A Florida man has staked his claim to a sunken treasure off the coast of Asbury Park. He posted an ad in the classifieds of a local newspaper announcing to “modern day pirates” that the previously undiscovered 19th century steamship, the Ella Warley, was his for the taking.
It was a clear winter’s night in 1863. The Ella Warley was heading south along New Jersey’s coast. She was steaming for New Orleans with 30 passengers, and cargo worth about $175,000 when she collided with the S.S. North Star. Both ships were damaged, but the Warley never made it back to port. She sank in just 20 minutes, with all her booty still aboard: jewelry, a safe containing $5,000 and at least $8,000 in gold coins.
Allan Gardner, a Florida diver who is seeking to salvage the ship “has asked the courts to recognize him as the sole owner of anything he unearths at the wreck site, a little-known niche of maritime law that would permit the arrest of anyone else who tries to poach his watery bounty.”
“Anyone who feels they have a legal claim to the Ella Warley or its contents, be they a family member of a crewman or an insurance company that covered the ship, has until Thursday to notify the U.S. District Court in Newark. If not, it’s all Gardner’s.”