The work of the film team and its lead‐explorer, undertaken in spring 2015, as well as prior work by the same explorer, was distinguished by a media‐led approach, which has not respected the regulations of the 2001 Convention, and which jeopardized the scientific understanding of the sites concerned and the preservation of the artefacts recovered.
UNESCO previously determined that Clifford’s most famous find, his alleged discovery of the Columbus’s Santa Maria, was actually a ship from around 1700.
Sam Brown, a filmmaker producing a feature on the discovery for the History Channel, did not take kindly to having his profit center questioned by an international body. He told the AFP that “UNESCO will attempt to discredit Barry Clifford by whatever means they can.” He then accused UNESCO of operating without transparency and of not looking in the right place. As the History Blog noted, this is rather ironic given that Clifford admitted that he had not been transparent with reporters and hid the fact that he had never tested the supposed “silver” before announcing it was part of Captain Kidd’s treasure.
For his part, Clifford maintains that the lead bar might really be silver and that we can’t know for sure whether the UNESCO-cited tests were accurate—a conspiratorial position very similar to that of several other History Channel stars. He further claims that UNESCO has an anti-American and anti-British bias that led them to conspire against him—again like some History Channel stars who accuse various agencies of secretly being in the employ of Freemasons, Catholics, or the Jews. Clifford told the Washington Post that the attacks on his evidence-free conclusions are “asinine” and “political.” The Post dryly notes that Clifford fraudulently represented one of his colleagues, John de Bry, as an archaeologist despite having no degree in the field, and that he turned on de Bry the moment de Bry began helping UNESCO unravel the Kidd story, decrying de Bry as a fraud despite being able to produce no evidence beyond his own misrepresentations.
Clifford shares one more similarity with the stars of the History Channel: He believes he can determine facts just by thinking about them, saying he identified the debris off Madagascar as the Adventure Galley based on intuition. “Intuition means a lot when you’re looking for things and discovering things.”