Family Finds Gold in Florida Shipwreck Worth $300k; Spanish Treasure Fleet Sank In 1715

By Josh Lieberman on September 4, 2013 11:22 AM EDT

1715 shipwreck gold
The treasure-hunting Schmitt family of Sanford, Fla., found $300,000 of Spanish gold last weekend off the coast of Fort Pierce. (Photo: Facebook)

A Florida family of treasure-hunters uncovered an estimated $300,000 in gold over the weekend off the coast of Fort Pierce, Fla. The Schmitt, owners of Booty Salvage, were aboard their ship the AARRRR Booty when they came across three pounds of gold chains, five gold coins and a gold ring. The treasure was located only 15 feet underwater and 150 yards from the coast.

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The gold comes from the wreckage of 11 ships traveling from Havana, Cuba, to Spain in 1715. A hurricane struck, downing the boats and loosing $400 million of treasure onto the ocean floor. $175 million of the treasure has been recovered, according to Brent Brisben, whose company 1715 Fleet - Queens Jewels LLC owns the salvage rights to the wreckage and subcontracts the rights to companies like Booty Salvage.

"What's really neat about them is they are a family, they spend family time together out there and the most amazing part about them is they always believed this day would come," Brisben told Reuters. 

"To be the first person to touch an artifact in 300 years, is indescribable," said Brisben. "They were there 150 years before the Civil War. It's truly remarkable to be able to bring that back."

The Schmitt family has been hunting for treasure in the area for years. They found a $25,000 silver platter in 2002, but this is their biggest haul. The family has spent every day this summer searching the waters for treasure. Their dedication paid off this weekend after a diver working with the family, spotted the first piece of gold, sending Schmitt underwater to take a look. 

"I went down and the whole bottom was covered in gold," said Schmitt. "Eight gold chains and all of these gold coins, they were laying all over the bottom. It was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen."

As per Florida and federal law, the Schmitt family's newfound gold will be turned over to the state of Florida. The gold will be placed under the custody of the U.S. District Court, with Florida keeping 20 percent of the haul to display in a museum. The Schmitts will split the remaining 80 percent of the gold with Brisben's company. 

Brisbane most recently plundered the 1715 wreck in July, when his company turned up 48 gold coins valued between $200,000 and $250,000.

READ MORE:

Shipwreck Gold: Does Sunken South Carolina Steamer Contain Treasure?

Boy Finds Diamond In Arkansas Park: How Much Is Michael Dettlaff's 5-Carat Diamond Worth?

Lost City of Gold: Did Lasers Help Discover Ciudad Blanca?

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