Hook, Line, and Sinker

Warren Riess, an associate professor at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center, has followed treasure hunting with a skeptical eye ever since his friend, the late Peter Throckmorton, wrote a seminal 1990 paper about the industry, titled ‘The World’s Worst Investment.’ Riess says treasure-hunting outfits often include two key figures, the ‘head person, a slick salesman, someone very good at lying,’ and ‘somebody who’s taken a couple of history and archaeology courses’ but is touted as the world’s expert on his research subject. ‘They make money selling stock, live high off the fat of the stock, don’t find much, and tell the press they find a lot,’ Riess says. ‘Eventually—sometimes soon, sometimes after 20 years—they go bankrupt. They’ve had a great life—a house and boat and stuff.’
— Erick Trickey