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Sunken Treasure Goes on Display in Madrid

Posted: Dec. 6th, 2012  |  By Michael Pearse

After a lengthy five-year ownership dispute, a small portion of the nearly $500 million dollar treasure recovered from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes went on display in Madrid. Praised as a Spanish cultural treasure as valuable to that country as the Mona Lisa to France, the treasure will eventually make its way to the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology in Cartagena.

Spanish cultural officials allowed a first peek Friday at some of the 16 tons (14.5 metric tons) of shipwreck treasure worth an estimated $500 million that a U.S. salvage company gave up this year after a five-year ownership dispute.

Only a tiny portion of the haul from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, a galleon that sank off Portugal’s Atlantic coast near the straits of Gibraltar in 1804, was shown to the media: 12 individual silver coins, a block of encrusted silver coins stuck together after centuries underwater, two gold tobacco boxes and a bronze pulley.

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