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Treasurer Hunters Court Case


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Someone who is searching needs to know who is laying claim to a particular 'loss' so they can make a deal.

It is my understanding in Florida that as a beach detectorist I can't legally keep anything that is deeper than low tide.  If I cross that line and find treasure then it legally is not mine.  It is like a mining claim.  That is the boundary.  Now you are saying that even if a treasure is located on a Florida claim then there are others who have a superior claim?

Let's jump to lost jewelry on the beach.  I guess anyone who can prove that they owned something could 'claim' it if they know you have found it.  It depends upon how the owner was parted from their valuable possession.  If it was by way of theft then the owner of record could put a claim on it and get it without paying for it.

I'm reminded of a few things I read recently.  One was a story about Hobby Lobby which purchased items that had been looted or stolen.

https://www.npr.org/2020/06/23/877581382/after-missteps-and-controversies-museum-of-the-bible-works-to-clean-up-its-act

Another story I remember reading was about a guitar once owned by Randy Bachman.  It was stolen.  So what happened?

https://www.npr.org/2021/10/22/1048289039/randy-bachman-fan-tracks-down-the-musicians-stolen-guitar-in-japan

I had a car that was stolen from me back in the 80s.  It was a Datsun B210.  If I was ever able to locate that car I am still listed as the registered owner.  I could claim it and not have to pay the present owner.  I haven't looked online for it in a few years!  haha

You may know other stories.

Anyway ... lost and stolen ... even a ring or jewelry on the beach can have strings.  Some try to give the lost items back through ring finders and others ... it is just a lot of hard work finding some things so you deserve to keep it.

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Definitely a lot of competing interests in these types of situations. But like you recognize mn90403, it's not easy to find lost items.

I get the "but I'm the rightful owner, so I deserve to get it back" interest. But if treasure hunters can't at least keep a % of what they find, they'll be motivated to either stop hunting or do it in secret so they don't need to report anything. In either situation, te rightful owner gets nothing. Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather have the option of paying a finders fee to get my lost item returned than have no option of ever getting it back.

Even with a law that allows finders to keep a certain % of what they find, some finders will still try to hide their finds so they keep 100% of it. However, they will be in violation of the law and have to constantly worry about what happens if they get caught. Sure, many unscrupulous people can live like that, but I think a lot of people would be motivated to follow the law if that means sleeping better at night. Kind of a tangent, but I think this is why organized crime isn't what is used to be. There are so many ways to "game the system" in a legal manner, why would a "wise guy" break the law to earn $1,000 when they can abide by the law and earn $950? I'm no expert in organized crime, but there's definitely a price to pay by breaking the law, even if you never get caught.

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I saw a NatGeo Channel TV show about this within the past couple weeks.  For those not familiar you can (always 😏) get good info on Wikipedia as to what the TV news left off.  This particular ship was found very close to Spain (taken from the linked Wikipedia page):

1024px-Aprx_site_of_Nuestra_Senora_de_las_Mercedes2009-06-18_svg.thumb.png.1fc0e98001d094dc3f79e5fa6ce0555c.png

and not from near the USA coast.  Also, according the show (if I can trust my memory) the gold wasn't looted from South Americans but rather apparently was a payment intended for Napolean for 'protection' so that he wouldn't invade Spain(!).  (Warning:  I don't see that mentioned in the Wikipedia article so maybe this speculation is questionable, at best.  The Wikipedia article says that Peru, in 1804 still a Spanish colony, disputed ownership but the courts rejected that.)

None of this, IMO, gives Spain 100% ownership after a treasure salvage project found it.  However, I do wonder (and didn't see it in the TV show) if the salvors knew they were breaking some law (specific to Spain or maybe international) when they found and then recovered it.

To really get an idea of how treasure search and salvage missions get complicated (and dangerous!), read the captivating 1998 book Ship Full of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder, which covers in detail the research, search, and recovery of the SS Central America off the North Carolina coast.  For example, taking time to contact a government to negotiate a deal which Mitchel wondered about might not have worked in that case.  (Hint:  they were competing with others who weren't bothered by 'principles' regarding tactics -- e.g. spying on the location of the salvage ship.)

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They say the fun is in the finding (unless it is worth $500,000,000 then greed comes in) The finders should be able to be compensated for time, effort and knowledge put in to finding the treasure plus a reward at least..

