A Battle For Sunken Treasure

April 2, 2012 by staff 

A Battle For Sunken Treasure, A court battle over treasure from an old Spanish shipwreck has reached Gibraltar, where descendants of the sunken cargo’s owners are fighting to win back part of the booty from Spain.

The British-administered territory has been drawn into a tangled squabble between Spain, US treasure hunters and the Latin American descendants, in a case harking back to the days of the Spanish empire.

Mathilde Daireaux Kinsky, an Argentinian who lives in Colombia, says part of the cargo of the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, sunk by the British in a sea battle in 1804, belonged to her ancestor Diego de Alvear y Ponce de Leon.

A Spanish general in the colonies at the time, he was not on board himself but lost his wife and seven of his children along with his precious coins in the shipwreck, Daireaux told AFP.

“We are not doing this for the money. We are seeking respect for the memory of our family members who died on board the Mercedes,” said Daireaux, 49, one of six descendants claiming the treasure in the Gibraltar courts.

Odyssey Marine Exploration, a company that specialises in salvaging deep-sea wrecks, hauled the treasure — mainly gold and silver coins mined and minted in the former Spanish colonies — from the seabed off Portugal in 2007.

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