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Fugitive 'Ship of Gold' Treasure Hunter Nabbed in Florida After Two-Year Hunt

Tommy Thompson, who's accused of not paying back investors, made history in 1988 when he found the sunken S.S. Central America — or "Ship of Gold."
Bobby Thompson
In this November 1989 file photo, Tommy Thompson holds a $50 pioneer gold piece retrieved earlier in 1989 from the wreck of the gold ship Central America.The Columbus Dispatch via AP file

A fugitive treasure hunter embroiled in a legal fight over what's been described as the greatest lost treasure in American history has been arrested in Florida after more than two years on the lam, authorities said Wednesday. The U.S. Marshals Service tracked down Tommy Thompson at a hotel in Palm Beach County and arrested him Tuesday, said Brian Babtist, a senior inspector in the agency's office in Columbus, Ohio, where a federal civil arrest warrant was issued for him in 2012 after he failed to show up to a key court hearing.

Babtist said Thompson was arrested along with his longtime companion, Alison Anteiker, and the two were awaiting a hearing in Florida before they would be extradited to Ohio to appear before the judge who issued a warrant for their arrests. Thompson made history in 1988 when he found the sunken S.S. Central America, also known as the Ship of Gold. In what was a technological feat at the time, Thompson and his crew brought up thousands of gold bars and coins from the shipwreck. Much of that was later sold to a gold marketing group for about $50 million.

Thompson is accused of using more than $12 million from investors to fund the search, but those investors say were never paid back. A years-long legal battle involving insurance companies and investors ensued, a fight that those close to Thompson say was his undoing. Thompson went into seclusion in 2006, and six years later, just after the arrest warrant was issued, he vanished.



— The Associated Press