A lifetime’s odyssey helps Spain

LAST UPDATED: 23 Jan, 2012 @ 12:14
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A lifetime’s odyssey helps Spain

CABRA-born historian Antonio Moreno Hurtado boasts a career spanning 35 years documenting the history of his town.

Indeed, he has published more than a dozen books on Cabra.

But it is his crucial role in the battle between Spain and the US ‘treasure hunt’ company Odyssey that has won him his most widespread recognition.

For thanks to his work, it was ruled last week, that the US firm must return to Spain a hoard of over 590,000 gold and silver coins minted in Peru.

In August 2009, the historian chanced upon documents that proved key to the whole case regarding the frigate Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, which sunk off the Algarve in 1804.

While sifting through old naval records in research for a book, he discovered a government order dated from 1802 which commanded the Mercedes to bring money back from the Americas.

The seven documents proved that the Mercedes, which was sunk by the British Navy, was travelling under the orders of the crown and not on a commercial voyage as argued by the Florida-based salvage company.

Armed with these documents Spain has now won the historic victory.

A three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals in Atlanta has sided with Spain and ruled that the treasure salvaged by Odyssey in 2007 should be handed back to the Iberian nation.

And it is in no small part thanks to Moreno.

13 COMMENTS

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  1. Carlos, where do you think the silver and gold came from before it got on to the boat lol? That’s right, Spain plundered it all. It does not rightfully belong to Spain or the US.

    There are a few modern-day henchman in your country too Carlos, aren’t there? They are called mayors.

  2. Odyssey needs to be paid salvage costs and a big profit on top – the rest of the treasure should be placed in a museum in the country of its origin.
    This and other past and future sunken/hidden treasures would never have been found without the professionalism, endurance and financial risk of companies like Odyssey.

    Lets face it, most Governments, in this case the Spanish authorities, neither have the interest nor the ambition looking for the needle in a haystack, plus I seriously doubt they could find the bottom in a kiddie pool …….

  3. Aussie, let me remind you this is a Spanish forum for Spanish issues. Some British politicians are definitely on the make, but compared to Spain they are saints. Notice how justice was served quickly in the UK, imprisonments and punishments. Contrast that to here where cases ramble on for years and expelled politicans are often back in power again.

    And yes, the Elgin Marbles should be returned, and I take it you agree that the silver and gold recovered from the ship should be returned to South America I take it? Or are you a selective hypocrite? ;)

  4. fRED!! WE AGREE on the same topic. Yes, the Elgin Marbles
    should be returned and the gold recovered from the ship should be returned to South America..but which country/countries in south America should receive it?? AS the existing contries did not exist back to the Spanish Rule of South America.

  5. Glad you agree Aussie, so why didn’t you say that to begin with?

    The Spanish plunderers will just have to give it back to Peru. Yes, the ship was Spanish, but the valuables it carried were taken from Lima – the coins were minted in Peru. Lima existed when the looting took place, so that’s a good place to start. You can read more about Peru’s claim from an older article here:

    http://en.mercopress.com/2009/06/06/peru-joins-odysseyspain-dispute-over-recovered-sunken-treasure

    Mr Hurtado says that all the coins in La Mercedes belongs to Spain because they were brand new (nuevo cuño) and not coins already in circulation, and somehow that justifies that they belong to Spain. Looted coins, new or old, are still looted.

  6. Without “reasonable and fair” compensation for expenses & profit for the Finders, I see no incentive for exploration firms to risk time/life and money on finding sunken treasure. OR, they will find it and also ways to “protect it” for themselves. If lost/sunken treasure is SO important to the cultural heritage, etc of the country claiming it – WHY aren’t they spending THEIR time/life/money to find it for their people? Maybe it’s easier to let OTHERS do all that, then just “claim it”.

  7. Odyssey made a big mistake. They should have first located the hoarde and then enquired about ownership. When this bunkum argument by Snr Hurtado was put forward and the US madly agreed with it, Odyssey should just have left the area and told Spain to find it and retrieve it themselves, or at least levy a fee (50% say)to salvage it. Don’t make the same mistake twice Odyssey.

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