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All Posts Tagged With: "Treasure"

Sea Search Armada Seeks Rights to 1708 Shipwreck and Treasure Coins Worth $17 Billion

Sea Search Armada, a US-based salvage company, claims the Republic of Colombia owes it $4 billion to $17 billion for breaching a contract granting it the right to salvage the galleon San Jose, sunk by the British Navy on June 8, 1708.

The Spanish galleon San Jose was trying to outrun a fleet of British warships off Colombia on June 8, 1708, when a mysterious explosion sent it to the bottom of the sea with gold, silver and emeralds owned by private Peruvian and European merchants, and lies about 700 feet below the water’s surface, a few miles from the historic Caribbean port of Cartagena, on the edge of the Continental Shelf.

Jack Harbeston, managing director of the Cayman Islands-registered commercial salvage company Sea Search Armada, who has taken on seven Colombian administrations during two decades in a legal fight to claim half the sunken hulk’s riches.

“If I had known it was going to take this long, I wouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place,” said Harbeston, 75, who lives in Bellevue, Wash.

The 41-page federal lawsuit outlines a long, tortuous jpurney through the Colombian courts after the Glocca Morra Co. identified six shipwreck locations, between 1980 and 1985, operating with permission of Colombia’s Direccion General Maritima.

Harbeston claims he and a group of 100 U.S. investors – among them the late actor Michael Landon and the late convicted Nixon White House adviser John Ehrlichman – invested more than $12 million since a deal was signed with Colombia in 1979 giving Sea Search exclusive rights to search for the San Jose and 50 percent of whatever they find.

Colombia tried to weasel out of the deal after Sea Search recovered materials from the ship, proving it was down there. Colombia “delayed signing the written agreement it had drafted, and eventually refused to sign the offer it had made to SSA,” the complaint states. But nonetheless Colombia refused to let it salvage the shipwreck.

All that changed in 1984, when then-Colombian President Belisario Betancur signed a decree reducing Sea Search’s share from 50 percent to a 5 percent “finder’s fee.” (more…)

Sedwick Auction To Feature Shipwreck Treasure, Gold Cobs and World Coins

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC announces the release of their Treasure and World Coin Auction #8, scheduled for October 21-23, 2010, comprising 2789 lots, by far their largest sale to date. For the first time Sedwick has incorporated “World Coins” into the title, as the auction features almost 1000 lots of general world coins.
As usual the auction will start with Gold Cobs, more than 50 of them this time (mostly from shipwrecks), including several of the finest known 1715-Fleet specimens: a full-date and exceptionally struck Mexican 8 escudos 1714 and 4 escudos 1715; a near-perfect Lima 2 escudos and probably the finest known Lima cob 1 escudo, both dated 1710 and encapsulated PCGS, the latter MS-64. Also there are no less than nine Fleet “bogeys” (Bogotá 2 escudos) in this sale.

The next section, World Gold Coins, contains over 300 lots, most of them Spanish Colonial “busts,” including: the finest known Mexican 1 escudo 1733/2, recovered by Marty Meylach from the 1733 Fleet and the inspiration for his book Diving to a Flash of Gold; a unique Santiago, Chile, 1 escudo, 1755/4, from the famous Eliasberg collection; and well over 100 Spanish colonial bust 8 escudos by date, most of them starting below melt value.

The Ingots section features a collection of large, natural gold nuggets, as well as several important 16th-century ingots (including “tumbaga”) and a unique silver “piña” ingot from the Atocha (1622).

“This is not just a treasure auction–it is also a world coin auction, our first big offering of gold and silver coins from countries all over the world.
Daniel Frank Sedwick

In Shipwreck Silver Coins bidders will find hundreds of Atocha (1622) silver coins, both rarities and wholesale lots, in addition to coins from dozens of shipwrecks around the world assembled by two different collectors.

The Silver Cobs sections for Mexico, Lima and Potosí contain no less than four Royals (round presentation specimens) in various denominations. The Lima listings are dominated by the collection of Robert Mastalir, including a nearly complete date-run of 1R that contains several unlisted overdates. Featured in Other Cobs is a Santo Domingo 4 reales of Charles-Joanna (one of very few ever offered at auction), as well as a large collection of dated cobs from mainland Spanish mints.

Following a short but varied Ancient Coins offering (the first for Sedwick), the expanded World Silver Coins section comprises over 600 lots, with particular emphasis on Colombia (featuring Part II of the Herman Blanton collection) and the British Isles (Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland). There is also a large collection of British Admiral Vernon medals.

