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$500M shipwreck treasure given up by U.S. company shown for the first time

November 30, 2012 in Coins, Gold, Gold Coins, Silver, Silver Coins, Spain Coins, Treasure

BY ALAN CLENDENNING ASSOCIATED PRESS (http://www.detroitnews.com) Nov, 30th, 2012

Madrid — Spanish cultural officials allowed the first peep Friday at some of the 16 tons (14.5 metric tons) of shipwreck treasure worth an estimated $500 million that a U.S. salvage company gave up this year after a five-year ownership dispute.

Only a tiny portion of the haul from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, a galleon that sank off Portugal’s Atlantic coast near the straits of Gibraltar in 1804, was shown to the media: 12 individual silver coins, a block of encrusted silver coins stuck together after centuries underwater, two gold tobacco boxes and a bronze pulley.

Authorities, who have been inventorying the treasure since it was flown from Florida to Spain in February, said it will be transferred later this year from Madrid to the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology in the Mediterranean city of Cartagena. Displays are expected to start next year, with some items put on rotating temporary displays at museums across the country.

Though previous estimates have put the value of the treasure at $500 million, Spanish officials said they weren’t trying to determine an amount because the haul is part of the nation’s cultural heritage and can never be sold under Spanish law.

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