By Robert Nolin, Sun Sentinel
Veiled in myth, it's said to be forged of Incan gold by Peru's Spanish overlords nearly 400 years ago: a life-size statue of the Madonna and Christ child.
And the fabled Golden Madonna lies just off the Palm Beach County coast, at the site of a Spanish shipwreck from 1659.
That's what Robert Bouchlas, treasure hunter and leader of a West Palm Beach church, believes.
But experts strongly doubt the solid gold statue is real. And Bouchlas' federal claim for salvage rights to the wreck has drawn attention from Florida and Spanish officials.
"Does the Golden Madonna exist? It's a story which has circulated for some period of time," said Terry Armstrong, a treasure hunter from Merritt Island who publishes books on shipwrecks. "I don't put any credence into it whatsoever."
Bouchlas, 82, declined to discuss the statue upon the advice of lawyers. But he authorized longtime associate Anne Mary Vesey to speak about his "quest for the impossible dream."
"He's not really after money, he's really after this religious relic," Vesey said. "His plans are to place it in the Vatican."
Treasure hunters familiar with the legend can't pinpoint its origin. But according to Bouchlas, the Golden Madonna was created in 1655 when Spain's King Phillip IV ordered an unknown Peruvian artist to cast a life-size gold statue of the Madonna and child, each with double crowns encrusted with gems.
The king ordered it shipped home via a Spanish treasure armada. It was supposedly secured in an 8-foot locked iron box, crown jewels wrapped in lambswool.
"No one is to know of the gold casting or the cargo but those appointed by my hand," Bouchlas quoted from a "secret order" of Phillip IV. "Let the imbeciles who cast the statue be destroyed forever."
By Zoe Forsey, Senior Reporter
UK - The man who found 159 Roman coins in Sandridge had been using a metal detector for the first time when he made the discovery.
Wesley Carrington found the hoard, which is believed to be one of the biggest of its kind ever found in the UK, in October last year.
In total 159 coins were found in private woodland in Sandridge.
The coins, which show mints representing a number of parts of the empire including Rome, Milan, Trier and Thessalon Opolis, were found in private woodland in Sandridge.
They feature at least five emperors including Honorius, Arcadius and Theodosius.
Mr Carrington found the first 55 on a trip out with his new metal detector during his first ever attempt to find buried treasure.
He said: “I’d never done it before.
“I bought the cheapest [metal detector] that the closest shop did and this was the closest area of woodland to where I live.
UK - SHOW a metal detectorist someone who thinks history’s dull and they’ll show you someone who’s never held pieces of it in their hands.
It’s all very well reading about Romans or Saxons or the Civil War, but for a detectorist there’s nothing to beat, say, unearthing a coin and knowing that the last person to hold it was the Roman who lost it, and that he probably swore in Latin when he got to the tavern or the bath house and reached into his toga for some cash.
The same goes for uncovering a brooch last worn some time before the birth of Christ, or a musket ball flattened as it struck bone on its way through some unfortunate Cavalier or Roundhead.
Next month, members of Swin-don’s 40-strong Wyvern Historical and Detecting Society will explore sites in Aldbourne which were home to the American 110st Airborne as they prepared for the Normandy landings.
The society was invited by local historian Terry Gilligan to go in and search for artifacts of the ‘Band of Brothers’ and their comrades ahead of planned alterations to a local sports field.
Authorities are searching for Tommy Thompson, left, and Alison Antekeier.
COLUMBUS, OHIO - A Franklin County judge has appointed a receiver to take over the companies of salvager Tommy Thompson and has directed the receiver to bring up more treasure from the SS Central America shipwreck if that’s possible.
Thompson and his crew recovered several tons of gold from the shipwreck in the late 1980s using $12.7 million from investors, most of them from central Ohio. Although the gold was sold for an estimated $52 million in 2000, investors received nothing.
That sparked lawsuits, including the eight-year legal fight that Common Pleas Judge Patrick E. Sheeran has presided over. Thompson and a group of investors are on one side, and two investors — The Dispatch Printing Company, which owns The Dispatch, and the late Donald Fanta — are on the other.
