From shipwreck in Italy, a treasure now beckons
By Vanessa Gera - MSNBC
In the chaotic evacuation of the Costa Concordia, passengers and crew abandoned almost everything on board the cruise ship: jewels, cash, champagne, antiques, 19th century Bohemian crystal glassware, thousands of art objects including 300-year-old woodblock prints by a Japanese master.
In other words, a veritable treasure now lies beneath the pristine Italian waters where the luxury liner ran aground last month.
Though some objects are bound to disintegrate, there is still hoard enough to tempt treasure seekers — just as the Titanic and countless shipwrecks before have lured seekers of gold, armaments and other riches for as far back as mankind can remember.
It may be just a matter of time before treasure hunters set their sights on the sunken spoils of the Costa Concordia, which had more than 4,200 people on board.
"As long as there are bodies in there, it's considered off base to everybody because it's a grave," said Robert Marx, a veteran diver and the author of numerous books on maritime history and underwater archaeology and treasure hunting. "But when all the bodies are out, there will be a mad dash for the valuables."
The Mafia, he said, even has underwater teams that specialize in going after sunken booty.
The Costa Concordia was essentially a floating luxury hotel and many of the passengers embarked on the ill-fated cruise with their finest clothes and jewels so they could parade them in casinos and at gala dinners beneath towering chandeliered ceilings.