Nelson Bunker and William Herbert Hunt were the heirs of oil tycoon H.L. Hunt. The family was one of the richest in America at the time. In the early 1970’s the family decided to buy silver as a hedge against inflation, and amassed it in great quantity. In the fall of 1979, the Hunt Brothers, along with some wealthy Arabs formed a silver buying pool and bought up 200 million ounces- the equivalent of half the world’s deliverable supply. The price of silver had moved from $2 per ounce in 1973 to $5 per ounce in early 1979 and then rocketed as high as $54 in early 1980.
The officials at COMEX moved to check this cornering of the silver market by raisng margin requirements. The highly leveraged Hunt Borthers were unable to meet their margin calls, and were forced to sell. The price of silver fell dramatically; on March 27th 1980 the price fell 50% in one day, from $21.62 to $10.80. The Hunt Brothers were forced to declare bankruptcy. Bache Group, which handled of the trades for the brothers, was financially ruined.