• "The knowledge that a secret exists is half of the secret." – Joshua Meyrowitz

  • Capt. Bayerle was referred to as a "modern day pirate" (in the complimentary sense) by Judge Nancy Gertner of the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts in a 2005 opinion granting exclusive salvage rights to the Republic to MVSHQ.

  • "She was one of the elite luxury liners of her day, known as the `Millionaires´ Ship´ for all the wealthy and prominent figures she carried." – The Tsar's Treasure

  • "Shipwreck may hold $1.6 Billion." – Los Angeles Times

  • "[The] truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is." – Sir Winston Churchill

  • "Several billion dollars in gold may lie in 270 feet of water about 50 miles south of Nantucket, and it all belongs to Martin Bayerle." – The Martha's Vineyard Times

  • "Republic was the largest and most technologically advanced vessel lost at sea in history to her time." – The Tsar's Treasure

  • "[Captain Bayerle's] Fishing off Nantucket for Ship, History and $1.6B" – The Boston Globe

  • "A `Palatial' Steamer. The new twin-screw steamer 'Republic' 15,400 tons ... will stand comparison with anything afloat for the excellence, comeliness, and comfort of passenger accommodation. The 'Republic' is a vessel which calls for distinct mention among many notable craft." – White Star Line booklet, circa 1908

  • "Almost immediately upon Republic's sinking came rumors, rumors of a lost treasure that was aboard her. A treasure of over $3 million in gold coins, a treasure that today, may be worth well over a billion dollars." – The Tsar's Treasure

  • "A billion dollar treasure: The answer is waiting off Nantucket." – The Martha's Vineyard Times

  • "Capt. Bayerle has written what must be among the best researched and tantalizing adventure narratives in quite some time... I applaud his ability to fuse history with death-defying deep sea exploration." – Robert Cembrola, Maritime Archeologist and Director of the Naval War College Museum


The Millionaires’ Ship Museum to honor the Republic will be more than just an exhibition of artifacts; it will be a complete treasure hunting experience. Visitors will be able to explore the lavish life aboard a state-of-the-art luxury liner of more than 100 years ago. They’ll walk down the wharf and up the narrow walks to board the palatial luxury liner Republic as she finishes loading baggage and cargo into her holds. They will get to experience the dense fog, with the deep bellow of the Republic’s horn blowing intermittently. They will be there for the terrifying crash, witnessing the hull of the Florida slam into the side of the Republic and tear open a great gash. They’ll be among the panicked passengers emerging from their berths, waiting for instructions from Captain Sealby. Then visitors will wait alongside Jack Binns in the cold, windowless Marconi room, as the sparks fly wildly and crack like miniature thunder as he firmly taps away at the new wireless device, sending “CQD” signals into the ether to any other ships that could listen. Binns never left his post for more than 24 hours in the bitter cold, eventually being declared a national hero for his valiant efforts in the greatest open-sea rescue in history. Finally the wealthy passengers will be ushered aboard the crippled Florida, then again on the Baltic, being told to lock their staterooms and leave all their belongings behind which they could recover once the powerless, “practically unsinkable” Republic was towed back to the U.S. Coast.

Once visitors experienced the drama of the wreck and major open sea rescue, they will get to know the major historical figures of the time. They’ll get an introduction to the Great White Fleet, and learn what it was like to be a sailor traveling around the world on an unprecedented cruise. They’ll rub elbows with Teddy Roosevelt and his close advisors, Elijah Root and Admiral Sperry. They’ll take a trip to Russia and see the effects of a crippled world power and a Tsar that is struggling to hold up his nation’s economy. And finally they’ll get to witness the devastation firsthand of the most powerful earthquake to strike Europe in recorded history, witnessing the rush of survivors to search for family members and hop on board the Florida, seeking a new, better life in America. And then the real mystery begins.

Visitors will hear the hushed talk, and see the documented reports of a mysterious gold cargo that went down with the ship. Then they’ll sift through the highlighted facts, and the documents, wondering why there are missing pages in reports, why these popular political figures refuse to address the disaster, why the government failed to hold an inquiry on the biggest ship to sink in history despite one mandated by law. They’ll get hit with all kinds of questions, but no real answers.

Finally they’ll get a crack at the actual shipwreck. Models will be constructed showing the ship as she likely looked the moment she hit the bottom. Then they will progress as the wear and tear of the rough North Atlantic works to collapse her decks and attract thousands of sea creatures that make the wreck their home. Then we’ll get a glimpse of the 1981 expedition that located her, and begin to learn what it is like to go on a treasure hunt in search of a sunken ship. We can show the model of the actual side-scan sonar used, and how it works by bouncing frequency off the bottom of the ocean and recording shadows on the plotter. And we’ll see the actual prints of the shadow of the wreck as she lay on the bottom after the days of searching.

And then we’ll start to see the newspaper clippings of the hunt, the actual proposals used to raise the money, essentially an introductory course to the business aspects of treasure hunting: Treasure Hunting 101. Next we’ll go on board the salvage ship, SOSI Inspector, and meet the saturation divers who live in a pressurized environment that look like giant cigars resting on the deck of the salvage ship. We’ll check out the ROV, and see footage of it crawling over the ocean bottom, and we’ll meet the big crane responsible for muscling up and moving huge chunks of debris.

Finally we’ll make the dive on the Republic ourselves, feeling the water getting colder and darker as we descend into the foreboding north-Atlantic. And then we’ll capture a glimpse of the rusted hull covered in orange and white sea anemones, and see the other divers in bulky suits and metal helmets cutting with a torch through the bulky hull, and finally filling up the big mechanical grab that is pulled back to the surface by the crane and the debris sorted on deck. We’ll see old toilets, bottles, shoes, cups, all sorts of things reminiscent from when we started our museum tour back in 1909. We’ll see all the major interviews and newspapers, the worldwide coverage following the 1987 effort.

But we’ll soon realize that we had essentially been going into the salvage blindly, without the construction plans of the wreck to consult, which we’ll learn are also mysteriously missing from the grasp of the public. And after all that work, we’ll only hit the wine room before the weather worsens and the salvage window for the summer diving season comes to a close. Then as other events intervene, our familiar story and quest for the gold becomes neglected and ignored for years, before a legendary and ambitious team of explorers is formed over three decades later. The visitors are then ready for the final chapter.

The visitors are held in waiting before they get to experience the grand conclusion, before they get to complete the journey and venture into the lost specie room, before they find the secrets that the biggest political players in the world had kept for more than a century, until now. And then they’ll see it, a sampling of the gold, gleaning, illuminated in the center of the dark room, and they’ll witness the preservation of real artifacts from the wreck in tanks being worked on by resident archeologists. Then all the visitors will finish with that unmistakable feeling, the feeling of what it’s like to challenge history, the feeling of what it’s like to be a treasure hunter, the feeling of what it’s like to go on a journey as a real modern-day pirate. The museum for the Millionaires’ Ship will be our chance to share an experience and opportunity that most people can only dream about.

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Etoile Blanc Consulting