Robert Marx was born in Pittsburgh, PA on December 8, 1935. He was filled with wanderlust as a child and frequently ran far away from home in search of adventure, the first time at the age of eight. He did so so frequently that he was even sentenced to a juvenile detention farm for a year.
Lying about his age, Marx joined the Marines at the age of 17, just after the end of the Korean Wa, for a three-year hitch. He was stationed in Camp Lejeune, Noth Carolina, where he learned to scuba dive, and began diving the wrecks along the coast.
Marx searched for the USS Monitor, which had sunk on December 30, 1862. Indeed, at one point Marx thought he had found the wreck, and Life magazine did an article on the discovery. However, years later, North Carolina's State Underwater Archaologist, Gordon Watts, retraced Marx's efforts and found that the wreck had been a wooden steamer, USS Oriental, and the item that had resembled the famous turret was the vertical cylinder engine. (Watts would find the Monitor in 1977, about 17 miles SE of Cape Hatteras.)
Leaving the Marines, Robert headed for the Caribbean, where he moved from island to island in search of shipwrecks. He had done research on the location of the wreckas, but found that information inaccurate.
Robert decided to go to Seville, Spain to do research at the Archives of the Indies.
In addition to his treasure hunting activities, Robert decided he would write a book - a history of the entire Spanish fleet system.
A naval lieutenant from northern Spain contacted Robert. He had built a replica of the Nina, Columbus' smallest ship, and invited him to share the journey across the water to recreate Columbus' voyage to San Salvador. The ship was only 42 feet long. A crew of eight, including Robert who acted as pilot/navigator, made the crossing.
Robert had articles and photos of the crossing published in such magazines as The Saturday Evening Post and Argosy, and gave lectures. These helped finance his subsequent projects.
Robert attempted to sail the replica of a Viking ship from Yugoslavia (the replica had been used in a Hollywood film, Long Boats, and Robert had persuaded Columbia Pictures to donate the vessel in exchange for publicity.) Bad weather grounded the ship in Tunisia.
Robert, at the age of 29, dove the Serrano Bank in the western Caribbean searching for galleons. At the same time he was writing features about a sailor who'd been marooned there in 1528 for eight years. The Colombian government opposed his plan to excavate any wrecks, however.
Robert then contacted the Jamaican government, and rranged to excavate the sunken city of Port Royal (destroyed by earthquake in 1692.) Marx and a crew of Jamaicans excavated the city, which was buried in mud, for two and a half years.
Robert went to worrk for Kip Wagner's Real Eight Company. He signed a two-year contract with them, as Director of Research and Salvage. He hoped that Real Eight would allow him to use their salvage boat, the Grifon, to do his own searching, when they were not actively working on the 1715 wrecks off Florida, and they did so.
He, the Grifon, and her crew, therefore, went to Little Bahama Bank, searcing for the Maravilla. However, before the search was well under way, he was called back to his Real Eight duties for the next three months.
Robert continued to do research during the off-season, at the Spanish archives. There, he discovered that the 58 cannon carried on the Maravilla were bronze rather than iron, which is why they didn't show up on magnetometer surveys.
Robert becomes archaeology editor of Argosy, a position he will hold until December 1978.
Robert rerurned from Spain and made a few "abortive" attempts at the Maravilla without success.
In this year, Robert arranged with Real Eight for permission to use the Grifon and part of the Real Eight crew to search for the Maravilla.
Oceanographer Willard Bascomb arranged with Wall Street backers to finance the exhibition.
Robert and crew searched for the next four months, fourteen hours a day, without success. One of the crew suggested that the Maravilla was buried under a modern day wreck. Robert rejected this theory out of hand and the team returned to the States... but four days later he had reconsidered his decision and returned, but with only half the crew as before.
This time, however, they found what they were looking for - the Maravilla was indeed under the other wreck.
After excavating treasure for several more days, the ship returned to port. One of the crew stole two bags of silver coins worth $30,000. [He would later apprehended by police, but denied the theft, and there were no conseuqences.]
