There's a new deal tonight between a Tampa company and a British maritime foundation that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
It surrounds a ship full of gold that sank more than two centuries ago.
Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration found the shipwreck in 2008 . The HMS Victory was a legendary British warship that sank in the English Channel in 1744 with a rich cargo.
"It was reported 400,000 pounds sterling, which could equate to three to four tons of gold coins, whose historic value would be tremendous," said Mark Gordon, with Odyssey Marine.
By some estimates, the wreck could be worth a billion dollars. The new deal gives Odyssey 80 percent of the value of the coins. The British get the rest, along with the retrieval of many pieces of long lost history.
"Bring back significant cultural heritage, the countries can benefit from that, and certainly Odyssey and its shareholders will benefit from that model as well," Gordon said.
It's the kind of deal Odyssey says it would have liked to make with Spain over another rich treasure . But they've been locked in a winner-take-all legal battle, and Spain has won the last several rulings .
That treasure, code named "Black Swan," was flown to Tampa in hundreds of white buckets, carrying 17 tons of silver and gold found off the coast of Portugal in 2007.
It may have to be sent back to Spain. Odyssey isn't commenting on it until a final court mandate. But they say there are plenty more to look for.
"We have a database here at Odyssey of over 6500 targets. At least a hundred of them are what we would consider high value targets, meaning they'll be worth at least $50 million," Gordon said.
The new agreement with the British comes at the right time: as Odyssey navigates rough waters with Spain, they're able to announce smooth sailing with the British.
They expect to have ships in the English Channel within a matter of weeks to continue their work, and eventually raise the treasure of the HMS Victory.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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