The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Thursday, September 18, 2014


Peruvians feel robbed over Spain getting treasure
In this photo taken Feb. 25, 2012, some of the 17 tons of silver and gold coins scooped up from a Spanish warship, Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, that sank during a 1804 gunbattle are downloaded from a military plane and carried to a warehouse after the planes carrying the treasure landed at the Torrejon De Ardoz military airbase, near Madrid. Two Spanish military C-130 transport planes landed out from Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base with the 594,000 coins and other artifacts retrieved after a five-year legal wrangle with Odyssey Marine Exploration company who had found the shipwreck off the Portuguese coast and flew the treasure back to the U.S. via Gibraltar in May 2007. AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza.

By: Carla Salazar, Associated Press
Frank Bajak, Associated Press

LIMA (AP).- We were robbed! That's how many Peruvians feel, now that U.S. courts have given Spain the 17 tons of silver and gold coins that a private company salvaged from the wreck of a colonial-era Spanish sailing ship.

The treasure's origin is not in dispute. The metals were mined and the coins minted in the Andes. The Spanish navy frigate that was carrying them to Spain exploded during an attack by British warships in 1804.

Peru argued it should get the precious metal recovered from the Nuestra Senora de Las Mercedes. But its legal case was sunk in large part by a historical fact: This country was, at the time, a Spanish dependency. It didn't gain independence until 1821, the last bastion of Spanish rule in South America.

"It is uncontested that the Mercedes is the property of Spain," a three-judge U.S. appeals court ruled in September.

Many Peruvians, however, feel they are entitled to the booty because of colonial Spain's violent, exploitative legacy. Countless natives of the Andes were forced to abandon home and family and toil in life-choking conditions extracting ore underground.

"Spain's progenitors were genocidal to our progenitors, the indigenous of Peru, thousands if not millions of whom died in underground mines going after that metal," said Rodolfo Rojas Villanueva, an activist with the eco-cultural movement Patria Verde.

Other Peruvians would be happy to get a share of the 594,000 coins, whose value has been estimated at $500 million, not so much as reparations but because they are Peru's heritage.

Spanish officials flatly reject any Peruvian claim.

Spain's culture minister, Jose Ignacio Wert, received the treasure with considerable fanfare Feb. 27 after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid by Peru to halt the shipment. Wert said U.S. courts were clear: "The legacy of the Mercedes belongs to Spain."

The coins, mostly silver reals but also gold doubloons, came from ore mined in present-day Peru and Bolivia and likely also Colombia and Chile. It's not clear exactly what portion was minted in Lima, Spain's continental capital after its conquistadors subjugated the Incas.

Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa, Florida, recovered the treasure in 2007 about 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of the Strait of Gibraltar and placed it in the custody of U.S. courts, which declared the find exempt from their jurisdiction and ordered it turned over to Spain.

Peru and Odyssey have appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn those rulings.

Peru's government says the coins are the country's patrimony.

"There existed an entity, a country that had not yet become independent but was a territory that later converted itself into an independent country, that is called Peru," said Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde, foreign minister in the 2006-2011 government of President Alan Garcia. "The money belonged to that territory."

Peru's ambassador in Washington, Harold Forsyth, put it less abstractly: "The ship departed from the port of Callao (adjacent to Lima) with a cargo of coins minted in Peru, extracted from Peruvian mines with arms and sweat of Peruvians."

Peru has fought previously for archaeological artifacts lost to the developed world. Under Garcia, it successfully campaigned to persuade Yale University to agree to return hundreds of items taken from the famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu a century ago by the U.S. explorer Hiram Bingham.

In the case of Las Mercedes, it is not just Odyssey and Peru laying claim to the doubloons and reals.

Others include descendants of the ship's captain, Diego de Alvear Ponce de Leon, and of merchants who Odyssey says collectively owned three-quarters of the coins. Those merchants paid Spain a 1 percent conveyance tax.

