Sunday, November 07, 2004


Historian joins treasure hunt


Shipwreck expert will help recover riches with Morton man in Ecuador

MORTON - When locally based treasure hunter Scott Heimdal returns to Ecuador to search for sunken Spanish galleons, he'll count perhaps the greatest living authority in that field of enterprise as a teammate.

"I'm going to make sure he finds the wreck" he seeks and probably others of its kind resting nearby, Robert Marx said this week. "I'm not a treasure hunter, I'm a treasure finder."

Marx, 71, of Indiatlantic, Fla., backs up that statement with a career resume that lists 3,000 historic shipwrecks discovered worldwide over five decades, including several of the richest treasure finds in the modern era of underwater exploration.

He literally wrote the "how-to" book on the subject, along with 58 others, including his recently published autobiography, "In the Wake of the Galleons." An accomplished shipwreck historian and archaeologist, Marx began his career in the military as director of the U.S. Marine Corps Diving School.

His role as an active collaborator with RSOperations LLC., (RSOPS) the company Heimdal has formed to recover treasures lost at sea hundreds of years ago, adds a boatload of skills and talents to the venture, Heimdal said.

In September, Heimdal, a Peoria native now living in Morton, went public with plans he and several RSOPS partners have made to search for sunken galleons in a 98-square-mile area off the coast of Ecuador in northwest South America.

With a contract bearing that country's permission and an agreement to evenly share whatever treasures are found, RSOPS is seeking about $500,000 from private investors to begin the work. The company's raised a quarter of that so far and, "I expect to be in Ecuador by January," Heimdal said.

Heimdal, 42, received nationwide attention 14 years ago when he was kidnapped by rebel guerrillas who crossed from neighboring Columbia into the Ecuadorian jungle, where Heimdal was helping to start a gold-mining company.
When the company's owner refused to pay a $1 million ransom, Heimdal's parents appealed to fellow Peorians, who donated about $100,000 that bought his release.

Like Marx, Heimdal has devoted his life to shipwreck discovery, with an emphasis on archaeological preservation of the finds. According to his research, RSOPS' search field holds the wreck of the Clarius, a galleon that sank in 1594 with millions of dollars in gold, silver and jewels and bound from present-day Peru to Panama, and then to Spain.

Now semi-retired, Marx said he joined RSOPS because he's "real confident" of Heimdal's research and of the investment company's legitimacy. He will add his own research and discovery expertise to the venture.

"Nobody's ever worked in that (RSOPS search) area that I know of and, believe me, I'd know," he said. "Before I go visit the angels, I need another big find under my belt."

Further information on RSOPS and Heimdal's search can be found at

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