The Lagina Brothers’ Search for Oak Island’s Enigmatic Treasure became an Enduring Passion

Published: Oct 05, 2023

Oak Island – a small, nondescript island off the southern coast of Nova Scotia, Canada – may not be of interest to the casual spectator. However, if you delve a little deeper, you’ll find that the location has great historical significance and has been the subject of numerous documentaries. The reason? Oak Island has been the scene of a treasure hunt for nearly two centuries.

The mysterious “Money Pit” on Oak Island has supplied countless hours of conjecture and hope to generations of treasure hunters. However, brothers Marty and Rick Lagina claim to have cracked the code of Oak Island’s intriguing mystery, and the question on everyone’s mind is whether the island has really surrendered its secrets to these two men. Read on to unlock the mystery. 

The Lagina Brothers

These guys have been obsessive treasure hunters since childhood, so it was only a matter of time before they were lured in by the promise of Oak Island. Ricky, in fact, discovered a massive granite rock in his hometown of Kingsford when he was just ten years old.


Since that moment, Marty and Rick Lagina have dedicated their lives to solving enigmas, and Oak Island has been their biggest project yet. Uncovering its hidden secrets will, they hope, lead them to a treasure that will mark the end of their journey.


How the Legend Started

In 1799, the mythology of Oak Island began. Three teenage lads – Daniel McGinnis, Anthony Vaughn, and John Smith – were out on a fishing expedition when they discovered a depression in the ground after coming ashore for supplies. When they looked inside the peculiar dip, the dirt was notably loose, in contrast to the hard-packed ground around it.


The young men deduced that something must have been buried beneath the nearby tree after discovering a five-meter pit beneath it. They embarked on a decade-long search that was ultimately fruitless.

The Famous Money Pit

A few pieces of gold were discovered at an Oak Island excavation site in the early 21st century. The Truro excavation team ran into problems when water from the sea flooded the hole where the treasure was hidden. The work involved in keeping the dig going was so intense that they eventually ran out of money and had to halt.


The Oak Island Association was tasked with draining the Money Pit. However, their efforts were in vain, and Oak Island claimed its first life as a result.

The Stone Symbol

The Onslow firm would seek to finish what the three friends started a few years later. Despite the fact that their attempts were not successful, they discovered a tablet with writing that wasn’t able to be translated for nearly a century.


According to one purported expert, some of the writing means “Forty feet below, two million pounds lay buried.” Understandably, many people have interpreted this as confirmation that a treasure is hidden beneath. For years before this revelation, however, the symbols went unsolved.

Outlandish Theories

Oak Island has, over the years, inspired enough conspiracy theories to shock even Alex Jones and Joe Rogan. People have postulated that the treasure may somehow be connected to Marie Antoinette, while others are convinced Shakespeare was involved.

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Whether you put any stock in these wild theories or not, they reveal just how much Oak Island has captured our collective imagination. It has, after all, been a mystery for more than a century. Only after the arrival of the Lagina brothers did we start to get any real answers.


Tales of the Oak Island Treasure

The brothers put in a lot of effort and spent a large chunk of their lives attempting to figure out what was going on at Oak Island, but to no effect.

However, their most recent endeavors to solve the Island’s secrets appear to have yielded results. This is why A&E chose to film a documentary special called The Curse of Oak Island to highlight their efforts and groundbreaking discoveries. When it comes to Oak Island, any treasure hunter worth their salt will tell you that the place is cursed.


Help from Investors

The brothers’ infatuation with the island compelled them to spend a large sum of money to undertake the excavations they hoped would lead them to the discovery of hidden wealth.

Fortunately, their participation in a TV documentary on the island piqued the interest of other investors. The battles that occurred around the time the island was initially discovered are one of the most compelling reasons why investors were convinced to shell out money and fund the treasure hunt. 


Ancient Artifacts

The show went on for two seasons, with the Laginas making no important discoveries. During the third season, however, the brothers turned everything around with a momentous discovery.

When the Lagina brothers uncovered some fascinating antiques, they drained a massive pit to see if they could unearth more. One of their finds included what looks like a Roman sword. If authenticated, this discovery could prove that the Romans landed on American soil thousands of years ago. In turn, this might mean that the treasure of Oak Island could be far older – and far more valuable – than anyone imagined.


The Detailed Treasure Map

Zen Halpern, the author of The Templar Mission to Oak Island and Beyond, was one of the show’s guests. He had plenty of insights to share with the Lagina brothers.

Halpern recounted his theory regarding the presence of 12th-century Templars on the island. He offered evidence in the form of a meticulously made replica of a 1647 French map. The terms “hatch,” “valve,” and “anchor” were printed on this chart. He also argued that the vast treasure hidden on the little Canadian island may have come from Africa.


An Ancient Binder

One of the most intriguing items the group found was a small piece of material that appeared to be part of a book – possibly from a binder. What document did this piece of fabric tie, and what did it mean in terms of the treasure rumored to be buried beneath the island’s muddy ground?

It was a mystery, but Rick believed it was vital to the island’s enigma. “If that really is parchment,” Rick Lagina argued, “it can only mean that there’s some form of manuscript or record at tremendous depths in the Money Pit.”