“Our most important items are in shipwreck artifacts, however,” says Sedwick’s assistant Agustin “Augi” Garcia, whose new book The “Tumbaga” Saga about some conquest-period silver bars is being released at the same time. “Of particular significance is a unique Tarascan (Mexican) silver rodela (plate) from the “Tumbaga wreck” (ca. 1528), featured in my new book and the important link for figuring out what the silver ingots of that time were made of.”

The Shipwreck Artifacts section also features a large gold-and-emerald pendant and a gold religious medallion and chain from the 1715 Fleet, followed by many lots of small artifacts from the 1733 Fleet, the collection of Marty Meylach himself. Non-shipwreck Artifacts include a large selection of colonial-era weapons, mainly flintlocks and swords, as well as several natural history items like fossils and scrimshaw.

The auction is rounded out by Documents and Media (books and catalogs), ending with a special, full-color, hardbound, limited edition #1 of 50 copy of Augi’s much-anticipated book The “Tumbaga” Saga, which the author will personally inscribe to the winning bidder. (more…)

Odyssey Marine Exploration Files Appellate Brief in “Black Swan” Case

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX) has filed its Appellate Brief in the “Black Swan” case with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

In the brief, Odyssey demonstrates that the district court erroneously dismissed the case by using flawed legal analysis and by failing to acknowledge or understand several major aspects of the case, including the issue of sovereign immunity.

Odyssey’s brief cites the recent favorable ruling by the Eleventh Circuit for the salvor in the Aqua Log (Aqua Log, Inc. vs. State of Georgia, 594 F.3d 1330, 11th Cir. 2010) case. This ruling was made shortly after the district court ruled in the “Black Swan” case and is a beneficial clarification of sovereign immunity in support of Odyssey’s position. In the Aqua Log case, the Court ruled that the sovereign must be in possession of the salvaged items in order to claim immunity from the courts in an admiralty case.

“The precedent set in the Aqua Log case is very relevant to the ‘Black Swan’ case and Spain’s sovereign immunity claim. The Eleventh Circuit found, as we had argued to the district court in our case, that a sovereign could not claim to be immune from the jurisdiction of the court when it did not have possession of the salvaged goods. It’s clear that Spain never owned the majority of the cargo here and did not have possession of them either,” said Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel. “The district court apparently dismissed the fact that there was no vessel present at the “Black Swan” site. The concretions of coins found by Odyssey were scattered over an area bigger than six football fields, with no coherent ship’s hull or structure. Even if that cargo did come from the Mercedes, it is well documented that the majority of the Mercedes’ cargo was owned by private merchants who paid for its transport and the Mercedes was carrying paying passengers. Under well-established U.S. and international law, vessels on such commercial voyages do not have sovereign immunity.”

The opening brief also points out several erroneous factual findings and legal conclusions made by the district court including the following:

  • The district court did not conduct an evidentiary hearing on the disputed issues of fact, unquestioningly accepting testimony presented by Spain. This was a violation of due process for all of the claimants as well as Odyssey.
  • The district court erred in failing to recognize that the Defendant in the case (an in rem proceeding) was NOT Spain or a vessel owned by Spain. The actual Defendant in the case was the group of coins and artifacts (the res in this case) discovered and recovered by Odyssey.
  • (more…)

Gold Ingots from the S.S. Central America Pace Heritage Auction Results in Long Beach

All four gold ingots from the S.S.Central America made the Top 10 list in the auction results from Heritages Long Beach Signature Sale.

The top performer was the 55.05-Ounce Harris Marchand Gold Ingot. Recovered from the S.S. Central America. CAGB-135, serial number 6526. 55.05 ounces, 875 fineness, stamped value $995.73. Sold For $172,500

From Q. David Bowers, A California Gold Rush History: “Large size ingot. All inscriptions on face with bar horizontally oriented. $ leans sharply left. Reverse finessed or dressed by tapping.”

Though the firm Harris, Marchand & Co. did not last into June 1857, the gold bars stamped that way did, and three dozen bars from the Sacramento office received an unexpected gift of numismatic immortality: they were loaded onto the S.S. Central America, and instead of going to New York to be melted down, they landed at the bottom of the ocean, and over the course of more than a century, they transformed into historic treasures.

Like the majority of known Harris, Marchand & Co. ingots, this example shows irregular punching on the serial number, weight, fineness, and value. The arcing HARRIS MARCHAND & CO imprint and circular MARCHAND / ESSAYEUR stamp, however, are precise and elegant as ever.

