Last week I reported on the potential $500 million dollar haul of coins pulled by Odyssey Marine Exploration of a wreck referred to the “Black Swan”. Several papers are reporting on the possible identity of the wreck and the potential ownership of the wreck by Spain. Spain has claimed that the wreck is both in Spain’s territorial waters and of Spanish origin. Current speculation places the wreck either 40 miles off the coast of Cornwall in southwestern England, opposite Spain’s northwestern coastline, or in the Strait of Gibraltar.
A Spanish newspaper boldly stated the “Black Swan” was indeed off Gibraltar and published a picture from a port employee showing a coin with a bust of King Charles III, ruler of Spain in the 18th century, suggesting the ship was indeed Spanish.
“What we’re seeing here is a presumed incidence of plundering,” First Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said Friday in the papers.
Greg Stemm, co-founder of Odysssey Marine Exploration, denies the accusations. First stating that “Black Swan” is located in the Atlantic in international waters and the coin featuring Charles pictured in the papers is not from the wreck. “We have stated clearly that the recovery was conducted in conformity with Salvage Law and the Law of the Sea Convention, beyond the territorial waters or legal jurisdiction of any country. We do not believe that the recovery is subject to sovereign immunity by any nation pursuant to the Law of the Sea Convention.”
Of course everyone is speculating about the identity of the ship. Some are saying the Black Swan is HMS Sussex or the Merchant Royal. As to the Sussex, Odyessy maintains that they “can confirm the Black Swan is not HMS Sussex“. The Merchant Royal was a English Merchant Ship from the 17th century lost of Corwall in 1641. On board 100,000 lbs of gold, 400 bars of Silver, and another 500,000 coins. The Sussex was a 80-gun English warship lost off Gibraltar 1694 with a possible 10 tons of coins.
But don’t fret! It looks like you may be able to purchase one of the coins through the Franklin Mint.