Old Parchment Letter

Soon after the crew found the fabric from the binder, they unearthed a piece of parchment made from animal leather. It bore markings that looked like a medieval script of some sort. According to the brothers, this piece of parchment is linked to a series of correspondences between Frederick Blair and William Chappell, the latter of whom was involved in a 1930s investigation on the island.

Blair and Chappell were late-nineteenth-century treasure hunters from Canada who believed that a parchment they had discovered was extremely valuable because it indicated the location of the treasure.


The US President’s Connection to Oak Island

Many people attempted to explore the island during the twentieth century. One such exploratory trip was supposed to include President Roosevelt, who had a lifetime obsession with the island. One can only speculate as to why Roosevelt abandoned his search for treasure on Oak Island, but it’s probable that his crew was unsuccessful and lacked the funds to continue.

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Interest in the Money Pit remained high, thanks to discoveries such as those made by Erwin Hamilton, who claimed to have found rocks and wood that were not native to the area, confirming that something had been buried beneath.


Meet the Brave Team

Marty and Rick Lagina would never be able to finish their quest without help. With their buddies Dan and David Blankenship, as well as Craig Tester, they ventured out in search of hidden riches.

They have certainly put together a brave team with the know-how and experience to take the Oak Island search to the next level. After nearly two centuries of excavations, it appears that the Lagina Brothers and their team have made the most progress of all the treasure hunters and explorers who have come before them.


The Determination of a Father and a Son

Dan Blankenship is a determined man with the knowledge and experience to solve this enigma. He had a prosperous contracting firm but abandoned it all for Oak Island after reading an article about the mystery. He is lovingly referred to as a “living legend.”

He spent the better part of a century drilling, digging, and uncovering Oak Island’s mysteries. David, his son, learned his skills and expertise from him. Though David was in a catastrophic car accident over three decades ago, he is alive and well and dedicated to their mission.


Craig's Wild Idea

The brave treasure hunters discovered that the Money Pit was much deeper than anyone had previously imagined. They attempted to drain the water once more, but something strange occurred when they did so. Water continued to flow into the pit, filling it as they worked to empty it.

Craig and the Lagina team had an idea: they would freeze the money pit. Excavation would then be far easier. Craig explained that when faced with a problem that endlessly repeats itself, you must take a fresh approach rather than trying the same old tactics. 


The Partnership

The brothers assumed that they would have to buy a stake in the island in order to pursue their quest of discovering the hidden gold. In 2006, they did just that by purchasing half of Oak Island Tours, which owns the majority of the property on this intriguing island off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Half of the company was owned by Dan Blankenship, a member of the Lagina team. Both sides recognized from the start that they needed to work together to achieve their common goal.


Finding Treasure Takes Time

There have been several efforts to uncover the riches concealed on Oak Island, and these attempts have spanned nearly two centuries. Every historical conspiracy theory conceivable appears to have been linked to Oak Island at one point or another.

Despite the rumors, one thing is universally acknowledged and agreed upon by treasure seekers, and it is this belief that keeps the Lagina brothers and their crew going: there is a money pit, and it most certainly holds something. No matter how long it takes, they have committed their lives to discovering what that “something” is.


The Wooden Lined Shaft

Marty and Rick made use of cutting-edge technology and instruments to demonstrate that early excavators created a wood-lined shaft in the pit. It was built in 1805 (or thereabouts) by the individuals who first discovered the Money Pit and sought to dig up its treasure.

These early explorers provided the foundation for many of the subsequent breakthroughs. However, they never made it far. Since beginning their modern-day journey on Oak Island, Marty and Ricky have uncovered approximately 600 historical relics.


The Human Bone

One of Marty and Rick’s most notable findings was a human bone that was found to belong to a person of Middle Eastern origin. The brothers struggled to explain how a Middle Eastern person could have made it to Oak Island, let alone be buried there. Another bone they found was proven to be of European descent.

The discovery raised more questions than answers. Marty expressed his delight at the finding and speculated on a possible connection with the Knights Templar.


Master Metal Locator Gary Drayton

Gary Drayton is a metal-detecting expert who offered his services to the Lagina brothers, doing his best to help them secure the Oak Island treasure. Drayton is a seasoned treasure hunter who specializes in metal detection, and his knowledge has been crucial to the brothers’ efforts.

He is frequently referred to by the team as having the enviable ability to find things that others cannot. And he’s made good use of his abilities for the squad. Gary uncovered something genuinely astonishing before the fifth season of The Curse of Oak Island ended.


Historical Cross

A lead cross with a square hole at the top was discovered by Rick, Marty, and Gary. This cross dates from the 1200s to the 1600s, making it medieval in origin. Though the precise century of its creation is unknown, we do know it was made in the Middle Ages.

They also discovered a mysterious stone with the Greek letters Eta and Theta on it. The design bears similarities to a Templar prison in Domme, France. The discovery would be less noteworthy if they didn’t have other evidence on hand that pointed to a Templar connection to the island.


The Origin of the Cross

Despite popular belief that the lead cross is tied to the Knights Templar, historian Zena Halpern believes otherwise. The cross, according to Zena, could be a representation of the Phoenician deity Tanit.

