Greg Stem has made millions liberating treasure from shipwrecks, with many accusing him of bounty hunting. He claims, however, that he is just preserving history.
In 2003, OME discovered the American Civil War-era SS Republic, 1,700 ft below sea level, 100 miles southeast of Savannah, Georgia. The 14,000 objects that were subsequently recovered from the paddlewheel steamship, along with 51,000 gold and silver coins, have so far netted more than £29 million in salvage fees and sales, one of the richest treasure hauls ever. A year earlier, Stemm signed a deal with the British Government to dive on HMS Sussex, an 80-gun English warship that was lost in 1664 off the coast of Gibraltar. OME believes that its cargo has “a potentially-substantial numismatic value”.