Monday, November 05, 2007

Odyssey Marine in dispute with Spain over sunken treasure

The legal grappling between deep-sea explorers and the Spanish government over an estimated $500 million in sunken treasure could drag on for another year or more, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

A case management report filed in federal court indicated that Odyssey Marine Exploration, based in Tampa, and attorneys for the Spanish government agree on little beyond their ability to be ready for a trial sometime after Oct. 1, 2008.

Spain has filed claims to the vast treasure of Colonial-era silver and gold coins and other artifacts that Odyssey salvaged from an undisclosed shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean this year.

Spain contends it is entitled to the treasure if it or the ship belonged to Spain, or if the treasure was removed from Spain's territorial waters.

Odyssey, citing security concerns, has said publicly only that the wreck was situated in international waters, but an export document filed with the court last month indicated the treasure was found about 200 miles west of Gibraltar, a British territory at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.

An attorney for Spain has asked a judge to order Odyssey to disclose the exact location and identity of the shipwreck, which the company has code-named "Black Swan."

Odyssey were being put under the microscope last time I updated Tony's blog and there were some excellent summary articles on the Archaeology Magazine website about the problems with heritage management and ownership in maritime/underwater archaeology. Heather Pringle's overview, Profiteers on the High Seas, is excellent for anyone wanting to find out more.