Florida treasure hunters found a trove of $4.5 million worth of Spanish gold coins 300 years to the day after a fleet of ships sunk in a hurricane while en route from Havana to Spain, the salvage owner said Wednesday.
The 350 coins found on July 30 include nine rare pieces, known as royal eight escudos, which were being transported to the King of Spain, according to Brent Brisben. His company, 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels, owns the rights to the wreckage.
Only 20 such coins were known to exist prior to the recovery of the nine royals, Brisben said.
"The gold looks like it fell into the water yesterday," said William Bartlett, 51, the diver who spotted the haul.
Bartlett was part of a three-man crew aboard Brisben' boat S/V Capitana when it found coins in shallow waters off Vero Beach, Florida. The search site was picked because it was close to a previous discovery.
On the same day in 1715, a hurricane tossed 11 treasure-laden Spanish galleons on to reefs off Florida' East Coast, sinking them in the early hours the following morning. Today, the wreckage is scattered over a wide area.
The coins found by Bartlett are part of the now-scattered treasure transported by the galleons, which have since broken up.
Bartlett said the crew used the boat propeller to blow a hole in the sandy ocean floor to reach bedrock eight feet (2.4 meters) down. The salvage operation lasted five days.
Like many Florida treasure hunters, Bartlett, a Pompano Beach kitchen and bathroom re-modeler, dives as a hobby.
He said he did not hunt treasure for the money, and declined to say how much he would receive under contract with 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels.
"I'm just a guy on a boat living the dream," Bartlett said.
Hunters like Bartlett typically work under contract with the company, which grants them a percentage of their find after the state of Florida exercises its right to 20 percent of the haul.
The company acquired legal custodianship of the sunken fleet from the heirs of world-renowned treasure hunter Mel Fisher.
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA: Although Panama ratified a 2003 convention against the commercial exploitation and looting of wrecks, the plundering of a sunken Spanish galleon continues.
The National Institute of Culture (INAC) Heritage Director Wilhelm Franqueza has reported that an official Investigation of Marinas del Istmo, S.A., a company exploring The San Jose, was found in a mall with a suitcase full of coins from the vessel. He said that although the company has a valid concession, it must inform the authorities when it removes any treasure. "There are regulations that must be followed" he said.
The authorities have seized some 3000 colonial coins and they are in the custody of the National Customs National Authority while an investigation is underway.
When Eric Schmitt's metal detector got a hit about 15 feet below the ocean's surface, he didn't think much of it.
Most of the time, the metal detectors uncover beer cans and lead fishing weights. But this time was different. This time, the treasure-hunter from Sanford struck gold, and a lot of it.
Schmitt and his family found 52 gold coins worth more than $1 million. The star of the haul was an extremely rare coin known as a "Tricentennial Royal" minted in 1715. It had been underwater since a fleet of Spanish ships foundered during a hurricane along Florida's Treasure Coast 300 years ago, Schmitt said.
"These things were known as presentation pieces not meant to be circulated as currency," Schmitt said.
That coin alone is worth about $500,000, according to Schmitt.
And according to Brent Brisben, co-founder of 1715 Fleet — Queens Jewels LLC, the company that owns the rights to dive at the wreckage site where the gold was found, the coin's value comes from the fact that it is in nearly perfect condition and is a rarity.
BY ADAM LINHARDT Citizen Staff
A shipwreck salvor has claimed to have found a wrecked sailing vessel somewhere off the Middle Keys, but as is usual with such cases, specifics about what treasures it may hold and from what year in history it hails remains shrouded in secrecy.
A company called EPW Salvage, Inc., owned by Edward Peter Worthington Jr., filed paperwork in federal court Wednesday asking U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez to grant him sole title to the unidentified vessel.
Martinez had not responded as of Friday.
Worthington is a commercial fisherman, said his lawyer, Hugh Morgan of Key West.
Morgan declined to say what has been recovered thus far from the wreck, but added the water is shallow enough to be searched by scuba divers. Morgan did not know what year the vessel wrecked, he said. Latitude and longitude coordinates included on court records indicate the wreck is somewhere off Duck Key in Florida state waters.
“A portion of the wreck is currently protruding the sea floor in such a manner that it presents a hazard to navigation endangering the life and property of vessels navigating over the surface of the site,” court records state. EPW Salvage,
Should EPW Salvage make a substantial find, that location could prove to be a legal conundrum for the company. The state of Florida could fight the company for a percentage of the loot. Other government organizations such as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary could argue salvage would disrupt the ecosystem and try to stop salvage operations.
But those two points remain speculative. Thus far, no other group or government has challenged EPW Salvage, Inc. on the wreck.
“Since the time of the discovery, the plaintiff has not disturbed the wreck site and shall not do so unless and until it receives license by the state,” according to court records.
EPW Salvage, Inc. also stated that it “will diligently seek state of Florida’s consent to salvage the vessel for the purpose of removing the said obstruction to navigation and relics in an archaeologically proper manner and to preserve the same accordingly.”
Meanwhile in a separate, unrelated case, U.S. Senior Judge James Lawrence King granted the rights in October to Kahar, LLC after the company told the court that no one else had come forward to lay claim to a mystery wreck of an unidentified vessel discovered in 2012 in international waters off Key West, according to court records.
A relic recovered from the ship indicates that the ship is “an ancient sailing vessel,” according to court documents.
Morgan is the attorney in that case as well. He reported no recent news on that wreck.
“The salvage continues,” Morgan said.
Courtesy: Keys News
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The dream of every treasure-hunter came true for Florian Bautsch last October when he found 217 Nazi-era gold coins in Lüneburg, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Tuesday.
Bausch – a certified metal detectorist – was exploring old burial mounds in the town south of Hamburg when he stumbled across the first gold piece.
