In 1985, after nearly 17 years of searching, noted treasure hunter Mel Fisher and his team found the Atocha, a Spanish galleon that had sunk off the coast of Key West, Fla. in 1622. The treasures found aboard the ship were valued at $450 million, which comes out to about $1 billion today.
Fisher's son, Kim, was a member of the crew that discovered the Atocha and spoke to HuffPost Live on Thursday about his historic find.
"It was a substantial find," he told host Ricky Camilleri. "We found about 40 tons of silver, and then a lot of other neat things -- gold and gold bars and gold chains and jewelry. It was valued at the time at $450 million, back in 1985."
There were many unique items the treasure hunters found on the ship. "You find the pieces of eight gold doubloons, and then you find stuff you never dreamed about finding, like that gold chalice. The bulk of the silver was in these 80-pound silver bars." Kim added. "We found about 1,000 of these 80-pound silver bars."
After discovering the ship, Mel and his team became embroiled in a legal controversy over who owned the loot. Ultimately, the Supreme Court intervened.
"When we found the Atocha, the state of Florida and the federal government both claimed ownership. Spain didn't make any claim to it," Kim said. "We fought in court for 8 years -- it went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court -- and the end result was 'finder's keepers.' So we got it all."
Though most of the $450 million payday went to the crew's investors, Fisher did receive enough to ensure that he could retire if desired.
"A lot of it went out to our investors. It took a lot of money through all those years to find it, so our investors got the bulk of the treasure, but we did keep a beautiful collection here. We have it here in our museum in Key West, but we also have a lot of happy investors," he explained.
"I could've retired, but it's too much fun."
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