On this day September 23, 1641
The Merchant Royal, carrying a treasure worth over a billion USD, is lost at sea off Land’s End , Cornwall in rough weather.
On board were at least 100,000 pounds of gold (nearly one billion USD in today’s money), 400 bars of Mexican silver (another 1 million) and nearly 500,000 pieces of eight and other coins, making it one of the most valuable wrecks of all times.
The Merchant Royal spent three years trading with Spanish colonies in the West Indies from 1637 to 1640. England was at peace with Spain at this time. The Merchant Royal and her sister-ship, the Dover Merchant, called into Cadiz on their way home to London. By all accounts she was leaking badly after her long voyage.
The Odyssey Marine Exploration company has tried for several years to locate the wreck but has been unsuccessful thus far.
In 2007 the team announced the Black Swan Project, the name given by Odyssey Marine Exploration for its discovery and recovery of an estimated 500 million USD (363 million GBP) worth of silver and gold coins, from a shipwreck, was originally rumored in the press to be from the Merchant Royal.
The Odyssey team is still uncertain as to the identity of the wreck, but now believe it may be the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a Spanish vessel sunk in 1804. The team continued to search for the ship on the 2009 Discovery Channel television show, Treasure Quest, but were unsuccessful once again.