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Supreme Court Denies Cert in Black Swan Case
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Supreme Court Denies Cert in Black Swan Case

From The Telegraph:

The US Supreme Court has refused to grant a final appeal to a Florida company that discovered treasure on a sunken Spanish vessel but was then ordered to return the gold and silver to Spain.

The Court did not give a reason for refusing the request from salvage specialist Odyssey Marine Exploration, which recovered 17 tons of silver and gold from the wreck of the “Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes” five years ago. 

The decision effectively confirmed a February 1 ruling by a federal court in Atlanta that the ship, which was sunk in 1804 near the Strait of Gibraltar during a battle with the British fleet, remained the property of Spain. 

The ship was found in May 2007 at a depth of 1,700 feet in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal. It was returning from Peru.  The Court also refused an appeal from Peru, which had sought to prevent the treasure being returned to Spain.

Read old posts on the Black Swan case on CPAL.

13 Comments

  • That the SC did not take the case was not surprising. That the Appeals court didn’t reverse the District Court’s decision, though, was alarming. The political influence exerted by the State and Justice Departments in this case was shocking and wrong-headed. Laws don’t seem to mean anything anymore in this country if you are politically connected or wealthy. What kind of message does this send to American small business and the rest of us (99%)?

  • Well, at least it might bail out the Spanish Economy for a bit.

  • No, the message is that you must have sound legal arguments, as Spain had against tasure hunters (not “small business”, Mary).The legal position defended by Spain is exactly the same the US does.
    Derby: the pieces recovered, although the archaeological site has been destroyed by Odyssey (including human remains), will enhance Spanish and common cultural heritage. It is not money, it’s heitage!

  • Nationalism has reared its ugly head several times in the past century and here it comes again, this time with the approval and collusion of the U.S. government. No good will come of this and the ramifications may well exceed the value of the object lesson. Who will look for objects from the past when the search becomes a beacon to retentionist ideologues? Archaeologists want total control, but they can’t even manage what they have on their plate now. The coalition between archaeology and government is a cancer of the worst kind and will eventually devour all private interest in the past. Who will fund academia and museology then?

  • “It’s not money, it’s heritage!” Seriously? Are you saying this with a serious face?

  • Of course! Because I thought I was posting a comment in a serious blog. Now that I’ve realized it is not, I will simply delete it from my list and forget your ignorance about Spanish legislation, history and motivations.

  • If we are talking heritage, then the coins go to the Peruvians. Unless you posit that exploiting the natural resources of a region and decimating its indigenous population through forced labor is part of the cultural heritage of Spain.

  • Just out of curiosity, Mariano, how are these tens of thousands of identical coins going to enhance Spanish and common cultural heritage? In my view, this is a VERY serious blog and I would suggest that you are ignoring a considerable aspect of the question. Where is the benefit to world heritage? Many of the descendants of those who labored to produce these coins and transport them live today in places far removed from Spain or Peru for that matter. At least Odyssey would have made them accessible to all who love the past and in doing so inspired a great many people to worthy pursuits and productive thoughts about other cultures. Coins are a bond between people, as opposed to the wedge between them that modern governments tend to create.

  • Thanks for the piece, Kimberly. What a travesty this has been…

  • Mariano could not handle the heat. Oh well.

  • Kim – like your comment about exploiting natural resources and forced labor being part of Spain’s cultural heritage. However, both of those are part of the history and cultural heritage, not just of Spain but of all colonizers. But that is also part of the history and cultural heritage of Peru as well. And since the coins had never actually been in Spain, the balance here shifts to Peru. Given that the production of the gold coins was a joint venture between the colonizer and exploited, the product should now go to the country previously exploited to make up for the previous injustice. Law and politics don’t see it that way, but morally we should not be rewarding countries for previous exploitation and normalizing genocidal relations.

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