The Atocha, Mitzie Purdue, and an Upcoming Auction of an Emerald Ring at Sotheby's.
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Briefly, the facts:  "The [Spanish galleon] Nuestra Senora de Atocha set sail from Havana for Spain on Sept. 4, 1622 [some 400 years ago] with a payload that included 180,000 coins, 24 tons of ingots struck from Bolivian silver, 125 gold bullion bars and 70 pounds of rough-cut emeralds mined in present-day Colombia.  It had been sailing for only one day when it and another vessel.... were struck by a hurricane and sank west of Key West."

Mel Fisher began a search for the Atocha in 1969 and located the wreck in 1985. (He died in 1998.)  He and chicken magnate, Frank Purdue, became good friends and $400 million worth of the treasure was ultimately recovered. Mr. Purdue was given a share of the treasure proportional to his investment which included gold, silver, gold nuggets, jewelry and emeralds.  He kept only a gold doubloon and an emerald donating the rest of his bounty to the Smithsonian Institution and Delaware Technical Community College where it is on exhibit billed as "Treasures of the Sea."

He met his third wife, Mitzie, and married her in 1988 presenting her with a ring set with one of the finer emeralds recovered from the sunken ship.

Earlier this year, Mitzie, now 81, traveled to Ukraine and, prompted by her visit there after the Russian invasion, presented the ring to Sotheby's to be auctioned off this Wednesday, Dec. 7th with the entire proceeds to be donated to support humanitarian efforts in the war-torn country.  The ring is expected to fetch anywhere from $50K to $70K. 

[Source:  "Owner Parts With Rare Emerald From 1622 Shipwreck to Help Ukraine," by April Rubin. New York Times (on-line edition) Dec. 3, 2022.]

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The emerald Purdue acquired was uncut. This was cut into two gemstones. No mention of what happened to the other one. (Frank Purdue used to do his own TV commercials. He kind'a resembled a scrawny rooster. I knew the Purdue family when I worked on Maryland's Eastern Shore long ago.

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