'Holy Grail of shipwrecks' lined with $20 BILLION of sunken treasure from 300 years ago to finally resurface

The Spanish Galleon San Jose sunk in 1780

The Spanish Galleon San Jose sunk in 1780

Presidencia de la República - Colombia
Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop


Published: 06/11/2023

- 16:44

Updated: 06/11/2023

- 17:13

The ship is suspected to carry treasure worth as much as $20billion

A ship which sank over 300 years ago and is believed to have carried 200 tons of treasure, is to be raised from the bottom of the Caribbean Sea.

The Spanish Galleon San Jose, known as the “Holy Grail of shipwrecks”, is suspected to carry treasure worth as much as $20billion (£16billion).


The Colombian President, Gustavo Petro, has ordered the ship to be salvaged from the floor of the Caribbean Sea as soon as possible.

Culture minister Juan David Correa told Bloomberg: “The president has told us to pick up the pace.”

The San Jose

The San Jose sunk in 1780, with some 600 crew members aboard

Wikimedia Commons

Petro wants the three-masted ship to the surface before his term ends in 2026.

The raising of the San Jose comes amid an ongoing court battle over who owns the treasure.

The San Jose sunk in 1780, with some 600 crew members aboard.

It sunk to a depth of 2,000 feet during the War of the Spanish Succession, where Spain fought against Britain.

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Spain has made a claim, as well as Bolivia’s indigenous Qhara Qhara nation, who state that the Spanish extracted the treasure from them.

A salvage company has also claimed to have first discovered the wreck.

The location of the sunken ship remained a mystery until 1981, when it was claimed to have been discovered by US company Glocca Morra.

They later gave its coordinates to Colombia with the promise it would receive half the fortune when recovered.

Parts of the shipwreck

The shipwreck was first discovered in 1981

Presidencia de la República - Colombia

However, in 2015, Colombia’s then-President Juan Manuel Santos said the country's navy actually found the ship at a different location on the sea floor.

The co-ordinates have never been disclosed by Colombia, however Glocca Morra believe that the Columbians found some debris that had drifted from the original site.

The company - now known as Sea Search Armada - is suing the Colombian government for half the treasure or $10billion (£8billion).

Correa told Bloomberg that the government searched the coordinates where Sea Search Armada says it discovered the wreck but that there “is no shipwreck there”.

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