Supreme Court upholds $500 million in coins that US treasure hunters had recovered belongs to Spain. Odyssey Marine Exploration claim to have discovered the Spanish frigate Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes recovered its treasure in 2007 resulting in a legal challenge from Spain.
Lower courts ruled that the recovered cargo had come from the Spanish frigate Mercedes, which exploded and sank in 1804 while returning from South America. The ship’s remains and its cargo were the sovereign property of Spain.
Urging the high court to take up the case, lawyers for Odyssey Marine argued that Spanish sovereignty did not apply to the coins and other artifacts because Spain was not in possession of the cargo.
The lawyers also argued that 75 percent of the recovered cargo had been privately owned and was merely being transported by the warship at the time it sank.
The case made headlines in February when the 17-ton treasure was loaded onto two Spanish Air Force cargo planes at a military base near Tampa and flown to Spain.