Family finds $300,000 in sunken gold
The amateur treasure hunters were searching the wreckage from a convoy of ships downed by a hurricane nearly 300 years ago.
Rick and Lisa Schmitt and their two grown children discovered the gold chains and coins at a legendary wreck site off the coast of Florida, Reuters reports. Nearly 300 years ago, a hurricane took out a convoy of 11 ships sailing from Havana to Spain. Of the estimated $400 million in treasure on board, about $175 million has been recovered.
That means there's a lot of gold hiding in the depths.
A company named 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels LLC owns the rights to the wreckage, Reuters reports, and allows subcontractors like the Schmitt family to hunt around for treasure. The company says that more than 2 million silver coins and an untold amount of gold have yet to be recovered.
The family doesn't get to keep the entire find, however. The treasure first goes into the custody of federal court in south Florida, Reuters reports. The state can take as much as 20% to display in a museum, and the remainder will be split between the Schmitt family and the company that owns the wreckage.
This kind of adventure is the norm for this family of amateur treasure hunters. The son who is responsible for the find, Eric Schmitt, found a silver platter worth $25,000 in 2002, when he was a sophomore in high school, Reuters reports.
In 2010, one Florida woman found a 5.5-inch-tall statue of a gold bird while examining one area near the shipwreck. Even though one of the bird's wings is missing, the statue was appraised at $885,000, according to 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels.
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