"In essence, this is an expropriation," said Rafael Fernandez de Lavalle, a Colombian who claims about 800 silver coins and a small chest from Las Mercedes. "It is really upsetting that they can rob you in such a brazen manner."

He is descended from one of the merchants, a Peruvian-born count, Jose Antonio de Lavalle y Cortes, who exported cacao to Spain, and belongs to a group of 17 mostly Peruvian families who have also appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Spanish historians generally defend their country's right to the coins. But some think the nations of origin should be able to display some of it.

"It would be very good to send a part, if only as a loan, as a message of fraternity," said Marina Alfonso, a historian at UNED University in Seville.

Wert, Spain's culture minister, said his nation has not ruled out allowing some of the coins to go on display in Latin America, but stresses it would only be on loan.

Alfonso said most of the recovered silver almost certainly came from Potosi, part of present-day Bolivia and once the world's richest silver lode.

Bolivia's culture minister, Pablo Groux, said numismatic experts have determined the coins were minted in four places: Lima; Popayan, Colombia; Santiago, Chile; and Potosi.

He said his country has formally requested a share of the treasure but decided not to litigate, considering its case weak.

"We think the strategy should be diplomatic," he said.

___

Associated Press writers Franklin Briceno in Lima, Jorge Sainz in Madrid, Vivian Sequera in Bogota, Colombia and Carlos Valdez in La Paz, Bolivia contributed to this report.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.



Today's News

March 14, 2012

First major presentation of Claude’s influence on Turner opens at the National Gallery

Gustav Klimt: The Drawings at Albertina pays tribute to the phenomenal draftsman

Landmark Metropolitan Museum exhibition considers two centuries that shaped the Medieval world

Sotheby's Hong Kong to hold 20th century Chinese art Spring sale 2012 in April

David Zwirner to open two major galleries in London and New York in 2012

New brochure from Claremont Rug Company highlights spectrum of art-level 19th century Oriental carpets

Royal Ontario Museum announces scientists name two new species of horned dinosaur

Nejad Devrim to lead Sotheby's London sale of Contemporary Turkish art this April

Chinese snuff bottle auction at Bonhams highlights New York Asia Week

Modern and Contemporary South Asian art sale on 19 March announced at Sotheby's

Dallas Museum of Art announces creation of three new positions to enhance leadership team

Contemporary art expert Amelie von Bülow appointed as Bonhams representative in Cologne

Antiques Roadshow discovery valued at $1 million to appear at auction at Sotheby's

Tom Burr explores the physical and psychological dimension of objects at Bortolami Gallery

Picasso sketch for Diaghilev Ballet costume to feature in Bonhams next Impressionist auction

Lynda Benglis: Prints and Cast Paper from the 1970's-2000's on view at Goya Contemporary

Peruvians feel robbed over Spain getting treasure

Doris Salcedo's "Mute Prayer" opens at Maxxi in Rome

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers inaugural Denver auction drwas standing room only crowd

Original works by Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead guitars up for auction at Bonhams

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Fever mounts as stunning statues found at Alexander The Great-era tomb

2.- Hi-tech underground scans reveal vast complex of monuments at Britain's Stonehenge

3.- National Geographic Museum opens exhibition featuring shark-munching Spinosaurus

4.- First major New York City exhibition to explore Vienna Actionism opens at Hauser & Wirth

5.- Elizabeth I 'airbrushed' for 18th century make-over and a bug is found in Edward VI

6.- Award winning Swedish director Daniel Fridell to direct Kalliope Films' Vincent Van Gogh biopic

7.- Comprehensive retrospective exhibition of Joan Miró's work opens at the Albertina

8.- Synchrotron radiation technology in art conservation: Science to the rescue of art

9.- Mona Kuhn's first solo exhibition in the US opens at Edwynn Houk Gallery

10.- Sotheby's announces details of its sales series for Property from the Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon



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, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site