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Divers recover $4.5M in gold coin off Florida beach

August 20th, 2015 at 3:55 PM

A team of treasure hunters scouring the waters off Florida last month recovered a $4.5 million bounty of gold coins – including several made for the king of Spain, Philip V, in the early 1700s, Florida Today reported.

The find – made July 30 and 31 off the coast of Vero Beach — was announced Wednesday by Bret Brisben, captain of the S/V Capitana. Brisben and his crew reportedly found 350 gold coins, nine of which are known as Royals and valued at $300,000 apiece.

The discovery, which comes from the 1715 Fleet shipwreck, was made on the 300th anniversary of the July 30, 1715 tragedy — when the entire fleet of 11 ships traveling from Havana to Spain was lost at sea after it ran afoul of a hurricane. More than 1,000 people died.

“People love treasure stories. It resonates with everybody — every demographic, young and old, rich and poor,” Brisben told the newspaper. “People freak out that we’re literally 10-15 feet off the beach in 2-3 feet of water.”

The recovered treasure will be shared by Brisben, co-captain Jonah Martinez, diver William Bartlett and Dan Beckingham. Brisben owns Queens Jewels, a historic shipwreck salvage operation that has exclusive rights to the 1715 Treasure Fleet.

The State of Florida can receive 20 percent of the recovered artifacts for purposes of displaying in its museum in Tallahassee, according to a press release.

Brisben’s find comes a month after one of his subcontractors, Eric Schmitt, found 52 gold coins worth more than $1 million. Schmitt found the gold while diving about 150 feet off the coast of Fort Pierce in Florida during his yearly treasure-hunting trip with his wife, his sister and his parents, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

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