Two Spanish ships, loaded with the belongings of nobility returning to Spain with the armada in 1622 never made it past the Florida Keys.
It is believed that at least one of the ships was sunk by a storm.
Fast forward nearly 400 years. The sunken ship was found by a team of divers hunting for shipwrecks. Only in their dreams could they imagine what they found inside the ship when they swam upon the hull.
A Colombian emerald set in gold, dating back to the Renaissance period, was recovered from the shipwrecked Spanish galleon, Nuestra Señora de Atocha.
It will be among the fascinating, history-rich offerings at Sotheby’s sale of Masterworks on Friday Feb. 1 in New York during Old Masters Week. The treasure is estimated to sell for between $150,000 and $250,000.
The ship Atocha was commissioned by the Casa de Contractación, a Spanish government agency which attempted to regulate Spanish exploration and colonization efforts, and was named for Our Lady of Atocha, whose shrine in Madrid was regularly visited by Spanish kings.
The ship was constructed in Cuba and, after ill-fated attempts to depart the shipyard due to needed repairs, she finally crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Spain late in 1620.
Next, in Cartagena, Colombia and Portobelo, Panama, the galleon was loaded with the belongings of the noble families and other passengers making the return journey to Spain with the armada.
The fleet set sail for Spain with goods and passengers on September 4, 1622 in the midst of hurricane season.
Both the Atocha and the Santa Margarita only sailed as far as the Florida Keys before they hit a squall and sank along the reefs.