The San José, a Spanish Galleon that sank in 1708, was found off of the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos said on social media. Colombia’s president said it was “one of the biggest findings and identification of underwater heritage in the history of humanity.”

Santos announced the discovery of the legendary galleon Friday night, tweeting: “Great news: we found the Galeón San José!”

The value of the San Jose’s treasure — believed to include gold, silver, emeralds, and other precious cargo — has been estimated at more than $10 billion, with a range of $4-$17 billion often invoked. Much of the bullion came from mines in what is now Peru, according to NPR.

In 1708 the galleon San Jose, along with San Joaquin and other ships of the Imperial fleet sailed from Portobelo to Cartagena de Indias. In the San José they were loaded 11 million gold coins. The fleet was attacked by British ships and San Jose galleon sank with their treasure in front of the Peninsula Baru (current sea of Colombia ). Treasure hunters have sought the historic wreck for decades.

“Since 2013 they have made every effort to be recognized that this heritage for the benefit of all Colombians and humanity.” per a Presidential press release.

“Scientific research has been done from mapping, meteorological and historical studies, unknown in Colombia, and the highest technology available worldwide, has achieved very significant achievements. Thus it has been possible to find several shipwrecks on the seabed.” Santos also says that it will take several years to recover items from the wreck.


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