Marty Lagina and Craig Tester became prominent figures in the reality-television universe when they became associated with the TV show “The Curse of Oak Island”, the two treasure hunters searching for the fabled treasures in Oak Island dating back to the 16th century. Aside from investing in their expensive hobby of treasure hunting, Marty and Craig are engineers and entrepreneurs by profession, and had a few successful businesses to keep their families in a very comfortable lifestyle.
- 1 “The Curse of Oak Island,” the reality-TV show
- 2 Top 5 of the most interesting discoveries in Oak Island
- 3 Marty Lagina and Craig Tester before the reality-TV series
- 4 Marty Lagina and Craig Tester’s business ventures
- 5 Net Worth of Marty Lagina and Craig Tester
“The Curse of Oak Island,” the reality-TV show
History Channel found a goldmine when it launched the reality-TV show, “The Curse of Oak Island,” which chronicled the Lagina brothers, Marty and Rick, along with other partners such as Craig Tester and a team of experts as they searched for the legendary treasure that was believed to be buried somewhere in the island. Some theorized that it might be home to the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, and pirate treasure.
The TV series was launched in 2014, and for several years, millions of viewers followed the adventure of these determined treasure hunters, as they did everything they could with the help of science and history to unravel what happened in the past. For many years, they hadn’t found the treasure, but several clues and artifacts pertaining to its existence were discovered during their digging. These had fueled their efforts in looking for it, despite the harsh criticism they received from cynics.
Top 5 of the most interesting discoveries in Oak Island
There were dozens of artifacts or objects found after digging in different areas on the island, that were featured in the “Curse of the Oak Island.” Each of them encouraged the treasure hunters to continue their search, as most of them validated the possibility of a buried treasure.
The money pit that started it all
One of the things that spurred other treasure hunters over the centuries to look for treasures was the discovery of what everyone now called the “Money Pit.” Back in 1795, a young man named Daniel McGuiness went to Oak Island, and was disturbed by strange lights he claimed to have seen on the island; he then enlisted the help of his friends to investigate. He found a depressed spot near a tree with markings surrounded by loose soil. They started digging, and two feet down a circle of stones embedded in the ground was found. Ten feet later, there was some sort of platform, with logs arranged at regular intervals around the hole. They continued digging and a similar platform appeared after another 10 feet, but they halted their exploration as it became unstable. Over the years, various treasure-hunting expeditions were made tp the area.
Granite slab of stone with coded markings
One of the most controversial objects that treasure hunters dug up was a granite slab of stone with coded markings, discovered during the Onslow Company expedition in 1802, after digging around 90 feet. Back then, it was dismissed as something that was mistakenly inscribed, because no one could decipher the markings. In 1860, the markings were decoded by a Nova Scotia Dalhousie University language professor, who claimed that it meant, ‘Forty Feet Below Two Million Pounds Are Buried.’ However, in the 1970s, it was decoded again and the newer translation wasn’t associated with anything about a buried treasure, just a religious warning not to forget their duty to the Maker. Some even claimed that when it was discovered, no markings were found on the stone.
What started as an interest for two young brothers ‘Rick Lagina and Marty Lagina’, became an obsession ‘in search of the treasure’. Join them on a dangerous quest as they decode the dark secrets that lie beneath the Oak Island. #TheCurseOfOakIsland
Posted by HISTORY on Friday, September 21, 2018
Garnet brooch alluding to Marie Antoinette’s jewels
In 2017, a Garnet brooch was found by one of the expeditions of the Lagina crew, which was featured in the fifth episode of “Curse of Oak Island.” The metal-detecting expert in the group, Gary Drayton, discovered it by using a handheld gadget as he went around the northern part of the island. At first, everyone thought it was a ruby stone, but later on realized that it was a 500-year-old 12-faceted Rhodolite Garnet. With the popular theory that Marie Antoinette’s Crown of Jewels along with her personal jewelry was hidden on the island, after she and her husband, Louis XVI, fled Paris in 1791, some firmly believed that it was part of her stash of gems. When the two royals were captured, they didn’t have the treasure with them, and there was a story back then that a trusted lady-in-waiting had hidden them somewhere.