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The UK has a system that is mostly working for hunters with permission.  It does not work for someone who finds treasure where they have no permission to be in the first place.  A land owner shares with the finders ... fair.

Nugget hunters on the Queen's land in the dead of night are not legal finders.  If it is antiquities found the local museum curators give the illegals a chance to go clean but some have chosen to still lie and they are prosecuted. 

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10 hours ago, mn90403 said:

Someone who is searching needs to know who is laying claim to a particular 'loss' so they can make a deal.

It is my understanding in Florida that as a beach detectorist I can't legally keep anything that is deeper than low tide.  If I cross that line and find treasure then it legally is not mine.  It is like a mining claim.  That is the boundary.  Now you are saying that even if a treasure is located on a Florida claim then there are others who have a superior claim?

Let's jump to lost jewelry on the beach.  I guess anyone who can prove that they owned something could 'claim' it if they know you have found it.  It depends upon how the owner was parted from their valuable possession.  If it was by way of theft then the owner of record could put a claim on it and get it without paying for it.

I'm reminded of a few things I read recently.  One was a story about Hobby Lobby which purchased items that had been looted or stolen.

https://www.npr.org/2020/06/23/877581382/after-missteps-and-controversies-museum-of-the-bible-works-to-clean-up-its-act

Another story I remember reading was about a guitar once owned by Randy Bachman.  It was stolen.  So what happened?

https://www.npr.org/2021/10/22/1048289039/randy-bachman-fan-tracks-down-the-musicians-stolen-guitar-in-japan

I had a car that was stolen from me back in the 80s.  It was a Datsun B210.  If I was ever able to locate that car I am still listed as the registered owner.  I could claim it and not have to pay the present owner.  I haven't looked online for it in a few years!  haha

You may know other stories.

Anyway ... lost and stolen ... even a ring or jewelry on the beach can have strings.  Some try to give the lost items back through ring finders and others ... it is just a lot of hard work finding some things so you deserve to keep it.

To expand on this, I have a friend who was a lawyer as a public defendant.  He told me that objects I find (Jewelry, Reclics, whatever) has an owner and that “finders keepers” is not the law.  You could technically leave, bury whatever out in the woods, beach wherever, and if someone takes it they technically stole it from you.   Even if you lost it.  It technically makes sense.  But 🤷‍♂️

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I think that there is something legally about the idea of abandonment.  If you fail to pay your real estate taxes then you have 'abandoned' the property as far a the county is concerned.  They will find someone who will pay those taxes.

If you lose something and collect insurance on it and don't post notice of loss so that you can recover the item if found then the loser is really a loser.  The insurance company should file a lost property claim or something like that but if they don't then the finder is not able to trace the owner with a reasonable amount of diligence.

States list financial assets that have not been claimed and have not been touched in a number of years.  These funds are forfeited if not claimed.  There are finders who will receive a fee if they lead the rightful owners to the asset but often times an owner is 'tipped off' and they search the State's database on their own.  They screw the finder out of a deserved fee.

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On 10/23/2021 at 12:53 PM, mn90403 said:

Another story I remember reading was about a guitar once owned by Randy Bachman.  It was stolen.  So what happened?

https://www.npr.org/2021/10/22/1048289039/randy-bachman-fan-tracks-down-the-musicians-stolen-guitar-in-japan

I had a car that was stolen from me back in the 80s.  It was a Datsun B210.  If I was ever able to locate that car I am still listed as the registered owner.  I could claim it and not have to pay the present owner.  I haven't looked online for it in a few years!  haha

You may know other stories.

I have one, I bought a guitar from a dealer at a guitar show. About a year later I got a call from some irate guy who demanded I give it back to him, or he'd send the police. He was very nasty, also threatened to sue.

I calmly told him I still had the receipt, and he could go for it if he wanted to but the state I bought it and lived in has a law that says anything bought in good faith with a good faith transaction (how was I to know the dealer may have been disreputable?) must be purchased back from the person holding a receipt, stolen or not.

Stolen property is a whole 'nother ball game for sure.

In any case, no matter where you are, KNOW THE LAW. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

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Sometimes there are just too many lips capable of sinking the ship to be a pirate all of the time.   Some projects are just not worth the hassle unless you can get a valid charter at the get go.   That way you can operate under contract and any legal challenges are handled by the charter member.   You still make money and get the publicity you need to continue getting additional contracts.

HH
Mike

 

 

 

 

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