What’s the explorers’ end game?

THE lawyer for the Spanish government acting on its international treasure recovery efforts says the artefacts of a 17th century Spanish galleon found off the coast of Grand Bahama should be in a museum and not for profit-making.

James Goold, an attorney with US law firm, Covington & Burling, who has represented the Spanish government on several of its sunken galleons around the world, told Tribune Business that it is “good news” that the remaining pieces of treasure of the Nuestra Senora de la Maravillas that sunk near Walker’s Cay in 1656 are not only still being retrieved after all of these years, but artefacts that were taken out of The Bahamas without government permission of the Bahamian government over the past several decades are also being brought back to the country.

However, he said the items in the new Bahamas Maritime Museum (BMM) in Grand Bahama are particularly underwhelming considering the amount of publicity that Allen Exploration has generated for the treasure hunt and subsequent salvage of the Maravillas.

The entire display consists of a few gold chains and about 20 gold and silver coins along with two solid silver bars and other miscellaneous, non-descript items that one would find on many vessesl of the period.

Mr Goold said: “That is interesting because they were doing a lot to hype this up for publicity’s sake.”

Whether or not the Spanish government would be interested in what Allen Exploration has stored at the BMM remains to be seen and if Allen Exploration will be charging exorbitant tickets to see the artefacts may be of interest to the Spanish government.

Mr Goold also noted: “Allen Exploration is doing their best to attract attention, which is unusual. I would very much like to know what the terms are of the relationship with the museum is for these things.

“Sometimes people put things up for display in a museum in order to prop up the sale price. This is common. With a museum they can persuade larger museums to display it and the pieces become more valuable.”

There are pieces at the BMM that are still not available for public viewing, but the BMM has engaged jewelers from around the world to help with valuing some of the precious gems they have found, Dr Michael Pateman, the BMM’s curator has revealed.

Mr Goold said: “If all of this is as public spirited as the people behind it are saying it is, it would be very good for them to provide more information on the relationship and the terms under which these artefacts are being given to the museum and whether or not other artefacts are being sold as curios or souvenirs as part of a profit-making enterprise because the lawyer that represents Allen Exploration seems to have suggested this is a profit-making enterprise and not a charity.”