According to Zena Halpern, the Templars may have secretly worshiped Tanit, which is comparable to earlier assertions that the Templars were secretly occultists. This has led to speculation that the Templars revered the Phoenician goddess of fertility and health, which might turn certain historical knowledge on its head.


The Smuggled Gold Theory

Another explanation regarding these fabled crosses takes a more pragmatic approach. The scientists hypothesized that many chunks of lead, such as those seen in crosses, were used to smuggle gold.

Because gold and lead are both rather heavy metals, precious gold wrapped in bland old lead can be smuggled without danger of being robbed by pirates or other unsavory characters. “There was gold beneath this cross, and the cross itself was wrapped in lead,” Jack Begley explained. He expressed a feeling that there may be more lead-wrapped crosses out there.


A Stunning Rhodolite Stone

This Rhodolite stone could be 500 years old, according to Gary Drayton, and could be linked to the legend of Marie Antoinette’s gems. Such stones have been used in religious ceremonies by both Egyptians and Romans.

How did such a valuable, rare jewel wind up in a marshy pit in Nova Scotia? Is it possible that more riches will be discovered in the Money Pit? Rick Lagina wasn’t sure, but he was thrilled with the discovery of the rhodolite garnet. Whatever happens next, they’ve already found something precious.


Origin Theories

As the mystery surrounding the Money Pit remained unexplained, curiosity about the hidden wealth grew. The rhodolite garnet could have come from a variety of locales, and the Marie Antoinette connection is just one of several ideas about the stone’s origins.

Other scholars claim it held secrets that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Shakespeare’s plays were authored by Francis Bacon. Whatever treasures were imagined to be hidden beneath the surface, the island drew treasure hunters for more than 200 years. Historians, archeologists, and researchers all contributed to the investigation.


Getting Closer to the Hidden Treasure

Rick and Marty Lagina knew they were closer than ever to discovering Oak Island’s buried riches. They soon discovered another valuable stone that has since been officially designated as “treasure” by the Treasure Trove License. “It’s like a lightning rod has gone off,” Matty Blake remarked, “and they continue finding all kinds of discoveries.”

We couldn’t agree with Matty Black more and can’t wait to see what they uncover next now that the floodgates have been opened! Read on as the treasure hunt doesn’t stop here. 


A Mysterious Stone

The hidden treasures on Oak Island continued to pile up. Another unusual stone was uncovered, with intriguing engravings that more than hinted it wasn’t simply garden variety. The engravings reminded Craig Tester, the in-house drilling specialist of the treasure hunter team, of Roman numerals.

If there’s one thing the crew agrees on at this point, it’s that anything discovered near the Money Pit has to be properly explored. Later, they discovered a shocking fact about the newly found stone.


Vikings on Oak Island

The strange-looking stone was taken to their lab, where it was subjected to a battery of tests. Further research was carried out on the stone. They believe that the data thus far points to “an early Viking presence on Oak Island.”

The Lagina Brothers take their workers out every now and then to gaze at the abundance of riches they’ve previously discovered as a reminder to keep digging. This stone added another piece of evidence to support the previously well-documented hypotheses regarding a Viking link to the island.


Tube Plates Discovery

Strange stones and parchments were not the only things they discovered. Rick and Marty began digging in Smith’s Cove during the sixth season of The Curse of Oak Island. They uncovered some extremely fascinating finds after shutting the excavated area off with an intricate steel structure.

The crew uncovered what seemed to be tubular rods that were out of place in the environment, implying that they were man-made. They were able to corroborate this by consulting an eminent archeologist, Laird Niven, who identified the artifacts as “tube plates.”


A Hidden Vault

The researchers also discovered an odd-looking structure under the surface that was tilted in such a way that it appeared to be man-made. The group soon found themselves digging up even more relics. Surely, they reasoned, they were one step closer to unearthing the mythical wealth.

The latest find baffled the crew, but they collectively came to the thought that it may be the mysterious Chapel Vault, which is supposed to house the Oak Isle riches. Only time will tell whether or not this hopeful theory is correct.


Discovery of the Flood Tunnels

In the last seasons of The Curse of Oak Island, there have been a lot of ups and downs and discoveries. The excavation crew uncovered many intriguing items, but during season 7, one of the main focuses was on a probable tunnel discovery.

Screenshot from "The Curse of Oak Island"

One of the biggest steps to confirming whether the legend of Oak Island’s treasure is true or not came via a flood tunnel that appears to lead to the Money Pit. Sadly, they appeared to be hitting dead ends. Until the fourth quarter of 2020, that is.


The Real Treasure

Whatever comes of their island search in the near future, one thing is certain: the brothers have profited handsomely from the famous TV show that chronicles their Oak Island treasure quest. Because of the public’s interest in their lifetime ambition, the Laginas now own a portion of the island and have become a cash cow for the History Channel.

Unsurprisingly, the Laginas are now wealthy with tens of millions of dollars, with Rick’s value estimated to be over $2 million and Marty’s estimated to be around $50 million. Hopefully their collection of valuable relicts and historical discoveries will only continue to grow.