David Klinger forwarded this story about latest in the S.S. Central America case. Thanks! -Editor
Treasure hunters who found the long-lost wreck of the SS Central America cannot claim "finders keepers" for the ship's
$300 million bounty of 19th century gold, a federal judge ruled.
The sidewheel steamer sank in a hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas in September 1857, carrying 9.1 tons of gold, 477 passengers
and 101 crew members. The ship plied the waters from Central America to New York and was carrying gold from the California Gold Rush when
it went down. Loss of the enormous shipment contributed to the financial panic of 1857.
Columbus-America Discovery Group found the wreckage of the "Ship of Gold" in 1989. The Central America and her booty, believed
to be worth $300 million or more in today's market, have been the subject of legal turmoil ever since.
After the discovery and initial haul, Recovery Limited hired deep-sea experts Odyssey Marine Exploration group to continue excavating
the Central America. More gold and artifacts were recovered, including an 80-pound gold ingot that sold for $8 million.
But U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith on Aug. 11 denied Recovery Limited title to the wreck, finding that salvage rights preclude
the maritime law of finds, which was intended for naturally occurring valuables, such as ambergris and whales.
"A free finders-keepers policy is but a short step from active piracy and pillaging," Smith wrote. "Were this court to
allow Recovery Limited Partnership, the current salvor-in-possession, to enjoy immediate title to the artifacts it has recovered since
early 2014, then the court would risk an 'unsupervised rush to the site to recover anything that could be grabbed.' The public
interest in historic shipwrecks would be diminished, if such an 'unsupervised rush' to sunken treasure were to result."
Neither Ira O. Kane, the court-appointed receiver for Recovery Limited nor Odyssey Marine Exploration responded to requests for
I understand that the law on these matters is very complex subject, and that there is a difference between finders law and salvage law.
We'll stay tuned for further developments. . -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
No 'Finders Keepers' for Shipwreck
Wayne Homren, Editor
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