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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 5 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 (5)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by and-then 27 days ago
I wonder when Smaug will arrive? 
Comment icon #2 Posted by Cho Jinn 27 days ago
Don’t you mean $21 Billion?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Antigonos 27 days ago
This is the first time that I’ve heard of an entire galleon being raised to get at its treasure. Need to find out more because there are some points the article doesn’t address. Is the ship in unusually good condition? After three centuries under saltwater most if not all wooden ships are in such bad shape they can’t be raised in one piece. Do they know where in the hull the treasure is stored? There’s the problem of losing treasure as the ship is raised if it’s not sealed or reasonably securely contained in one spot. What is the depth of the water it’s lying in, and what’s the ... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hankenhunter 27 days 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 26 days ago

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