She once carried the greatest treasure in the world, consisting of 200 tons of emeralds, gold and silver coins. The vast wealth was to be used to finance the War of the Spanish Succession. However, this never happened. On June 8, 1708, the galleon San José unexpectedly sank. Exactly where has long been a mystery.
For decades, treasure hunters have been trying to find the shipwreck. It was only known that it should be somewhere between the Barú Peninsula and Isla Grande, south of Cartagena, Colombia.
It was not until 1981 that the American company Sea Search Armada announced that it had discovered San José thanks to advanced diving techniques. She agreed with the Colombian government to hand over the coordinates to her on the condition that she be entitled to half the fortune.
However, in 2015 something unexpected happened. Then-Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that his navy had found the wreck in another location and that the U.S. divers would not receive a reward. At the same time, the Spanish, who built the vessel in the 18th century, and the indigenous Bolivian nation of Qhara Qhara, who claim that their people mined the gold and diamonds, entered the game.
Wreck of the San Jose
The number of applicants for the “holy grail of shipwrecks” has frightened Colombian officials. They decided to leave the galleon under water. However, the current president, Gustavo Petro, has now announced that he plans to save the ship and its contents by the end of his term in 2026.
The question arose again as to who would get the treasure with an approximate value of 500 billion crowns. The situation is so serious that lawyers are already dealing with it. Sea Search Armada sued Colombia for 230 million crowns, even though the president suggested that a partnership be created for cooperation between the public and private sectors.
It seems as if San José is trying to go back in time. The incredible amount of change it carried was meant to finance the biggest armed conflict of the first half of the 18th century, in which all of Europe was involved, with the exception of Sweden and Russia. It started with a dispute over the Spanish throne after the death of Charles II. As then, the interested parties are interested in power and wealth.
No one yet knows how the fight for the treasure will turn out. However, it is already clear that the legal disputes will drag on for several years.
Resources: www.nypost.com, www.economictimes.indiatimes.com, www.dailymail.co.uk