Most of the $21 million in treasure from a ship that sank in 1857 was awarded Thursday to the salvagers who spent $30 million to find it. The judge said he wished it was worth more.
“What a pity it did not amount to a billion dollars so that a proper award could have been given,” U.S. District Judge Richard B. Kellam wrote in a decision giving 90% of the gold to the Columbus-America Discovery Group. The rest will go to the original insurers of the cargo.
The bullion value of the gold found aboard the SS Central America is about $21 million, Kellam said. The ship sank during a hurricane off the South Carolina coast.
Many of the passengers were California prospectors en route to New York with gold to head off a banking crisis.
In 1987, the Ohio-based Columbus-America Discovery Group, an investment syndicate, began an expedition that found the shipwreck and began salvage operations.