A family of treasure hunters has found more than $1 million worth of sunken Spanish gold off the coast of Florida.
Eric Schmitt and his family spent two summers on a treasure hunt, but not until June did they make the astounding underwater discovery from the wreckage of a 1715 Spanish fleet that sank in the Atlantic Ocean. The family found 51 gold coins and 40 feet of ornate gold chains laid 15 feet under the ocean’s surface.
Among the artifacts was a rare coin known as the “Tricentennial Royal” made for the Spanish king Phillip V—only six pieces are known to exist. The coin is dated 1715 and possibly worth half a million dollars.
Brent Brisben is the co-founder of 1715 Fleet — Queens Jewels LLC, the company that owns the rights to the wreckage. The company works closely with treasure hunters under subcontract agreements.
The family actually struck gold in 2013 and 2014, but decided to make the finding public now to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the historic shipwreck of 11 Spain-bound galleons filled with treasure that were tragically wiped out by a hurricane.
Under federal and state law, Florida will take up 20 percent of the spectacular find, while the Schmitt family and Brisben will split the remainder.