Treasure Worth $17 Billion Found in ‘Holy Grail of Shipwrecks’

Discovery of the Spanish galleon San Jose had been kept a secret for three years.

san jose
This undated image made from a mosaic of photos taken by an autonomous underwater vehicle, released by the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History, shows the remains of the Spanish galleon San Jose, that went down off the Colombian Caribbean coast more than 300 years ago. (Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History via AP)

A Spanish galleon laden with gold was found off the coast of Colombia three ago with the help of an underwater autonomous vehicle operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). But the discovery of the San Jose, which sunk on June 8, 1708, had been kept a secret for years. Only now, with permission from the Colombian government, has WHOI released new details about this amazing discovery. The exact location of the wreck of the ship, often called the “holy grail of shipwrecks,” was long considered to be a never-ending mystery.

The three-masted, 62-gun galleon went down on June 8, 1708, with 600 people on board. When it sunk it was also full of treasure, including gold, silver and emeralds worth as much as $17 billion in today’s dollars. The treasure is now the subject of legal battles between several nations and private companies. Several weeks ago, UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, asked Colombia to not commercially exploit the wreck. The exact location remains a state secret.

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