Sunken treasure cheer turns sour


14 May 2006 (The Electric New Paper) – Legal battle between a German treasure-hunter and his German agent, both based in Singapore. Tilman Walterfang recovered a huge cache of Chinese Tang Dynasty artefacts dating 1,200 years in from “the waters between Malaysian and Borneo” (apparently off an Indonesian island). The artefacts have been sold to Singapore’s Sentosa Corp. The legal battle aside, the sale of sunken “treasure” is indicative of the extremely low legislative and academic support of archaeology in the region.

Sunken treasure turns sour

Mr Walterfang went in search of the treasure off the Indonesian island of Belitung between Borneo and Sumatra when he first heard of the ancient treasure from fishermen.

What he discovered on the seabed was tens of thousands of Chinese Tang dynasty artefacts dating back about 1,200 years.

It was enough for Mr Walterfang to quit his job in Germany .

In Indonesia, he and his partner, Mr Matthias Draeger, spent millions of dollars to salvage the treasure.

Seven years after their astounding discovery, they sold the treasure to Singapore’s Sentosa Leisure Group for what is understood to be about US$32 million ($50m) last year.

Related Books:

Shipwrecks and Sunken Treasure in Southeast Asia by T. Wells