After a further search under the foliage uncovered nine more coins, Bautsch did a survey of the area and got in touch with local archaeologists.
A two-week long excavation followed, unearthing a further 207 gold coins – with a material worth estimated at around $50,000.
Archaeologists also found remnants of pasteboard with two seals bearing the swastika, imperial eagle and the stamp: "Reichsbank Berlin 244".
The find was exhibited in Lüneburg Museum on Tuesday – and caused considerable excitement among experts, according to Lüneburg archaeologist Edgar Ring.
Despite the value of the coins coming to $50,000, Bautsch is only set to receive the relatively small sum of $3,000 as his finder's reward – but explained his honesty by saying that the most important thing for him was furthering scientific knowledge.
BY MARTIN VOGLTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAINTE MARIE ISLAND, Madagascar — Barry Clifford brought up the heavy silver ingot from the bottom of a bay as the president of Madagascar waited to receive it.
The dramatic moment was just one in a lifetime of adventures that the American has experienced as he has scoured ocean beds for sunken treasure — but also another example of what critics say is his excessive hunger for the limelight.
Recorded by the gathered press, the moment off the coast of Madagascar last month was important for Clifford, who calls himself “an underwater Sherlock Holmes,” for he believes the bar once belonged to 17th century pirate Captain Kidd. Clifford, a fit 70 year old who dives regularly, has also roiled the waters among the marine archaeology community.
In a recent telephone interview from his home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Clifford described the fascination that drives him in travels that have taken him from Uruguay to Venezuela, Scotland and elsewhere.
“You’ve got these incredible, intoxicating mysteries that are screaming at you,” he said.
“And I just think — give me a break, how can anyone not want to go looking for that?”
Clifford’s most well-known find is close to his home and the area where he grew up.
By Robert Trigaux
Tampa's Odyssey Marine Exploration, the treasure-hunting business whose bottom line can resemble the shipwrecks it is so good at finding, hopes to salvage its own future in a company overhaul.
Odyssey unveiled a complex financial deal that gives up control of the company to a Mexican iron and coal company. It's a sign of how precarious Odyssey's financial predicament has become.
Case in point: Odyssey on Monday said it lost $5.2 million in the fourth quarter, $26.5 million for all of 2014.
Worse, the sea exploration company's publicly traded shares dropped well below $1 last year and lately have hovered near 60 cents. In a business that requires lots of capital — it's expensive to search for small things deep under the ocean — Odyssey's need for more investor money has proved a constant struggle.
BY ERIC RUSSELL
A California businessman who last year partnered with Gorham treasure hunter Greg Brooks on the ill-fated salvage of a shipwreck off Cape Cod has ended the partnership.
Don Rodocker, CEO of Seabotix, a San Diego producer of remote-operated vehicles, said this week that he saw “no way to go forward” after revelations that Brooks’ chief researcher forged documents intended to prove there was treasure aboard the SS Port Nicholson.
“No one is ever going to fund him again,” Rodocker said of Brooks, who has been salvaging shipwrecks for three decades but has yet to find anything of substantial value.
Rodocker declined to say how much money he invested in Brooks’ enterprise.
A hoard of 22,000 Roman coins has been unearthed on land near Seaton in East Devon.
The “Seaton Down Hoard” of copper-alloy Roman coins is one of the largest and best preserved 4th Century collections to have ever been found in Britain.
The hoard was declared Treasure at a Devon Coroner’s Inquest on 12th September 2014 which means it will be eligible for acquisition by a museum after valuation by the Treasure Valuation Committee, a group of independent experts who advise the Secretary of State. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, which already houses a large collection of local Romano-British objects, has launched a fund-raising campaign.
The discovery was made in November 2013 by East Devon builder and metal detector enthusiast Laurence Egerton who was operating under license on private land near the previously excavated site of a Roman villa at Honey ditches in East Devon.
This law is pending only a formality regulatory which is scheduled for January next year, giving way to tender to explore and then extract what's under the sea, said in an interview with Efe Colombian Culture Minister Mariana Garces. "Colombia has approximately 1,300 shipwrecks. Of those, according to historians, between five and seven can be galleons economic interest," Garces said.
The controversial law provides that the company that wins the bid to extract the wealth of the galleons can keep up to 50% of the objects of trade exchange value considered repeated: gold and silver bullion, coins, precious stones not intervened by man and industrial cargoes. Instead, all parts that do not meet this criterion will be considered repeat Colombian heritage and, therefore, property of the nation. 's greatest treasures seems to be the galleon San José, a flagship of the Spanish Navy ship sunk by gunfire in 1708 by English pirates off the coast of Cartagena de Indias with great wealth in their cellars. "Some say there are 6,000 million, others say there are 3,000 others say that San Jose has been looted, "said the minister, who also opened the possibility that the galleon is not in the place where it is believed.
And in 2007 the Supreme Court of Colombia ruled that U.S. treasure hunting company Sea Search Armada has rights to 50% of the treasure of San Jose if you are in the coordinates that the company claimed. "We're hoping to finish that ultimately judicial decisions (on San Jose), we are confident will be favorable to us, to establish the mechanism of exploration, "said the minister about this process that is still in court. Submerged Heritage Act, approved this year, also provides that the priority for extracting treasures submerged the Colombian State, but the minister acknowledged that the country "has technological developments in the field." Responsible for the public company would do Dimar (General Maritime) Garces acknowledged that they have not yet begun to work on developing a technology that permits it. The Minister also referred to the rest of sunken ships, nearly 1,300 that have no economic interest but scientific and heritage. "We would have underwater explorations for our history, not only with the only commercial mood. That's not our interest, not our priority," he said Garces.
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