Whie the Grifon was in port, rival treasure hunters had moved in on Robert's find and started salvaging material for themselves. Upon hearing this news, Robert revictualed the ship and hurried back to the site.
(Burgess doesn't state if this rival ship was there when Marx reappeared.)
Robert continued to excavate the ship, using two teams of divers working six hours each.
As they worked, problems began to develop on land, in Nassau. Political changes had been made in the government - those who had approved Marx's project were no longer in power. In addition, the rival treasure hunters were pressuring these new authorities to give them possession of the wreck.
Robert went searching one day while othe other divers worked, and about two miles from that site, found what he believed to be the main section of the Maravilla. He marked the location and returned to the GRifon, where he learned via radio that a Bahamian police boat was heading in their direction - to arrest them and impound their boat. Robert quickly returned to his find and unmarked it, as he had no intention of helping his rivals.
The Grifon returned to Fort Pierce on its own, but was there arrested by the US Coast Guard, who had been informed that the ship was smuggling marijuana.
The Bahamians demanded the return of all the treasure that Marx's group had recovered, while the treasure hunters did not want to give up their hard-found artifacts.
The controversy became an international incident, with new Prime Minister Darrell Rolle, ordered the treasure hunters to return all items to Nassau within the week.
Marx did so, although when he then consulted the American Embassy, they told him that since the Maravilla was in international waters, the Bahamians had no say in the matter. But, eventually, the US backed down from siding with Marx. Burgess theorizes it was because the Bahamians threatened to remove access to the US missile tracking and Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard bases in the Bahamas.
April Fool's Day, 1974
On this day, 18 months after Robert Marx and his partner had been forced out of the Bahamas, the treasure and artifacts that had been found up until then were divided.
Robert becomes president of Sea World Enterprises, Inc., a position he will hold until June, 1976.
Whie others treasure hunters were given free reign to excavate the wreck now, none (as of Burgess's writing in 1988), had found the main section of the wreck as found by Marx on that fateful day.
Robert resigns the presidency of Sea World Enterprises, Inc., a position he had held from August, 1974.
February - October, 1978
Robert is the expedition leaeder for L.O.S.T., Inc.
Argosy magazine goes out of business.
January, 1979 - present
Robert becomes Director of Operations of Phoenician Explorations.
January, 1982 - present
Robert became president of Tanit Corporation.
Robert becomes president of Circle Bar Salvage of Louisiana, Inc., a position he will hold until December 1998.
Robert becomes managing director of Phoenician South Seas Exploration. He will hold the position until December 1995.
May 1988 - present
Robert became Archaeological Consultant to Seahawk Deep Ocean Technology.
Robert resigns the presidency of Circle Bar Salvage of Louisiana, Inc., a position had held from May 1984.
Robert became Archaeological Consultant to South East Asia Salvage, a position he will hold until March, 1991.
Robert, who had become Archaeological Consultant to South East Asia Salvage in December, 1989, resigns.
Robert becomes Curator and Director of the Port Royal Museum of Sunken Treasure, in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. He will hold the position until May 1996.
Robert, who had been managing director of Phoenician South Seas Exploration since September, 1986, resigned his position.
January 1996 - current
Robert signed on with Princess Cruise Lines to lecture on Historical and Archaeology, on selected cruises.
Robert, who had held the positio of Curator and Director of the Port Royal Museum of Sunken Treasure, in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida, since January 1993, resigns.
February 1997 - present
Robert became archaeological consultant to Africub Ltd., in Capetown, South Africa.
June, 1997 - present
Robert became the archaeological consultant for Last Galleon Inc.
June 1998 - present
Robert because the Maritime Historical Consultant for Simex Entertainment (Simulator Experience).
January, 1999 - present
Robert became Managing Director of Maritime Archaeological Partners, Inc.
February 1999 - present
Robert became president of Double Anchor Salvage Inc.
March l999 - present
Robert became the archaeological consultant for Neptune's Bounty.