Sunken treasure stirs international booty battle
By Mike Celizic
Courts will decide who owns $500 million haul found off coast of Portugal.
If he’s a pirate who’s made off with a half-billion-dollar booty haul, as Spain says he is, Greg Stemm didn’t look the part. Sporting a closely trimmed gray beard and wearing a sport coat with a black shirt and matching slacks, he never once said “Arrrr” or “matey.” He didn’t even have an eye patch or a parrot perched on his tweed-upholstered shoulder.
But what Stemm, the CEO of Odyssey Marine Exploration, does have in a warehouse somewhere in Florida is a haul of hundreds of thousands of coins — gold pieces of eight and silver coins — that the Spanish government says belongs to the people of Spain.
A U.S. District Court judge who has been hearing arguments in the case since last year is expected to rule soon on who is the rightful owner of what is reported to be the largest treasure ever recovered from the deep.