A lead medieval cross similar to the Knights of Templar cross
One of the most important discoveries that the Lagina crew made was finding a medieval cross that was quite similar to that associated with the Knights Templar, a Catholic military order. They were recognized as the Crusades’ most skilled fighting units, and as such, became a favored charity in the whole of Christendom; they received land, money, and businesses from people who supported the fight in the Holy Land. The reason behind the importance of the discovery was the theory that the Knights of Templar along with their treasures had back then reached North America, although there are no historical records suggesting such a feat. It was discovered during the sixth season of “Curse of Oak Island,” when the treasure hunters went to Smith’s Cove, and to ensure that it was a Knights Templar cross, the Lagina crew sent it to the University of New Brunswick, and through laser abrasion, it was concluded that it wasn’t from North America but couldn’t specifically detect where it came from.
Due to the inconclusive result, they had it tested in the German Mining Museum, which had a distinct reputation for having a database of various deposits, as well as minerals discovered since the ancient world. A geochemist named Tobias Skowronek conducted the test, and found a match during the medieval era, which was consistent with lead deposits in Southern France. To further examine its connection to the Knights Templar, Marty’s brother Rick, went to Rennes-le-Chateau to talk to a modern-day Knights Templar Grand Master, Tobi Dobler, who said that they were aware that members of the Knight Templar had traveled to Scotland and then to Oak Island.
Rare, old coins
A variety of old, rare, and exotic coins was found on the island too. The possibility that the Knights Templar buried their treasure in Oak Island became even more exciting, not only with the Lagina crew but also with the viewers of “Curse of Oak Island” – among the coins they found in separate diggings was a Templar coin. It corroborated another theory made by one of the late Knights Templar researchers in New York, who claimed that there was a map associated with their group that they considered proof of the link between the Knights Templar and Oak Island. Some 17th-century coins were also unearthed including King George coins, which proved that some inhabitants of the island were from that century. Another rare coin was also found that caught the interest of the coin experts, as it had a square hole in the middle. They said it wasn’t European because of its unusual design, but probably came from somewhere exotic in the 16th to 17th century. It gave the possibility to another theory, that a famous pirate buried his loot on the island, to escape detection from the authorities.
Marty Lagina and Craig Tester before the reality-TV series
The treasure hunters in “The Curse of Oak Island” generated much interest from viewers, as they never gave up on searching for the buried treasure. All the expensive gadgets they used, the hired experts, and expensive flights to other parts of the world, led to fans asking where they got the money to invest in their treasure-hunting journey. Get to know Marty Lagina and Craig Tester before they became involved in the show.
Martin “Marty” Lagina was a native of Kingsford, Michigan, who was born on 26 August 1955, to parents George Jacob Lagina and Anna Cavalleri, who initially lived in Iron Mountain, Michigan. Marty with his three siblings was raised in a comfortable household their father was an Army veteran who served during World War II, and later earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. After working 30 years as a partner at W.B. Thompson Company, he devoted much time to his Church, his chosen advocacy, and then golf during his retirement. His mother was an avid painter, who worked for Lake Shore Engineering and VA hospital before she chose to focus her time on her children. Marty matriculated from Kingsford High School in 1973, then in 1977 graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University, and earned a Juris Doctorate with honors from the University of Michigan in 1982.
Starring… Rick and Marty Lagina! pic.twitter.com/IjIaVUK5es
— Curse of Oak Island (@CurseOfOak) November 19, 2021
After graduation, he worked for a few years for the American oil and chemical company Amoco Corporation (formerly Standard Oil Company of Indiana) as a petroleum engineer. He later went solo, and became an independent consultant engineer with various oil corporations while studying law, saying ‘I was a law student, putting together oil deals, working out of a tiny room the size of a small walk-in closet.’ That showed his determination in learning about possible oil well explorations. He is both a registered professional engineer, and a State Bar member in Michigan. There were no reports that he gave up on his bachelor status, or has any kids.
Craig Tester was quite a private person, despite his participation in the reality-TV show, and it wasn’t a surprise to find a few websites about him with conflicting data on his birthdate and birthplace. Some stated he was born in January 1961, others in February 1961. Details about his birthplace were sketchy too, but he had long resided in Traverse, Michigan, with his wife Rebecca Pauline Tester. The couple had three children listed in their bios, but only had one child together, Drake Maxwell Tester, who died at the age of 16 in 2017 due to a seizure disorder. The other two, Madeline and Jack Begley, were Rebecca’s children from her previous marriage.
