Fortune hunters ordered to disclose shipwreck location to Spain
MIAMI — A Florida adjudicator has structured a group of treasure hunters to inform Spain the precise site of a shipwreck in the Atlantic from which it recovered a massive trove of gold and silver, court documents illustrate. Odyssey Marine has two weeks to inform Spanish authorities of the spot where it found the world's biggest maritime treasure, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a federal judge in Tampa. The information will remain confidential to protect the interests of the company, which fears other treasure seekers may poach its find. Judge Mark Pizzo said the company had to provide the "exact location" of the wreck, as well as a listing and description of all the artifacts uncovered to date. Spain is also to be given the opportunity to inspect the treasure brought to the surface. Odyssey Marine insists the shipwreck is located in international waters, but has refused to disclose its accurate location. Spain argues that the treasure hunters have to show they have not taken the treasure from Spanish territorial waters. The argument began in May when Odyssey announced that it had found half a million silver coins and hundreds of gold objects, somewhere in "international waters in the Atlantic Ocean". The company said a specialist recommended offering the silver coins at retail prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to 4,000 dollars each, depending on the condition, date and origin. "The gold coins are estimated to bring substantially higher numbers," Odyssey said. Odyssey flew its 17-tonne haul from Gibraltar to its US headquarters in Florida in May. The Spanish administration filed claims with the court in Tampa, arguing that if the shipwreck was Spanish or located in Spanish waters, any treasure would belong to Spain. Odyssey argued that the reality the coins have been identified as being Spanish does not signify they were established on a Spanish ship. Spanish police seized and searched two Odyssey Explorer vessels as they left the British territory of Gibraltar off Spain's southern tip, in July and October, acting on the orders of a Spanish judge looking into the origin of the sunken treasure. Pizzo in November ordered the two sides to hammer out a confidentiality agreement so Odyssey could disclose details to Spanish officials without making the information public. The dispute has even reached the White House, with Madrid formally asking Washington in July to defend the right of states over sovereign ships containing archeological remains.
Tags: Information , Remain , Confidential , Protect
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