February 21st, 2012

Spain Finally Sees Shipwreck Coins

COINage readers know well the story of Odyssey Marine’s “Black Swan” project.

Doesn’t ring a bell on the main deck of your mind?

Odyssey Marine recovered approximately 17 metric tones of gold and silver coins and other artifacts in 2007 from the Atlantic Ocean floor after finding the wreck off the coast of Portugal thanks to a remote-controlled underwater robot. The operation took the coins and objects from the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a Spanish frigate that was intercepted and sunk by the British in 1804. The treasure hunters then moved the trove to Gibraltar before taking most of it back to Florida — to the fury of the Spanish authorities.

In the ensuing American legal battle, Spain successfully defended its claim that it maintained ownership of the ship after more than 200 years as part of its historical property rights under international law.

Odyssey continued to challenge Spain’s ownership claims. The tides never did turn completely in Odyssey’s favor.

Now, nearly five years of legal battle in the U.S. appear to have come to a close. Or have they? Read the entire story here.



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