Emeralds discovered on the famous Spanish galleon, Nuestra Señora de Atocha, are being sold at the New York City-based auction house, Guernsey’s
More than 20 emeralds found on the famous Spanish galleon, Nuestra Señora de Atocha, are being auctioned.
They are part of the Marcial de Gomar Collection which will be sold by Guernsey’s on 25 April.
Nuestra Señora de Atocha was the most famous of a fleet of Spanish ships that sank during a hurricane in 1622 off the Florida Keys.
It was heavily laden with copper, silver, gold, tobacco, gems, jewels and indigo from Spanish ports at Cartagena and Porto Bello in New Granada (current Colombia and Panama, respectively) and Havana, bound for Spain.
US treasure hunter, Mel Fisher, made headlines around the world in the mid 1980s when he discovered the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha – known as Atocha.
He found an estimated $450 million of treasure.
Fisher had to fight his claim to the haul in the courts for years before finally being granted ownership rights by the US Supreme Court in 1992.
President of Guernsey’s, Arlan Ettinger, said the Atocha emeralds ended up in the Marcial de Gomar collection after Marcial received a selection of the stones as payment for his expert services.
“We are not known for great gems which is why we were so excited when the Marcial family contacted us,” explained Ettinger, who said Guernsey’s is known for their “personal touch”.
Ettinger said Marcial, who is the founder of Emerald’s International, has decided to sell his personal collection “because he feels it is more elegant to help his family while he is alive.”
The Atocha emeralds all come from the Muzo Mine in Columbia – the most famous source of emeralds in the world. Others lots include emeralds mined in the 20th century from the same mine.
Many of the emeralds being sold also don’t have a reserve price.
“In 41 years of running Guernsey’s almost every auction has had its fair share of surprises,” said Ettinger, who believes no reserve price for some of the lots makes it more exciting for the buyers
“Take a shot, you’ve got nothing to lose,” he advises to anyone interested in bidding.
The auction house’s conducts just six to seven auctions a year.
Guernsey has also previously sold what is believed to be the only piece of jewellery worn by Diana, Princess of Wales that was ever sold at auction.
The diamond and pearl necklace was worn by Princess Diana on her last official engagement.
Guernsey’s has also auctioned lots for the Museum of Yachting at Rhode Island, and sold the contents of the luxury liner, SS United States.
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Next month, it will be auctioning the guitar known to Grateful Dead music fans as Wolf.
The guitar was made for band member Jerry Garcia.
Gurnsey’s previously sold Wolf and Garcia’s other guitar – Tiger – 15 years ago for $1 million each, breaking the record for the most money paid at auction for a guitar.
Wolf was bought by American heir Daniel Pritzker, who has decided to now sell the guitar to raise money for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“The wild and crazy auction is happening on 31 May. It will be at an exciting venue with great music, and hopefully we will sell Wolf again, hopefully breaking the world record again,” explained Ettinger, who said 100% of the profits from the auction will go to the centre.
The auction of the Marcial de Gomar Collection will be conducted live at the Americas Society at 680 Park Avenue, New York with online bidding at www.liveauctioneers.com.