Colombia says it's discovered one of the most valuable sunken ships ever

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Colombia Says It Found One of the Most Valuable Sunken Ships Ever

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced Friday the discovery of a Spanish boat that sank with a massive cargo hold of treasure 300 years ago.

The San Jose has been called the "holy grail of shipwrecks." Its treasure is estimated to be worth somewhere between $4 billion and $17 billion.

SEE ALSO: Researchers discover Alaskan shipwreck from 1813

However, ownership of that valuable treasure has been hotly contested. Sea Search Armada, an American company, claims it was under contract with the Colombian government to search for the San Jose and was promised a portion of its treasure.

Legal battles over this kind of sunken treasure aren't uncommon. Odyssey Marine Exploration uncovered $600 million in sunken treasure in the Atlantic in 2007, but a court ruled it had to hand it all over to Spain.

The legal fight over the San Jose's treasure still isn't over, so it's not clear if Colombia will get to keep all the treasure or have to hand some of it over.

RELATED: See artifacts discovered on the Titanic shipwreck:

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Colombia says it's discovered one of the most valuable sunken ships ever
CHICAGO, UNITED STATES: Visitors look at a 13 ton section of the hull of the Titanic on display at the Titanic exhibit 18 February 2000 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The exhibit features more than 200 artifacts recovered from the ocean floor. AFP PHOTO/TANNEN MAURY (Photo credit should read TANNEN MAURY/AFP/Getty Images)
Visitors touch a section of the hull from the Titanic on display at the Titanic exhibit 18 February 2000 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The exhibit features more than 200 artifacts recovered from the ocean floor, including a 13 ton section of the hull. AFP PHOTO/TANNEN MAURY (Photo credit should read TANNEN MAURY/AFP/Getty Images)
Original china recovered from the wreck of the Titanic is on display in a water-filled tank at the Titanic exhibit 18 February 2000 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The exhibit features more than 200 artifacts recovered from the ocean floor, including a 13 ton section of the hull. AFP PHOTO/TANNEN MAURY (Photo credit should read TANNEN MAURY/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 22: A Small porthole is seen at 'The Titanic Artifact Exhibit' at the California Science Center on October 22, 2002 in Los Angeles, California. The show begins February 9th 2002. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)
Artifacts on display that were recovered from the Titanic (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 6: A binocular from the Titanic is on display at 'TITANIC The Artifact Exhibit' at the California Science Center on February 6, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The exhibition opens February 9, 2003. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 6: Artifacts from the Titanic are on display at 'TITANIC The Artifact Exhibit' at the California Science Center on February 6, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The exhibition opens February 9, 2003. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 6: A gold wristwatch from the Titanic is on display at 'TITANIC The Artifact Exhibit' at the California Science Center on February 6, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The exhibition opens February 9, 2003. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 6: An artifact from the Titanic is on display at 'TITANIC The Artifact Exhibit' at the California Science Center on February 6, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The exhibition opens February 9, 2003. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 6: A pair of rubber shoes from the Titanic is on display at 'TITANIC The Artifact Exhibit' at the California Science Center on February 6, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The exhibition opens February 9, 2003. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 6: An artifact from the Titanic is on display at 'TITANIC The Artifact Exhibit' at the California Science Center on February 6, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The exhibition opens February 9, 2003. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 6: A pipe with sculpted bowl from the Titanic are on display at 'TITANIC The Artifact Exhibit' at the California Science Center on February 6, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. The exhibition opens February 9, 2003. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 26: Name boards from a lifeboat on the R.M.S. Titanic are displayed May 26, 2006 at Christie?s in New York City. Part of the Ocean liners Furnishings and Art sale at the auction house, the two name boards, which survived the 1912 sinking of the ship, each have an estimated auction price above $40,000. The sale includes a total of ten lots of Titanic memorabilia and is scheduled for auction June 1. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 6: A pair of glasses is displayed in the Titanic: Aritifact Exhibition at the Metreon on June 6, 2006 in San Francisco, California. The exhibition opens on June 10, 2006 and will feature more than 300 authentic artifacts that have been recovered from Titanic's debris field. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 6: An artifact from the Titanic are displayed in the Titanic: Artifact Exhibition at the Metreon on June 6, 2006 in San Francisco, California. The exhibition opens on June 10, 2006 and will feature more than 300 authentic artifacts that have been recovered from Titanic's debris field. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)
Assorted artifacts from 'Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition' (Photo by Frank Mullen/WireImage)
Assorted artifacts from 'Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition' (Photo by Frank Mullen/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 05: Recovered Titanic artifact on display at the Titanic Auction preview at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on January 5, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 05: Artifacts recovered from the wreck site of the RMS Titanic on display at the Titanic Auction preview at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on January 5, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 05: Recovered Titanic artifact on display at the Titanic Auction preview at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on January 5, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
A cup from the RMS Titanic is on display during a news conference by Guernsey's Auction House January 5, 2012 aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. Guernsey's announced the historic auction of the complete collection of artifacts recovered from the wreck site of RMS Titanic. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
A pair of shoes recovered from the Titanic are seen at an exhibition at Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum in Singapore on April 2, 2012. The exhibition features about 275 artifacts recovered where 14 of which have never been seen before with realistic re-creation and personal stories of the maiden voyage which sank in 1912. RMS Titanic which tragically sank on April 15, 1912 will mark its 100th aniversary this year. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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