Treasure auction offers break from finders keepers

Spanish galleon treasures

The worth of gold and silver can fluctuate—sometimes less so when the precious metals are pulled from a famous shipwreck.

Such is the case for many items presented by the president of Guernsey's auction house, Arlan Ettinger, in an interview Thursday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

The treasures, dating back to a 1622 Spanish galleon shipwreck off the coast of Key West, Florida, don't just appeal to collectors, but also "dreamers who don't ignore the investment potential," Ettinger said.

Read More $1M in 300-year-old gold coins found off Florida coast

Gold chalice
Source: Guernsey's

For this particular collection, winning bidders need not worry about anyone else claiming ownership, but when it comes to treasures, not all finders stay keepers.

"Each case in based on its own merits," he said. "There haven't been too many successful claims, people who find [treasures] generally can keep it but are always obligated to give a portion back to the state."

The Guernsey's auction will take place in New York on Wednesday, but bidders from around the world could partake online, Ettinger said.

Related Tags