Sunday, July 21, 2024

Colombian Government Seeks To Raise Multibillion-Dollar Treasure From Sunken Spanish Galleon, But Who Has Rights To It?


The Colombian government recently announced plans to recover the cargo of the sunken 18th-century Spanish galleon San Jose, but questions remain as to whom will take home the close-to-US$20 billion (~€18.7b billion) in gold and gems.

The 62-gun ship fought in a skirmish off Cartagena with the Royal Navy in June 1708, resulting in its sinking.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has ordered his government to prioritize the recovery of the nearly 200 tons of gold, silver and other jewelry.

Culture Minister Juan David Correa told Bloomberg:

“This is one of the Petro administration’s priorities. The president has told us to accelerate the timeframe.”

The Colombian government claims it discovered the wreck in 2015, but the company Sea Search Armada (formerly called Glocca Morra) asserts it found the site in 1981 and is demanding half the value of the treasure.

Additionally, Peru and Panama along with the Bolivian indigenous nation Qhara Qhara have also laid claims on it.

Colombia hasn’t divulged the precise location of the shipwreck, nor a timeframe for the treasure’s recovery.

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.