Fanta and Dispatch Printing sued in 2005, arguing that Thompson’s Columbus Exploration and Recovery Limited companies were dysfunctional and had not issued financial reports for years. Plans to recover more treasure from the shipwreck, which could have provided returns for investors, never materialized, the lawsuit said, and Thompson had become elusive and secretive.
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
KEY WEST, Florida (ABC 4 News) - Cross Marine Projects of American Fork likes to get its feet wet. The company has gained a global reputation for finding things in lakes and oceans - things that other people have lost.
Cross is perhaps on the verge of it's biggest find to date. It's a find that could change history and make some people very rich.
A Cross team was recently in Key West, Florida. They used the tourist Mecca to stage an exploration of sea floor about 10 miles South. Their objective: a Spanish ship that sank nearly four centuries ago.
They believe the ship might have been part of a fleet heading to Spain in 1622 with New World treasure. Off the Florida Keys the fleet ran headlong into a hurricane.
The most famous of that fleet, Nuestra Senora de Atocha and Santa Margarita, were discovered in the mid 1980's by treasure hunter Mel Fisher. The gold and silver he brought up was worth an estimated $450 million.
By David Self Newlin
SALT LAKE CITY — Gold may be beautiful, elegant, and extremely valuable, but the process for extracting it is nasty, poisonous, expensive and inefficient.
But science is full of serendipity, moments of accidental discovery like finding penicillin hiding in plain sight in a petri dish. Zhichang Liu, a post doctorate at Northwestern University, had just such a moment in the lab when he accidentally discovered a new method for extracting gold in a totally green way.
Liu was intending to build nanocubes to store gasses and large molecules. But what he ended up getting when he mixed cornstarch, gold and a potassium-bromide compound was needles.
"Initially, I was disappointed when my experiment didn't produce cubes, but when I saw the needles, I got excited," Liu said. "I wanted to learn more about the composition of these needles."
It turns out, the needles were composed of gold nanowires, leading to the possibility that the process could be repeated, scaled up and produce a method for extracting gold that is cheap, effective and non-toxic. And it is very specific for gold, excluding other chemically similar elements like platinum and palladium.
Currently, gold is extracted using extremely poisonous cyanide salts and gasses. It leaves behind difficult-to-clean waste that stays in the environment for quite some time.
However, Liu's new method uses alpha-cyclodextrin, a cyclic sugar with six glucose molecules. That, plus the potassium-bromine compound, are easy to clean. It can extract gold from raw sources or from gold scraps, meaning it could find a use in recycling consumer electronics.
"The elimination of cyanide from the gold industry is of the utmost importance environmentally," said Sir Fraser Stoddart, the Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. "We have replaced nasty reagents with a cheap, biologically friendly material derived from starch."
Courtesy: KSL TV
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla., May 9, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Blue Water Ventures International, Inc. (the "Company") (OTCBB:BWVI) today announced the long awaited launch of Phase II of its operations and plans for its 2013 season exploration of shipwrecks on the east coast of Florida and several sites in Central America. Additionally, the Company is exploring the feasibility of additional projects in Caribbean waters, including the Bahamas and Dominican Republic. The Company is currently acquiring additional vessels and has assembled skilled crews to pursue these projects. Its mission is to locate and recover artifacts and treasure from historic sunken ships, whose cargos offer vast material, intellectual, and social rewards.
About Blue Water Ventures International
BWVI is a historic shipwreck research and recovery company that locates and recovers lost treasures dated from pre-colonial times to our recent past. During Phase I of its operations, it has recovered historical treasure and artifacts from the 1622 Spanish fleet carried by the galleon Nuestra Santa Margarita, that succumbed to hurricane force winds off the coast of Key West, Florida. The Company located treasure from the Santa Margarita using state of the art technology and recovered an estimated $16 million in gold, silver and natural pearls along its widely dispersed shipwreck trail. After splitting the treasure with its joint venture partner, the Company values its portion of this treasure at $6+ million.
CEO, Keith Webb stated that becoming a publicly traded company and the combined aspects of a successful 2013 dive season is exactly what we at BWVI have envisioned.
