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Shipwreck That Carried 17 Tons of Coins
By CoinNews.net

The name of a 17th-century shipwreck bearing 17 tons of silver and gold coins discovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration may finally be known. News accounts have reported the estimated value of the treasure trove at around $500 million. Whether true or not, the potential value drew immediate attention and a resulting legal battle between Odyssey and Spain.

Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo issued a ruling yesterday denying an Odyssey motion to protect the identity of the shipwreck.

Resulting court fillings revealed that the conclusive identity of the sunken ship Odyssey code-named the "Black Swan" could not yet be made, but they also suggest a possible linkage to Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes y las Animas, a Spanish vessel that sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 1804.

Last year Spain filed legal claims contending the discovered 17-ton treasure of silver and gold coins found at the site is a part of their country’s cultural heritage and should be returned. Odyssey said the treasure was found in international waters and was legally retrieved.

Odyssey had hoped to keep aspects of the shipwreck a secret. In an Odyssey release yesterday entitled Court Seeks Public Disclosure of Odyssey’s Hypotheses Regarding Shipwreck Cases, Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer said,

“As our Motion for Protective Order explained, we had hoped to maintain the confidentiality of information we consider to be speculative. Experience has shown us how difficult it is to prevent unwarranted speculation about the identity and potential value of our finds once the possible identity of a site is made public, but we also respect the need to make sufficient information public to satisfy the requirement to alert potential claimants.”

Odyssey also indicated that it had information under review which may be inconsistent with the hypothesis that the wreck site is that of the Mercedes.

In a response today, Spain’s attorney Lawyer James Goold was quoted in the Reuters’ article, Spain rejects U.S. treasure-hunters’ shipwreck claim:

The answer Odyssey provided to the court included preposterous claims such as that 17 metric tons of silver coins and hundreds of other artifacts may have (been) thrown overboard from a mystery ship.

“We are proceeding full speed ahead with our investigation and will set the record straight in our May 9 answers to the court about the identity of the shipwreck."

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