Associated Press reports that two military planes laden with 17 tons of silver and gold coins recovered from a sunken Spanish galleon have touched down in Madrid.
The coins, 594,000 in total and worth about 400 million euros, were recovered from a shipwreck off Portugal's Atlantic Coast by an American salvage company, Odyssey Marine Exploration. The find made headlines back in 2007 as one of the largest hauls of gold and silver ever recovered from the sea.
According to AP, the ship is believed to be the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, sunk by British warships in an 1804 gunbattle while part of a fleet travelling back to Spain from South America. About 200 people were believed to be aboard.
Florida-based Odyssey brought the treasure back to the States, but its ownership was challenged by Spain. A federal district court ruled that U.S. courts didn't have jurisdiction, and in 2009 ordered the coins returned.
Peru, the country from where the galleon originally set sail, has also laid claim to the treasure, saying in a statement it "would maintain its claim despite losing an appeal Friday and the rejection by U.S. courts of previous claims by descendants of the Peruvian merchants who had owned the shipment," AP reported.
For now, the coins have been offloaded from the planes and taken to an undisclosed location.
Last September, The Scotsman reported a British cargo ship carrying silver worth £135 million was located deep in the North Atlantic 70 years after it was sunk by a Nazi torpedo.
The treasure, about 200 tonnes of silver stashed in the ship's hold, was also recovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration, but in this case, under a salvage agreement with the British government, Odyssey was able to keep 80% of the cargo.