|Judge rules against Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. in treasure dispute |
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo speaks to reporters about the so-called Odyssey treasure case in Madrid, Spain, 01 February 2011. Following the announcement that the US Supreme Court has ordered the Tampa-based company Odyssey to return 380 million euros worth of gold and silver coins discovered in 2007 on the shipwrecked Spanish frigate Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Garcia-Margallo said the judgement sets a legal precedent to which future treasure hunters would be bound. EPA/Juan Carlos Hidalgo.
By: Mitch Stacy, Associated Press
TAMPA (AP).- An attorney for the Spanish government said a federal judge's ruling Tuesday means Florida deep-sea explorers will have to start making plans to hand over 17 tons of silver coins and other treasure from a sunken 19th century galleon.
Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. found the treasure off the Portuguese coast in 2007 in the wreck of what is believed to be the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, which was sunk by British warships in 1804.
Last year, a federal appeals court in Atlanta affirmed a Tampa judge's ruling that Odyssey must give the treasure back to Spain. The company then requested a stay of court proceedings as it continued its legal fight to keep the treasure.
In court documents, the exploration firm said a stay of the court proceedings is needed to prevent Spain from keeping the treasure as U.S. courts continue to consider the case. But in an order Tuesday, a federal judge in Atlanta denied Odyssey's motion for a stay.
James Goold, a Washington lawyer representing the Spanish government, said once the mandate is returned to the federal court in Tampa, the original order from the court will be reinstated. Goold said that means Odyssey will have to return the treasure to Spain within 10 days, although he expects another hearing in Tampa soon so he and Odyssey attorneys can again discuss the situation with a judge.
Odyssey said it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case, but Goold said the request doesn't stop the clock on the company being forced to hand over the treasure to Spain. Tuesday's decision, he said, "removes the latest effort by Odyssey to delay the inevitable."
"Odyssey, I believe, will have to explain how they are going to comply with the orders, how they are going to do it properly and in a timely fashion," Goold said.
Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey vice president and general counsel, declined to comment in an emailed statement because the court hadn't yet issued its mandate.
In Madrid, Spanish Culture Minister Jose Ignacio Wert said Tuesday's decision was a major victory in his country's bid to bring the treasure home.
"This verdict will give Spaniards back a treasure of incalculable historical value," he said in an interview on Spanish National Radio.
Wert said Spanish authorities are already making plans for how to carefully transport the treasure from Florida to Spain and inspect the coins after arrival. They plan to "put all the coins and objects in the hands of specialists for proper restoration and to prevent future damage," Wert said in the statement.
"After the restoration, we'll proceed to distribute the objects between collections of natural museums where they will be the subjects of study, research and exhibition," he said.
Odyssey made an international splash in 2007 when it recovered the coins and other artifacts from the depths using a remote-control underwater vehicle and brought the loot back to Tampa via Gibraltar. At the time, experts speculated the coins could be worth as much a $500 million. They are still in Odyssey's possession in an undisclosed location.
Almost immediately, the Spanish government filed a claim in federal court in Tampa claiming that it never relinquished ownership of the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes and its cargo.
Odyssey had argued that the wreck was never positively identified as the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes. And if it was that vessel, then the ship was on a commercial trade trip not a sovereign mission at the time it sank, meaning Spain would have no firm claim to the cargo. International treaties generally hold that warships sunk in battle are protected from treasure seekers.
The Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes was sunk by British warships in the Atlantic while sailing back from South America with more than 200 people on board.
Goold has said it was no more appropriate for Odyssey to strip the wreck of coins to sell to collectors than it would be for someone to loot the remains of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
February 3, 2012
Städel Museum in Frankfurt opens exhibition of Claude Lorrain's enchanted landscapes
From shipwreck in Italy: Thousands of art objects including 300-year-old woodblock prints
Ships, sea monsters, seashores, shells, sirens and sea maidens are all to be discovered in vibrant exhibition
Sotheby's to hold a single owner sale of property from The Collection of Giovanni & Gabriella Barilla
Judge rules against Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. in treasure dispute
Works made from motifs in everyday life by Wilhelm Sasnal on view at Haus der Kunst
Bill & Melinda Gates visitor center in Seattle is more than a philanthropy museum
Winfred Rembert: Amazing Grace Images on Leather at the Hudson River Museum
Walker Art Center's Sarah Schultz appointed Director of Education and Curator of Public Practice
Lee Adler, former president of the Historic Savannah Foundation, dies at 88
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says World Trade Center design flaw could cost millions
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts appoints Jennifer Jankauskas as Curator of Art
Inscribed copy of Ernest Hemingway's first book tops Heritage Auctions' February rare books event
High Museum to feature folk artist Bill Traylor
First major solo show by British video-maker Elizabeth Price at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Exhibition featuring works by post-war and contemporary Russian artists at Erarta Galleries Zurich
World-class Contemporary artists donate works to 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
Gold nuggets stolen from $3M courthouse collection
Actor John Travolta to donate jet to Ga. museum
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Colossal statue of Amenhotep III unveiled on the west bank of the Nile in Egypt
2.- British royals crown New York visit with gala dinner
3.- Missing artwork rediscovered in "Stuart Little" sells for over 200,000 euros at auction
4.- Rossetti's Venus Verticordia soars at Sotheby's in London to sell for £2.88 million
5.- Russian magnate buys, then returns Nobel prize to American geneticist James Watson
6.- Egyptian Museum unveils four newly renovated halls of the famed Tutankhamun gallery
7.- 'The Secret of Dresden: From Rembrandt to Canaletto' on view at the Groninger Museum
8.- Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum reopens after three-year renovation
9.- More than 200 queries about works by possible heirs received on Nazi-era art hoard
10.- Attorney, artist and filmmaker reflects on the seven lessons learned at 2014 Art Basel Miami Beach
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|