While Craig lived most of his life in his Michigan mansion, it was reported that he put it up for sale recently, but there were no records as to where he relocated, except that in one of his wife’s Facebook posts, a friend commented that the farm life looked good on her. Craig was also a mechanical engineering graduate from Michigan Technical University, and an engineer by profession. One of the most surprising interests that Craig indulged in when he was still young and able was wrestling. While he never pursued this professionally after his university days, he participated in several wrestling matches, and was the reason why to this day, he keeps his body fit and trim. This type of discipline made oil well exploration activities easier for him.
Long before Marty Lagina and Craig Tester even had any idea that they would be involved in the reality-TV series, “Curse of the Oak Island,” they had known each other for quite some time. Aside from both earning bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering, according to History Channel’s official website, Marty and Craig were also roommates in college as they shared the same dormitory. Their interests and views on life were quite similar, and they became friends from the get-go.
Marty Lagina and Craig Tester’s business ventures
People who personally knew Marty and Craig weren’t surprised that the two successful engineers pooled their resources and founded a few companies together.
Terra Energy Ltd
In 1984, just after Marty earned his Juris Doctorate, he and Craig founded the natural gas exploration company called Terra Energy Ltd., which pioneered not only gas exploration, but also the development of the Antrim shale natural gas industry in the State of Michigan. Their skills made Terra one of the most successful companies in the energy industry, as it developed more than $3 billion worth of not only natural gas but also oil resources, becoming Michigan’s largest gas wells operator in the 1990s. They sold the company while it was at its peak in 1995, to CMS Energy for close to $60 million.
Heritage Sustainable Energy
Marty, at the age of 40, focused on a different path, and Craig, who was about five years younger, went along with him. They founded Heritage Sustainable Energy in 2004, wanting to provide all US states with renewable energy through a series of wind and solar projects. Their goal was to install equipment with enough capacity to power close to 60,000 homes annually with clean and homegrown energy. According to the company’s official website, Heritage already installed and operated by wind and solar equipment, providing 200MW to homes with hundreds more to follow in their current projects. Aside from being the founder of the business, Marty served as the Chief Executive and the majority owner, while Craig worked as the Vice-President as well as the Manager of the Rock Management Group.
Oak Island Tours Incorporated
One of the reasons why the esteemed treasure hunters continued to have access to Oak Island was that they owned around 78% of the land, due to which they could provide official tours for fans and tourists – Marty and Craig along with other investors teamed up to establish Oak Island Tours Incorporated. Due to the popularity of the fabled treasure, and the legendary curse surrounding it, the island already attracted many tourists even before the reality-TV show was created. However, having the stars of the TV series as owners of the tour company made it even more special for the tourists. They were guaranteed to be shown around the island by highly knowledgeable tourist guides, such as TV production consultant Charles Barkhouse, and history researcher Lisa Moore.
“Curse of Oak Island”
The reality-TV show was the most popular of all of Marty and Craig’s business ventures. While the face of the successful series was Marty and his brother Rick, Craig served as one of its producers. He also made appearances in the show, as he was also very serious about digging up the treasure. The Lagina brothers’ interest in the buried treasure in Oak Island started when they were kids, after they read an article about it in an old edition of Reader’s Digest. Through the years, it became a favorite family dinner discussion, and later an obsession. When they reached the age of 40 and had successful careers, they focused on pursuing their childhood dream. With the help of partners and friends including Craig, they bought a huge part of the private island to ensure that they wouldn’t have any problem with the exploratory digging. Discovery Channel heard of it, and offered to document their adventure. In November 2022, it started airing the 10th season of the show.
Net Worth of Marty Lagina and Craig Tester
Both Marty and Craig belong to the millionaires club. According to authoritative sources, Marty has an estimated net worth of $100 million as of January 2023, and Craig Tester with $5 million. Marty also invested in wine production, as he owned Mari Vineyards with 73 acres of planted grapes situated in Michigan – it was named Mari as a tribute to his Italian grandmother Teresa Mari. Craig’s net worth could be higher, but with limited information about him, the total net worth should be taken with a grain of salt.