Treasure hunters! A trade? A passion? Both at once? We seek wealth or fame? Canadian director Robert Grenier, President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) describes them as "modern pirates". He may be right. Objects worthy fled underground or on the seabed, near the coast where ships like the Titanic''s failed a few hundred years. The gold mines of King Solomon in Saudi Arabia, the Treasures of the Templars in France and the treasures of the Incas Lake Titicaca in Peru or the Temple of Siwa in Egypt are explorers dream.
Some companies specialize in search of shipwrecks. This is true of American society Odyssey Marine Exploration or Belgian Cosmix. The first has discovered in the Atlantic in 2007, 500,000 gold coins at 740 euros a piece! Do the math, millions of dollars. Enough to arouse the appetites: gold, porcelain, ceramics ... the diversity of terrestrial and marine treasures is real.
In Ecuador, huaqeros, grave robbers illegally, made the fortune of Jorge Eljuri. This wealthy businessman buys their finds and collects them in one of his villas. He says he save the heritage of his country.
Prospectors often do not find what they want but it is even more difficult for them to sell the fruits of their labors because of the restrictive legislation in many countries like in Europe. In December 2003, Ecuador has prevented the public sale of pre-Columbian art at Christie''s Paris.
The French expert Jacques Blazy judges this market healthy despite the intensity of parallel circuits of traffickers who could be the purveyors of several museums in the world.