By Calvin Palmer
A sunken pirate ship off the coast of Borneo has brought a German treasure-hunter a haul of booty worth at least €7 million ($10-million)..
Martin Wenzels, 42, a property developer in Dresden, and business partner Klaus Keppler, 71, originally from Freiburg, located the wreck of The Forbes, which sank in 1806.
What at first sight looked to be encrusted and worthless turned out to be a valuable haul, comprising 1.5 tons of silver coins, gold decorations, cannons, crystal and Ming porcelain.
Wenzels flies out to Indonesia six times a year; Keppler is permanently based there.
Their company Nautic Recovery Asia has invested €3 million ($4.2 million) in the past two years searching for treasure around Borneo.
“We have examined 35 wrecks so far but only two had valuable loads,” said Wenzels.
“Holding the treasure in your hands gives and incredible adrenaline rush as one becomes a witness of past times,” he added.
His three salvage vessels and 50 crewmen will soon be heading to waters east of Timor.
“We have found references in archives to a wreck that has two tons of gold on board,” he said. “But we do not have the salvage license yet.
“Those are extremely expensive and political conditions locally are very difficult.”