Is Fool’s Gold Based on a True Story?

‘Fool’s Gold’ is a 2008 action-adventure romance film. It reunites Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, the team that delivered the superhit romantic comedy ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.’ ‘Fool’s Gold’ follows the divorced couple Ben “Finn” Finnegan (McConaughey) and Tess (Hudson), who spent most of their marital life looking for the Aurelia, a sunken Spanish galleon that went missing with the 1715 Treasure Fleet. Eventually, Tess became disillusioned and leaves Finn and treasure hunting.

However, Finn finds a clue that can lead him to the Aurelia and convinces Tess’ current boss, multi-millionaire Nigel Honeycutt, and his daughter Gemma to sponsor his search. Although Tess is reluctantly reeled back into the world of treasure hunting, she soon rediscovers her passion for it. Like most other movies and shows about lost treasures, ‘Fool’s Gold’ fills us with an almost insatiable need to know whether the treasure hunting depicted in the film and the history behind it have any real-life basis. Here is what you need to know about it.

Is Fool’s Gold Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Fool’s Gold’ is not based on a true story. Neither McConaughey nor Hudson’s character is based on a real-life individual. While the 1715 Treasure Fleet is real, there is no Aurelia among the identified ships. However, the character of Moe Fitch, who is Finn’s mentor and portrayed by Ray Winstone, is reportedly based on the legendary Mel Fisher, who discovered the wreckage of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, which sank in 1622 near Florida.

A native of Indiana, Fisher relocated to California and set up a diving shop there. He and his wife Dolores ran the business together and were pioneers of diving. In 1973, Fisher discovered silver bars in the Atocha wreckage. Two years later, his son Dirk found five canons with markings that prove that they are indeed from Atocha. However, tragedy struck the Fisher family shortly after. Dirk, his wife Angela, and diver Rick Gage were killed when their boat went down because of a malfunctioning bilged pump.

After spending decades without much success but still ardently believing his life’s motto, “Today’s the Day,” Fisher found the main pile of the Atocha with the help of his crew. The value of the cargo is estimated somewhere between $200 million and $400 million. It comprises 24 tons of silver bullion, ingots, and coins; over a thousand pounds of silverware, crucifixes, and other items; hundreds of high-quality emeralds; over two thousand lighter stones; and more than 250 pounds of gold bars, discs, and bits. And this is supposed to be only half of what Atocha had on board at the time of the sinking.

The Florida state made Fisher’s company hand over 25% of the treasure they brought to the surface to the state. Fisher’s company sued the state and got a verdict in their favor. Just like the Fitch-Finnegan Maritime Museum in the movie, where the treasures found on the Aurelia wreckage are displayed, Fisher’s discoveries are kept at Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum in Sebastian, Florida, and Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida. Evidently, it’s understandable if someone thinks that ‘Fool’s Gold’ is based on a true story, but that’s really not the case.

Read More: Where Was Fool’s Gold Filmed?