LITTLE BIG PORTRAIT of ERICK SURCOUF
@ Erick Surcouf
127 gold bars discovered in 1985 in Indonesia in the shipwreck of the "Geldermalsen" sunk in 1752.
1 200 pieces of china discovered in the Philippines in 1992, in the shipwreck of the "San Diego" sunk in 1600.
A MODERN TREASURE HUNTER!
He has a corsair name, Surcouf, and a job that makes people dream, treasure hunter. In Principality for an event at the Monaco Press Club on the 14th March, Erick Surcouf told us about his unconventional job and about his project of reviving an ancient adventurer club from the 17th century.
Meeting a treasure hunter, throw you right back to childhood. Just his name is an invitation to dream and travel. Erick Surcouf is a descendant of Robert Surcouf, a famous corsair under Napoleon. But he looks more like a gentlemen than like a pirate. He actually insists on that fact that his not a pirate. « the goal of the corsairs is to capture enemy ships on behalf of a state, and to bring them back in order to sell them. On the contrary, pirates sunk ships and worked for themselves. »
His little’s boys dreams were full of galleons, treasure chests, marine adventures…« During all my childhood I was surrounded by ship models and I was told stories of boarding actions. And I have always been fascinated by treasures. » After having founded a photography and illustration agency, Erick Surcouf decided to go back to his roots and decided to search for shipwrecks, full of treasures. « I liked History and scuba diving- I wanted to combine my passion for the underwater world with my corsair heritage. He sold his company and funded by Cartier as a sponsor, he started his first expedition in Haiti on 1980. And discovered the wreck of the Oxford ship, sunk in 1669. 40 years later, Erick Surcouf has taken 7 shipwrecks out of the water, and has discovered 10, from post medieval times, form the 16th to the 18th century.
«There are 40.000 shipwrecks containing treasures in the world. Only 10% to 15% have been discovered. There is a huge potential! » His operating method is always the same. He works with a team of archivists who study all the reports in particular those from the fleet admirals, archived in different countries like Portugal, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The archivists select the shipwrecks according to their treasure but also their location. The access must be easy enough, the depth of the wreck can’t be over 50 meters, for obvious logistic reasons.
The shipwrecks being located in territorial’s waters, Erick also needs to get an agreement with the concerned state also in charge of the army, to benefit from protection against modern-day pirates. Erik Surcouf never works in France, because the legislation does not allow sharing the foundings. « Because of that, France is one of the countries where there is the most pillage. »
Once on site, his team localize the shipwreck, thanks to magnetometers and sonars. « The underwater archaeology technology is evolving very fast and allow identifying shipwrecks more and more easily. » According to Erik Surkouf, 95% of his expeditions are successful. The treasure hunter, rarely go home empty handed.
What about the booty?
His biggest treasure? Erick Surcouf does not like to talk too much about money. « Every treasure I have found has the same value for me, each adventuure was different and unique. » The booty can be very different: Ming china, gold or silvers coins.. Most of the time we give 50% of what we have found to the concerned state. « Then, with my share, I pay my financial partners and my team. We also sell our foundlings to museums or private collectors. And one part of the benefits also goes to charities. . » What about competition?
«There are about 10 serious treasure hunters in the world. There are enough shipwrecks for everyone! ». His next expedition will take place in Australia, looking for gold deposits. « For about 4 years, I have not been looking for shipwrecks any more but I have been focusing on overland treasures, in Latin America or Europe. These expeditions are easier and cheaper to organize.
The Gentlemens Adventure club
Erick Surcouf would like to revive The Gentlemens Adventure club created by William Phibs , captain and corsair of the King of England in the 17th century. « This club will gather members helping with financing the expeditions. I want to make them dream by giving them the possibility to be part of the adventure. » And despite the name of the club, women are of course welcome! Erick Surcouf also wants to share with the younger generations, the life of his ancestor, Robert Surcouf, and has a project of a movie about his life.
To know more about Erick Surcouf
« La mer en héritage ». Editions Arthaud.
« Surcouf, l’invincible », Editions du Rocher.
« Surcouf, le tigre des mers. » Editions Glénat (BD.)
Erick Surcouf at the Monaco Press Club on 14 March 2017 with Joëlle Deviras from Monaco-Matin
▼ THIS IS YOUR POP WINDOW ▼