Cirebon

Indonesia says China interested in shipwreck treasure

Cirebon underwater treasure


From AFP


China has shown strong interest in buying a massive haul of shipwreck treasures found off Indonesia after a final auction Thursday in Jakarta failed to attract a single bidder, a senior official said.

Like the two previous auctions held by the Maritime Affairs Ministry earlier this year, no investors paid the hefty 16-million-dollar deposit required to bid.

The auction committee's secretary at the ministry, Aris Kabul, said the Chinese government was interested in the haul salvaged in 2004 off Cirebon, West Java.

"We held talks with the Chinese government and our plan is to keep these treasures in museums in China and Indonesia," Kabul told AFP.

"I think it will the best solution so that this rich treasure will be preserved properly by museum experts," he said adding that both countries had not reached any agreement yet as details were still being discussed.

The collection comprises some 271,000 pieces including rubies, pearls, gold jewellery, Fatimid rock-crystal, Persian glassware and exquisite Chinese imperial porcelain dating back to the late 10th century.

Belgian treasure hunter Luc Heymans who conducted the salvage operation said it was one of the biggest shipwreck treasures ever found in Asian waters.

"The Chinese are very interested as this treasure is unique and there are no similar collections in any museums in China," he told AFP.

He said the investors involved in the salvage operation hoped for a quick solution so they could get their profits.

"We have taken huge financial risks in the operation and it's logical for us to get our money back soon," he added.

According to him, the operation cost about 10 million dollars.