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Archaeology & History

'Holy grail of shipwrecks' worth $20 billion to be raised from the seabed

By T.K. Randall
November 6, 2023 · Comment icon 13 comments
The San Jose goes down during the battle of Cartagena.
Nobody can agree on who actually owns the gold. Image Credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Samuel Scott
A 300-year-old Spanish galleon carrying enormous amounts of gold and jewels could soon see the light of day again.
Discovered in 2015 off the coast of Colombia, the 62-gun galleon San Jose went down on June 8, 1708 along with 600 members of its crew while engaged in a battle with the British during the War of Spanish Succession.

The wreck of the San Jose was a particularly significant find because it was thought to be carrying a treasure trove of gold and jewels worth around $20 billion in today's money.

Now, three centuries after it fell beneath the waves, the ship is set to be raised by the Colombian government before President Gustavo Petro ends his current term in office in 2026.

The move, however, has generated an ongoing dispute between the Colombian government, the Spanish government and various other third parties over who actually owns the gold.
US-based salvage firm Sea Search Armada is suing for half the value of the treasure on the basis that it was the first to find the shipwreck, while the Colombian government disputes this claim, instead insisting that its own navy divers found it at a different location.

Spain, meanwhile, also disputes Colombia's claim to the treasure owing to the fact that the San Jose is a Spanish vessel, while the Qhara Qhara indigenous people of Bolivia have also entered the ring on the basis that its people were forced to mine the gold and jewels that the ship was carrying.

Others, again, believe that the shipwreck is a war grave and that it should simply be left alone.

All in all, the whole thing is a bit of legal quagmire and it remains unclear who will actually end up with the treasure if and when the San Jose does get raised from the ocean floor.

Source: Mail Online | Comments (13)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hankenhunter 9 months ago
A legal quagmire of epic proportions. This will be an even bigger fight than the Atocha was.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Still Waters 9 months ago
Comment icon #6 Posted by Still Waters 2 months ago
Latest: The Colombian government has started exploring a sunk 18th Century Spanish galleon dubbed the “holy grail of shipwrecks”. The South American nation has also declared a protected archaeological area around the San José galleon - which was sunk by the British Royal Navy in 1708 in the Caribbean Sea. The ship, whose ownership remains contested, was carrying one of the largest hauls of valuables ever lost at sea when it was attacked just outside of the Colombian city of Cartagena. It is estimated to be laden with as much as £16bn ($20bn) in treasure. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articl... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Bed of chaos 2 months ago
I just watched Atocha: Quest for Treasure (YouTube). It's very fascinating. 10yr search, cost millions, multiple deaths, including Fishers son. Pretty wild. Got any good book recommendations about this?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Hankenhunter 2 months ago
Sorry, no. I've watched a couple of documentaries on it. I'll see if I can find them. Ha, found the mother load. You Tube Atocha documentaries has it all.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Bed of chaos 2 months ago
All good, I'll look around.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Hankenhunter 2 months ago
You Tube has a great library on the Atocha. Just found it. Along with a ton of great photos of the treasure.?
Comment icon #11 Posted by Bed of chaos 2 months ago
Yep. After documentary I watched "Atocha Treasure" video from museum. The emerald rings and cross look magnificent.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Hankenhunter 2 months ago
Yeah, my jaw dropped when I saw what they retrieved. 
Comment icon #13 Posted by Bed of chaos 2 months ago
I'm browsing book titles. First one that came up "Fatal Treasure: Greed and Death, Emeralds and Gold". 

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