Adventure Travel

Billion Dollar Treasure Found On Sunken Spanish Ship

By  | 
Anchor, wooden planks, ropes, pulleys, tackle, and rigging of an old replica of a 1400's era sailing ship

Image: Shutterstock/Richard A McMillin

Billion Dollar Treasure Found On Sunken Spanish Ship

A sunken Spanish ship, the San Jose, was recently discovered off the coast of Colombia, and the billion dollar treasure is unsurprisingly already causing conflict. Colombia, Spain, and the U.S. are all in a discussion regarding ownership of the ship’s wealth. The Spanish galleon is an early 18th century ship that was found with a treasure of gold, silver, and jewels. This is arguably the most valuable shipwreck ever discovered. The treasures round out to one billion dollars, according to President Santos of Colombia. The ship left the shores of Colombia and sank more than three hundred years ago. Archaeologists and salvagers have known the approximate location of the ship for quite some time.

The salvage company, Sea Search Armada based out of Bellevue, Washington, is going against the government of Colombia for the rights of ownership to the galleon and its treasures. The salvagers claim they discovered the ship more than thirty years ago. A legal battle will officially commence to make the final call.

Charles Beeker, Director of the Center for Underwater Science at Indiana University, is helping Colombian authorities manage their ocean territories to protect shipwrecks in their boundaries. Beeker believes the treasure should not be allowed to leave the country. Beeker also informed officials that the ship is likely to contain even more value than their billion dollar estimate. Crewman have a history of smuggling aboard their own treasures, such as gold and gems. On average, shipwrecks are worth twenty percent more than they are originally valued. Beeker’s argument is that the treasure was originally stolen from Colombia’s indigenous people, which makes it rightfully theirs.

James A. Goold, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney, has represented Spain in previous shipwreck cases, and he believes Spain is likely to end up with the treasure. Goold has stated that in similar cases the treasure goes to the country whose flag was planted on the ship. Usually, the treasure can’t be moved without the consent of the country that owns the ship.

There are many varying arguments for the sunken Spanish ship, and we can be certain of one thing—it will be some time before a settlement is reached.

Kate Wilke is the content manager at 301brands, and she's the editor of, and the lifestyle editor at When she's not paddle boarding or skiing, she's informing someone about global warming (or cats) over a local double IPA. Follow her on Instagram — @kateewilke

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *