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Off the coast of Key West Florida divers are seeking treasure aboard a shipwreck believed to be from the 1622 Atocha Fleet



Sam Kirby was the original founder of this project. Sam Kirby and Kenny Rose obtained an "in rem" admiralty judgment in 1986, giving them the rights to what they believed to be an early seventeenth century Spanish galleon. That judgment was binding on "the world," with the exception of Florida. When Florida attempted to exert its influence over the salvage operations, Kirby and Rose hired Ira. R. Mitzner, of Dickstin Shapiro in Washington, D.C., to challenge the actions of the state. In April 1998, Mitzner filed an action against Florida's Attorney General, and against the vessel, to obtain a declaration that Kirby and Rose owned the vessel against the world, including the state of Florida. Following a hearing before Judge Stanley Marcus, which included videotape of the underwater salvage operations, the Judge ruled in favor of Kirby and Rose. This litigation was crucial in opening the way for the salvage efforts to go forward and making this the last privately salvageable shipwreck in the United States.