some South America, and it was generally agreed that he’d voluntarily disappeared (no foul play) and that he’d likely squirreled away a good portion of gold from the 1988 recovery.

My guess was that he’d never left Florida, that they’d find him in a trailer park somewhere, and that he’d definitely stolen coins in addition to his other funds.

They Got ‘Em |

Per the recent deposition, we now know at least 500 gold coins from his shipwreck stash were sent to Belize in 2010. Call it a $1.5 million dollar retirement fund (my very rough estimate); or at least it would have been if his girlfriend/assistant hadn’t admitted the stash. We’ll see what happens next… though Belize has strong asset protection laws, I’ll bet the court will get those coins back one way or another. Who gets them next is anybody’s guess, but the smart money is on the lawyers.


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