The runner-up was the 48.65 Ounce Kellogg & Humbert Gold Ingot. Kellogg & Humbert Assayers, serial number 947, 48.65 oz, 780 fineness, $784.43 face value. Medium to large size, per the classification system by Q. David Bowers in his A California Gold Rush History. Sold for $103,500

Bowers devotes a solid paragraph to the unusual characteristics of this ingot (italics his):

“Inscriptions on face. 48 in weight double punched. Fineness first punched as 87, then corrected to 78 ($784.42), with erroneous under digits still visible. $ sign high, leans right, and touches upper left of 7. Vertically oriented. Reverse stamped with repetition of serial number, but in different font. One of the most amateurishly punched of the many Kellogg & Humbert ingots.”

The top face also shows numerous air bubbles and weakness on the “Kellogg & Humbert Assayers” stamp. Bowers does allow, however, that the S.S. Central America ingots’ individuality is core to their appeal, noting that “[s]uch idiosyncrasies make them fascinating to study.” (more…)

“Black Swan” Case to Move to Appeals Court

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. has received notification from the U.S. District Judge that he has adopted the Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation in the “Black Swan” case in favor of Spain.

black_swan_silver
Although the Judge complimented Magistrate Pizzo’s Report and Recommendation, he also made it clear that he felt a separate opinion by him would “add only length and neither depth nor clarity (and certainly not finality) to this dispute.” The Judge also stayed the order vacating the arrest warrant and the return of the recovered coins to Spain until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rules in the case, which serves to keep the coins in Odyssey’s possession pending the outcome of the case.

“Judge Merryday’s ruling serves to move this case to the appellate court faster, where we feel confident that the legal issues are clearly in our favor. The ruling yesterday does not affect the current operations of Odyssey, and we have not been counting on any revenue from the “Black Swan” in any of our budgets since it was clear that this case would go to appeal no matter which way the judge ruled,” said Greg Stemm, Odyssey CEO.

“We are moving ahead with our other current projects – and it is important for people to understand that the vast majority of our shipwreck projects don’t have the same potential legal issues that have surfaced in the “Black Swan” case. Our focus for 2010 is on projects that are either under specific permits with governments or commercial vessels.”

“We take heart from cases like the shipwreck of the Atocha, which seemed lost at the district court level but was won during the appeals process, granting the salvor the majority of the coins and artifacts from that shipwreck. The Central America shipwreck case was also reversed on appeal and the salvor’s position in the case of the RMS Titanic was substantially vindicated by the Fourth Circuit court of appeals in 2006, so the three most famous shipwreck cases to date were reversed on appeal. I believe that this shows that it is not unusual for district courts to miss key legal principles in shipwreck cases because of their complex admiralty issues. ” (more…)

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC announces the release of their Treasure Auction #6, October 15-16, 2009

Specialists in world coins and treasure items Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC has released their sixth and largest Treasure Auction, available immediately for viewing on their website, www.sedwickcoins.com. This auction features well over $1 million in coins, ingots, artifacts and books, almost all of it opening at very reasonable levels. Because of the size of the auction this time, Sedwick has split this sale into three sessions, all closing LIVE on www.iCollector.com/sedwick.

sedwick_6“After our first live Internet auction last time, we decided to hold our Treasure Auction #6 in three sessions to provide breaks and avoid bidders having to monitor the auction all day long to bid live on the lots they want,” says Sedwick. “Also there is no more confusion about the buyer’s fee, which is set at 18% for everyone (discounted to 15% for check or cash).”

Starting off Session I (Thursday, October 15, 11:00 am EDT) is a unique Mexican cob 8 escudos (possible) Royal 1709 (estimated at $35,000-$50,000), one of more than 70 gold cobs in this sale, mostly from the 1715 Fleet, including also an extremely rare Lima cob 8 escudos 1702 (estimated at $20,000-$30,000). World gold coins feature a Mexican bust 8 escudos 1733 PCGS AU-58 ($15,000-up) and a Paraguayan cut 4 pesos fuertes (1866-9) ($12,500-up), one of only two known. In the shipwreck silver section you will find a Cartagena cob 8 reales 1621 ($16,000-$25,000), first date of issue and one of three known, plus the Louis Hudson collection of Potosí countermarks 1649-52, as well as selections from the Atocha (1622) Research Collection and a newly formed “Coconut wreck” (ca. 1810) Research Collection.

The four silver-cob sections in Session II (Thursday, October 15, 4:30 pm EDT) feature a La Plata cob 1 real (estimated at $700-$1,000), the first ever offered at auction; a unique Potosí cob 2 reales specially struck on a zoomorphic planchet in the form of a double-headed condor ($25,000-up); the finest-known Panama cob 4 reales (estimated at $5,000-$7,500); and Part I of the extensive collection of late world-coins dealer Mark Bir. The world silver coins section, which is becoming larger and more advanced in Latin American coins with every auction, features several key rarities as well as Part I of the Colombian Republic collection of Herman Blanton.
(more…)