'Holy Grail of shipwrecks' containing sunken treasure 'worth up to $20 billion' to be exhumed

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By James Kay

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A shipwreck which has been dubbed the "holy grail" of sunken treasure worth up to "$20 billion" is set to be exhumed.

If you've been looking for a reason to sail the seven seas in the hope of finding buried treasure, then let this be that sign you've waited for.

Gone are the days of pirate ships prowling the seas in the hope of securing some plunder, but that doesn't mean that there aren't still riches out there.

For example, Sir Francis Drake, a British Privateer known for his ability to sink ships and steal their cargo, had amassed a great fortune when he died.

A fortune that is still believed to be buried somewhere, waiting to be discovered...

But that's not what this story is about, as this centers around President Gustavo Petro of Colombia, who has issued a directive to expedite the retrieval of the Spanish galleon San José, currently resting on the floor of the Caribbean Sea.

The president is determined to see this endeavor through before his term concludes in 2026, and he is calling for a public-private partnership to ensure its success, as confirmed by Minister of Culture Juan David Correa in an interview with Bloomberg.

"This is one of the priorities for the Petro administration," stated Correa. "The president has told us to pick up the pace."

The core issue that casts a shadow over this monumental endeavor revolves around the contentious matter of ownership. The vast treasure, consisting of gold, silver, and emeralds, is estimated to be worth anywhere between $4 billion and an astonishing $20 billion, according to legal documents filed in a lawsuit.

The heart of the dispute hinges on who can lay claim to this historical fortune.

The San José galleon, carrying a crew of 600, met its watery grave some 2,000 feet beneath the waves on June 8, 1708, during a fierce battle against the British in the midst of the War of the Spanish Succession. For centuries, its exact resting place remained a mystery.

Then, in 1981, a US-based company by the name of Glocca Morra asserted that it had discovered the long-lost treasure and subsequently handed over the coordinates to Colombia. In return, Glocca Morra anticipated receiving half of the treasure's value once it was successfully salvaged.

In 2015, Colombia's then-President Juan Manuel Santos made a startling announcement, claiming that the country's navy had located the San José wreck, albeit in a different location on the seabed.

To add to the complexity of this saga, Colombia has never officially disclosed the precise coordinates of the ship's final resting place. Glocca Morra, now known as Sea Search Armada, strongly believes that Colombia came upon a part of the same debris field in 2015 that they had originally discovered 34 years earlier.

Sea Search Armada has brought a lawsuit against the Colombian government, seeking half of the treasure's estimated worth, which amounts to a staggering $10 billion. They invoke the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement in their claim, as reported by Bloomberg.

Minister Correa, on the other hand, refuted Sea Search Armada's contentions, stating that the government's researchers had investigated the coordinates provided by the company and concluded that no shipwreck existed in that location.

Featured image credit: Pobytov/Getty

'Holy Grail of shipwrecks' containing sunken treasure 'worth up to $20 billion' to be exhumed

vt-author-image

By James Kay

Article saved!Article saved!

A shipwreck which has been dubbed the "holy grail" of sunken treasure worth up to "$20 billion" is set to be exhumed.

If you've been looking for a reason to sail the seven seas in the hope of finding buried treasure, then let this be that sign you've waited for.

Gone are the days of pirate ships prowling the seas in the hope of securing some plunder, but that doesn't mean that there aren't still riches out there.

For example, Sir Francis Drake, a British Privateer known for his ability to sink ships and steal their cargo, had amassed a great fortune when he died.

A fortune that is still believed to be buried somewhere, waiting to be discovered...

But that's not what this story is about, as this centers around President Gustavo Petro of Colombia, who has issued a directive to expedite the retrieval of the Spanish galleon San José, currently resting on the floor of the Caribbean Sea.

The president is determined to see this endeavor through before his term concludes in 2026, and he is calling for a public-private partnership to ensure its success, as confirmed by Minister of Culture Juan David Correa in an interview with Bloomberg.

"This is one of the priorities for the Petro administration," stated Correa. "The president has told us to pick up the pace."

The core issue that casts a shadow over this monumental endeavor revolves around the contentious matter of ownership. The vast treasure, consisting of gold, silver, and emeralds, is estimated to be worth anywhere between $4 billion and an astonishing $20 billion, according to legal documents filed in a lawsuit.

The heart of the dispute hinges on who can lay claim to this historical fortune.

The San José galleon, carrying a crew of 600, met its watery grave some 2,000 feet beneath the waves on June 8, 1708, during a fierce battle against the British in the midst of the War of the Spanish Succession. For centuries, its exact resting place remained a mystery.

Then, in 1981, a US-based company by the name of Glocca Morra asserted that it had discovered the long-lost treasure and subsequently handed over the coordinates to Colombia. In return, Glocca Morra anticipated receiving half of the treasure's value once it was successfully salvaged.

In 2015, Colombia's then-President Juan Manuel Santos made a startling announcement, claiming that the country's navy had located the San José wreck, albeit in a different location on the seabed.

To add to the complexity of this saga, Colombia has never officially disclosed the precise coordinates of the ship's final resting place. Glocca Morra, now known as Sea Search Armada, strongly believes that Colombia came upon a part of the same debris field in 2015 that they had originally discovered 34 years earlier.

Sea Search Armada has brought a lawsuit against the Colombian government, seeking half of the treasure's estimated worth, which amounts to a staggering $10 billion. They invoke the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement in their claim, as reported by Bloomberg.

Minister Correa, on the other hand, refuted Sea Search Armada's contentions, stating that the government's researchers had investigated the coordinates provided by the company and concluded that no shipwreck existed in that location.

Featured image credit: Pobytov/Getty