The Odyssey discovery of the "Black Swan" 17-ton gold and and silver coin treasure, its recovery and legal battle with Spain over it will air Thursday, April 2, on the Discovery Channel’s "Treasure Quest."
The episode is likely to be the most fascinating of the season, and on Tuesday, excellent background and a preview of what to expect was provided by the TODAY show.
In May 2007, Florida-based deep-sea shipwreck exploration firm Odyssey Marine Exploration recovered the discovered treasure trove at a site the company code-named the "Black Swan." Soon after, a legal battle erupted in Federal court over the ownership of the Colonial-era coins.
Spain contends the coins are national patrimony as they belonged to the Mercedes, a Spanish warship that sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 1804. Odyssey says the treasure was legally retrieved, that there is no evidence it came from the Mercedes, and even if it did, the ship was carrying a merchant cargo which is fair game for anyone.
"The Mercedes, if it was the Mercedes, was carrying a merchant cargo," Greg Stemm, the CEO of Odyssey Marine Exploration, told TODAY’s Ann Curry Tuesday.
"While governments can take a sovereign immune warship and say that nobody can salvage it, they can’t say that you can’t salvage goods on behalf of merchants. In fact, we have the descendants of a lot of the merchants that had goods aboard the Mercedes that have come into court and said, ‘We think Odyssey should salvage these goods for us.’"
"And remember, there is not even a shipwreck there," Stemm added. "This is like several football fields of just coins, scattered out over the bottom."
For more, watch the above embedded 6 minute video, Battle over buried booty. The Treasure Quest episode about the Black Swan will air on the Discovery Channel at 10 p.m. ET, on April 2.