10 Most Valuable Shipwreck Treasures Ever Found

Titanic is the most famous shipwreck in the history of mankind, but nevertheless there are thousands of shipwrecks that have occurred in our vast ocean. Every shipwreck treasure has a vast history behind it, so are the ships. Many of the most valuable shipwrecks treasures are yet to be found and recovered. Treasure hunting has become something interesting and has gotten many people fortunate and rich. Treasure hunters are an example of how to become rich from the oceans. There are many companies in the world that are hunting for lost treasures in the sea bed. Some of the most famous and amazing treasure hunters are Mel Fisher, Robert F. Marx, Philip Masters, E. Lee Spence, and Brent Brisben. Not only have the professionals found the treasures, but also amateur treasure hunters and even the common man. So, which is the most valuable shipwreck treasures ever found in the history of the world? Today, we are going to list down the 10 most valuable shipwreck treasures recovered that fetched millions of dollars to the treasure seekers.

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10. Belitung Shipwreck – $90 million

Belitung Shipwreck

Belitung Shipwreck is also known as Tang shipwreck or Batu Hitam shipwreck that occurred around 830 AD. The wreck is of an Arabian dhow that sailed from Africa to China. The ship successfully completed the journey from Africa to China but sank during the return journey near Belitung Island, Indonesia. The mystery of why the ship was so far from the expected route back from China is still unclear.

In 1998, the wreck was discovered by fishermen in the Gelasa Strait in 51 feet (16 m) of water. The wreck location was purchased from the fishermen and a local Indonesian company was licensed to carry out excavation of the site. The wreck known as the “Tang treasure” held three main types of wares in the form of bowls: Yue ware from Zhejiang Province, 60,000 items of “Dusun” storage jars known as Changsha ware and White-ware, manufactured in the Ding kilns – earliest known blue and white dishes. Surprisingly, the ship of carrying cargo from variety of influences and markets are persistent. The cargo had the largest Tang dynasty gold cup ever found, gold bowls, green-splashed bowls from Iran, motifs from Central Asia and Persia, gilt-silver boxes, gold dishes, and many valuable and expensive artifacts from various dynasties. The treasure is currently valued to be around $90 million.

9. Ship of Gold – $100-150 million

Ship of Gold

SS Central America was known as the Ship of Gold that sank with more than 420 people in 1857 due to a hurricane. The ship was carrying a whopping 14,000 kg of gold and this event contributed to the panic of 1857. The ship was heavy loaded with tons of gold that was caught in a Category 2 hurricane while off the coast of the Carolinas.

It took nearly 100 years to recover the sunken treasure of Ship of Gold. In 1988, the shipwreck was discovered using Bayesian search theory and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) by the Columbus-America Discovery Group of Ohio. Huge amounts of gold were recovered from the shipwreck that was valued to be around $100-150 million. A gold ingot weight 36 kg was sold for a record $36 million. After a legal battle, 92% of the gold was awarded to the discovery team in 1996.

8.  The Antikythera Treasures –  $120–160 million

The Antikythera Treasures

The Antikythera shipwreck happened more than 2000 years ago in the second quarter of 1st century BC. The ship sank near the Greek island of Antikythera on the edge of the Aegean Sea, northwest of Crete. The shipwreck was first discovered more than 100 years ago by sponge divers in 1900. From 2012 till 2014, the shipwreck yielded more treasures. Interestingly the shipwreck yielded the world’s first computer that was used to track the movement of sun, planets and the moon. Some of the treasures recovered were bronze chair, gold jewelry, jars carved with symbols from 1st century BC, high quality glass artifacts, statues made of marble and bronze, giant warriors statues, gold coins and much more. The treasure is valued to be around $120-160 million.

7. Treasure of the S.S. Republic –  $120 – 180 million

SS Republic Shipwreck

SS Republic, a steamship was lost in a hurricane in 1865 off the coast of Georgia en route to New Orleans. The ship was originally named the Tennessee. In 2003, deep-water shipwreck explorers discovered the hidden treasures of the S.S Republic off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. The ship carried enormous amounts of gold and silver coins, artifacts and other valuable items. One-third of the silver and gold coins were recovered by the shipwreck explorers that were worth $75 million. The total value of the treasure is estimated to be $120-180 million. The treasure recovered contains more than 51,000 gold and silver coins, artifacts, bottles, redware tea sets, statues, cups and saucers, jars and barrels. The search and recovery were depicted in a National Geographic Society TV documentary Civil War Gold.

6. Titanic Trasures – $190-200 million

Titanic Trasures

Titanic shipwreck is the most famous shipwreck of all time. The RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner which was carrying more than 1,500 passengers and crew-members on-board when it sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg. The ship was carrying expensive artifacts, gold, diamonds, silver, and other valuable items worth more than $300 million from high-profile and wealthy people.

Ever since the discovery of the ship in 1985 many artifacts, gold and silver coins, porcelain dishes, jars and other valuables have been put on display at various locations across the world. Many artifacts from the Titanic shipwreck were auctioned on September 2015 and few other items valued to be $189 million were auctioned in 2012.

