France filed a claim to the 17th-century shipwreck, the Griffon, in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids this week.
This isn’t the first Michigan has heard from France in the matter. In fact, “France has been working on this with the state department since 2005 [on this issue],” reports the Charlevoix Courier. Michigan claims, however, that France did not step forward and assert their ownership to the shipwreck despite publication of several notices. It is expected they will argue that France, by failing to assert ownership, abandoned the Griffon.
They might also argue (less successfully, in my estimation) that since the ship has been there 300 years, that France abandoned it simply for not having come out to find it.
There’s a third party involved in the litigation as well: Great Lakes Exploration, the folks who found the wreckage in 2001. They are also seeking custody of the wreck.
Historian and a member of the Chicago-Paris Sister City Committee Rich Gross said of the litigation, “This is an absolute quagmire of a lawsuit and we haven’t even identified this vessel.”
The Griffon disappeared on its maiden voyage in 1679, having embarked from an island near Wisconsin with a cargo of furs and other goods and a crew of six.
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