New battle waged over "Mercedes" treasure trove

New battle waged over "Mercedes" treasure trove
Part of trove may be headed for museums in America. Cádiz stakes its claim as ship was heading there when sunk

Now that the "Mercedes" coins have finally arrived in Spain it seems that everyone wants to claim them.

Some 30 entities have filed petitions with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports asking to house the historic treasure plucked from the underwater grave of Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes. The mostly silver pieces were the subject of a legal battle with Odyssey Marine Exploration, which discovered the trove in 2007.

José Ignacio Wert, the minister for education, culture, sports and education, told a news conference Monday that the decision as to where the 594,000 silver and gold coins will go on display has not yet been made. But he didn't rule out donating samples to museums in the United States and Latin America.

"We are not going to pass the coins out one-by-one," said Wert. "The idea is to allow as many people as possible to enjoy the coins."

Among the petitions for the coins is one from Cádiz City Hall. Officials there said the treasure should rightfully be displayed in the southern city because the Mercedes was headed there when it was sunk in 1804 by the British navy. "Cádiz is not going to be kept out [of this decision]," said Mayor Teófila Martínez.

Odyssey's discovery set off a legal battle in the US federal court system, which ended earlier this month when the US Supreme Court denied the Tampa, Florida shipwreck hunter's final request to keep the coins.

Posted originally: 2012-02-28 12:51:47

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New battle waged over "Mercedes" treasure trove