5.  The Diamond Shipwreck – Still being valued

The Diamond Shipwreck

The Diamond Shipwreck recovery is one of the biggest shipwreck treasure finds in history. The ship is from the 16th century Portuguese trading vessels that were ascertained after few investigations that the ship was named Bom Jesus. The ship was sailing from Lisbon in 1533 when the shipwreck occurred. It is believed that the ship wrecked due to a heavy storm near the coast of West Africa. The ship was carrying huge amounts of valuable metals, ingots of copper and weapons from the era.

Geologist working for De Beers unearthed one of the biggest treasures from sea worth millions of dollars. They uncovered tons of ingots, enormous amounts of gold coins, more than 50 elephant tusks, silver, copper, swords and other weapons from King João III period. The total value of the treasure is still unknown and is being valued.

4.  The British Treasury Ship or The SS Gairsoppa – $210 million

The SS Gairsoppa Treasure

The British Treasury Ship or the SS Gairsoppa was a British steam merchant ship built-in 1919 and operated during the Second World War. In 1941 the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat which left the ship sinking with 85 passengers. The ship had exhausted its entire fuel and was on its way to Galway, Ireland when the ship wrecked. The ship was carrying 200 tons of silver when the ship sank.

In 2011, the ship’s wreck was found by Odyssey Marine after searching for nearly two months. The wreckage was found near the coast of Ireland. The Odyssey Marine recovered 1,218 silver ingots weighing more than 40 tons which was valued to be over $210 million.

3. Whydah Gally – $400 million

Whydah Gally

Whydah Gally is a fully rigged galley ship built originally for passengers, cargo and as a slave ship. The ship was captured by pirates during its return voyage of the triangle trade. It was captured by the pirate Captain Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy and referred the capture as a flagship. The famous pirate is known to have captured many more ships on their way and finally wrecked due to heavy storms. The ship went missing for nearly 260 years until 1984 when the shipwreck was discovered by Barry Clifford. The Whydah find is the only authenticated and verified Golden Age pirate shipwreck ever discovered on earth. The shipwreck yielded treasures worth more than $400 million. The treasure trove contained more than 200,000 artifacts, silver and gold coins, canons and the ship’s bell was also retrieved. Under the sponsorship of National Geographic Society, the artifacts recovered from the shipwreck goes on a tour all over the United States in the form of exhibitions.

2. Atocha Motherlode – $450 million

Atocha Motherlode Treasure

The estimated cache recovered from the Spanish ship Nuestra Señora de Atocha is known as the Atocha Motherlode. The Spanish ship carrying tons of ingots, copper, jewels, silver, gold and other precious metals sank in 1622 off the Florida Keys. It killed all the passengers on board except three sailors and two slaves. When the news of the ship reached Havana, Spanish authorities sent five ships to salvage the shipwreck but unfortunately more hurricanes and 55 feet deep-sea made the salvage a failure. The Spanish authorities undertook the salvage operations for years. They scattered treasures of one of the ship –Santa Margarita were half recovered using Indian slaves. The lethal operation involved diving to the bottom of the sea and recovering an item with a large brass diving bell. The Atocha was never recovered.

In 1985, Mel Fisher (a famous treasure-hunter) found the Atocha and the motherlode of gold, silver, cooper and emeralds were finally discovered after spending more than 16 years. The estimated worth of the treasure recovered is $450 million, which is only half the treasure that went down with Atocha. Mel Fisher’s company Salvors Inc. found many other shipwreck treasures in the area including treasures of Santa Margarita. The stern castle, the wealthiest part of Atocha is yet to be found. Still missing are 300 silver bars and 8 bronze cannons, among other things.

1 Black Swan Project – $500 million

Black Swan Project

The Black Swan Project is the code name given by Odyssey Marine Exploration for a salvage operation. The operation led to the discovery of more than $500 million worth of bullion, which was initially rumored to be from the shipwreck of Merchant Royal. The shipwreck and the identity of the ship were not disclosed by Odyssey Marine Exploration team because the treasure site was from an area where many colonial-era wrecks have occurred. Since the treasure contained coins and artifacts from various periods and ships, the identity of the ships have not been disclosed. The treasure yielded more than 600,000 silver coins weighing more than 17 tons, hundreds of gold coins, artifacts from various periods, and other valuable jewels. The knowledge of this treasure recovery came to light only on May 18, 2007 when the company flew tons of silver from Gibraltar to an unknown location in Florida. The company did not release any details regarding the coins that were recovered. The Spanish Government claimed that the treasure came from a Spanish vessel – the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedeswhich was sunk in British Navy ships in 1804. The Odyssey filed a petition in U.S. court for an arrest of the cargo on April 4, 2007 to establish a legal claim. Spain claimed ownership of the entire treasure and would not pay any salvage award to the treasure hunt team. Today, it is expected that the coins would be distributed to museums.


Vinod Suthersan is an young tech enthusiast, Blogger addict, Internet craze and thriving to learn new things on the world of Internet.