Captain Kidd’s Treasure Found? Who Owns Found Treasure?

Captain Kidd’s treasure is reported to have been found off the coast of Madagascar. Kidd’s adventures inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write his novel, Treasure Island. Can you keep treasure you find in the ocean?DSC04197-B

The general rule is finders, keepers. However, the answer depends on several factors, including where the treasure is found and whether anyone else has a lawful claim to it.

For example, treasure found in United States federal territorial waters may be treated differently than treasure found in international waters. Similarly, if you find a modern Maersk ship under water, its “treasure” may be treated differently than if you find antiquated treasure in a 1620’s Spanish galleon whose owner is dead or unknown and unlikely to pop out of the woodwork.

Finding treasure isn’t all roses. Uncle Sam expects U.S. citizens to pay income tax on any such discovery. But that’s a price I’d be willing to pay.
In our In the News series, we use an article or topic that has been featured recently in the news as a potential learning opportunity.

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