When the Spanish ship Capitana sank during a hurricane 300 years ago, the treasure it carried went down with the ship. On June 17, a family of shipwreck hunters located and brought the lost fortune back to the surface.
Eric Schmitt and his family found more than 50 gold coins, 40 feet of gold chain, and more than 100 silver coins and buttons. All together, their haul is worth about $1 million! The treasure was found just 1,000 feet off the coast of Fort Pierce, Florida.
The Capitana was the flagship of the 1715 Fleet, which included twelve ships meant to transport riches—mainly precious metals—from Spanish colonies in the Americas to Spain. The fleet set sail on July 24, 1715. But a hurricane struck six days later on July 30, sinking all but one ship. The Schmitts waited until late last month to announce their find, to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the fleet’s sinking.
The Schmitts have been salvaging these 11 shipwrecks since 2010. They were hired by the company 1715 Fleet Queen Jewels. It has exclusive rights to the wrecks, which means only this company can salvage the sunken ships. They’ve already identified six of the 11 lost ships, but are looking forward to hunting for the remaining five.
Of all the ships they’ve excavated to date, this is the Schmitts’ biggest find. One of the coins recovered from the wreck was the extremely rare Tricentennial Royal. These coins—of which only six are known—were made specifically for King Philip V who ruled Spain from 1700 to 1746. Unlike other coins of the time, which were often misshapen, the Royal is much rounder and carefully decorated. The Royal alone is worth about $500,000!
The state of Florida is entitled to 20% of the treasure's total worth. If the booty is valued at a total of $1.2 million, how much money will Florida receive?