A CONTROVERSIAL hoard of dazzling treasure has finally gone on display in a massive victory for the Spanish government.
It comes after a five year court battle against the American deep-sea treasure-hunting company Odyssey over ownership of the hidden haul, estimated to be worth nearly €400 million.
The 8,000 coins on display are part of a much larger hoard, found by Odyssey aboard a Spanish frigate – the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes – sunk by the British in 1804 off the coast of Cadiz.
Despite an international ban, the company illegally hauled their discovery – a trove weighing 17 tons – back to the United States from its resting place near the Strait of Gibraltar.
But the Spanish government recognised the coins being shown off in the US media and brought legal action against Odyssey to have the coins returned.
The victory is a ground-breaking step in the fight against companies like Odyssey, which scour the world’s ocean floors in search of treasure.
“This is an unprecedented international triumph against plundering and the illegal traffic in cultural heritage,” said Jose Maria Massalle, Spain’s secretary of state for culture.
The exhibition, at ARQUA – the National Sub-Aquatic Archeology Museum in Cartagena, Murcia – focusses on Spain’s fight to recover the 580,000 coins.