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$550,000 gold bar stolen from Mel Fisher Museum

One of the most iconic and best-known objects' at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum was taken. The gold bar came from a 1622 Spanish galleon the Santa Margarita that Fisher discovered.
For 25 years, visitors to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida, had the opportunity to lift the glittery piece of treasure in a special display case.

The 5-pound bar gold bar was stolen on Wednesday from its secure Plexiglas enclosurein the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida, in what executive director Melissa Kendrick called "a very quiet smash and grab."

Footage from the museum's security camera clearly showed two culprits who made off with it, and the FBI and local police were investigating. The museum's insurer offered a $10,000 reward for its safe return, Kendrick said on Thursday.

Mel Fisher, a Key West treasure hunter who died in 1998, recovered the bar in 1980 from the wreck of the Santa Margarita, a Spanish galleon that sank off the Florida Keys during a hurricane in 1622. The ship was part of a flotilla carrying gold, silver, emeralds and pearls from the colonial New World back to Spain.

Fisher and his crew found the Atocha's motherlode in 1985, hauling up one of the world's greatest sunken treasures of gold, silver bars and coins, as well as jewelry, gems and housewares owned by the sailors, soldiers, noblemen and clergy who perished when the ship sank.

Two suspects
Key West Police and the FBI are trying to identify the two men who walked into the gallery room around 5:10 p.m. No visitors or security guards were present, but a video camera was.

Police had no suspects Friday afternoon, department spokeswoman Alyson Crean told CNN. "There's been progress but no changes."

Detectives believe one of the men served as a lookout in the small gallery room, she said. Investigators also are looking at fingerprints on the display case, but they may be of visitors unconnected to the heist.


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