Spanish authorities in Madrid allowed for the first time this week view of the shipwreck Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes and its treasure worth some $500 million.
The galleon sank off near Portugal over 200 years ago.
Only a small part of the pieces were in displayed for the media. The total haul weights some 17 tons and includes more than half a million of silver coins and 200+ gold coins. Spanish authorities have been studying and inventorying the treasure since it was moved from Florida to Spain last February after a long legal battle with American company Odyssey the marine exploration company that found the lost galleon.
1to1languages: spanish lesson online via skypeSpain is expected to move the treasure to its National Museum of Underwater Archaeology in the small city of Cartagena, Murcia.
Spain took over the treasure after an American judge ordered Odyssey to return the treasure to Spain. Odyssey always argued that the galleon was not in fact the Mercedes, and if it was the ship was on a commercial trip when it sank, therefore, Spain could not claim the cargo, as it can be done on international law when a ship in disputed was sank as an act of war.
The metals were actually mined and the coins minted in what today are Bolivia, Peru and Chile. In fact, Spain won a last minute legal moved by Peru, who was trying to blocked the treasure to be move to Spain. Peruvian lawyers said that even though at the time of the sank, it was still a colony of Spain, the fact that the crown had a local seat in Peru, should give some or all ownership of the treasure. The judge rejected that claimed.
Spain has promised Bolivia to loaned some items of the treasure for displayed in museums
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