A portion of the Margarita treasure can be viewed at our website: www.BWVINT.com.
By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff
PORTLAND, Maine — More than a year after Portland-based treasure hunter Greg Brooks announced he was on the verge of salvaging $3 billion in precious metals from the shipwreck of the World War II-era British freighter Port Nicholson, his team remains a frustrating distance from holding that bounty.
“We know that this stuff is on board and it’s frustrating not to be able to go down and just grab it,” Brooks told the Bangor Daily News Wednesday. “It’s right there. It’s 650 feet to 700 feet under us.”
Over the past 14 months, Brooks and his Sub Sea Research LLC have seen at least two proposed partnerships fizzle with underwater robotics makers — whose equipment is necessary to break into the sunken ship’s steel hull and, if there is platinum and gold inside, bring the heavy weight to the surface.
Additionally, Brooks said, he’s facing renewed enthusiasm for claiming ownership by the British government, which he believes aims to strip him of his rights to what would be a record shipwreck treasure.
It hasn’t all been bad news, however.
Along the way, the Maine captain said his team has uncovered additional evidence proving the legitimacy of his claims that the Port Nicholson was carrying a top secret shipment of precious metals, and he now believes a new agreement with the high-profile machinists at the Waterboro-based Howe & Howe Technologies will provide him with robotic equipment capable of finishing the job.
Co-owners Mike and Geoff Howe shot into the public view with their now-famous Ripsaw unmanned U.S. Army tank and a 2010 reality show on the Discovery Channel, and have stayed in the limelight with prominent appearances of their gear in Hollywood blockbusters, including this spring’s “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”
Brooks, who said a year ago he’d already emptied a $6 million budget for the project and acknowledged Wednesday he has lost “a lot of [additional] money” on the two failed robotics deals prior to bringing Howe & Howe on board, now said he needs a last big investor.
First mate Keith Sonnemann (left) and Doug Pope stand on the deck of the Polly-L. The research vessel is having work done in dry-dock in Green Cove Springs.
By Drew Dixon
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - Nassau Sound is known for its tricky waters to navigate, shark infestations and a remote, narrow pass where the Nassau River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Doug Pope also sees the sound as a possible site of treasure from the long-lost Spanish galleon San Miguel that wrecked in 1715. Pope is president of Amelia Research & Recovery LLC, based in Fernandina Beach, and his quest to find the San Miguel’s loot is the basis of his business.
Pope said the find of a jeweler’s furnace in 1993 near Amelia Island is believed to be from the ship that was part of a fleet of about a dozen that went down during a hurricane nearly 300 years ago. The treasure salvaging season for Pope commences in about two weeks, when area waters are most calm.
INDIA - A total of 117 ancient and priceless gold coins, a small gold plate and two silver anklets were found in an agricultural field in a village in Kadambur block in Sathyamangalam taluk.
The coins reportedly belong to the period of the Vijayanagara dynasty but this is yet to be confirmed by officials of the Archaeology Department.
A group of workers stumbled on a pot which contained the treasure, when they were harvesting tapioca tuber in a field in Karaliyam, a village located inside the Kadambur forests in Sathyamangalam block, about two weeks ago.
It was said that the workers shared the treasure.
On learning about the incident, Sathyamangalam Tahsildar K. Kannappan along with the police personnel went to the village and took possession of the coins, each weighing about 400 milligrams, silver anklets and gold plate.
The treasure that had been unearthed was later handed over to Collector V.K. Shanmugam on Wednesday evening.
“The coins have pictorial inscriptions on them suggesting that they were minted during the Vijayanagara period. The anklets are small and they may be worn by the children. The coins are to be studied further,” Mr. Shanmugam said.
Officials said the antique coins would be handed over to the Archaeology Department for further study.
Interestingly, a similar treasure pot with a large number of gold coins was unearthed in another village in Kadambur block in July 2010.
A total of 744 coins were found in a pot that was unearthed by a farmer in Kottamalam village.
The coins were later handed over to the district administration.
Courtesy; The Hindu
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