London - (Ass Mess): The BBC's Antiques Roadshow is embroiled in the controversy surrounding commission payments over a shiprwreck treasure find of an estimated 500,000 Colonial-era silver and gold coins worth up to $500 million.
According to London reports divers from the Odyssey Marine Exploration company first learned of the Spanish galleon's existence when a piece of marine memorabilia appeared on a 2005 Antiques Roadshow TV program showing a detailed treasure map etched on a chunk of blue whale penis bone.
The skrimshaw artefact belonged to a little old lady who bought the item for half a crown as a souvenir from a car boot sale in Grimsby thirty five years ago.
When she died some six months after the show was aired on UK TV her heir, a Mr Dave Spratt, accepted an offer of £500 from a local marine enthusiast to pay for his aunt's funeral expenses.
Now the treasure map which led to Odyssey Marine's startling discovery has been hailed as a legal challenge to the salvage company's financial claims on the wreckage treasure.
Lawyers acting for the Show, for Mr Spratt's family and for the UK Admiralty claiming ownership of the sunken Merchant Royal ship which went down in 1641 along with its booty are suing the diving rescue company in a series of lawsuits claiming the treasure has been pirated from their rightful ownership.
As the broadcaster of the original TV program that showed the detailed treasure map Antiques Roadsow could stand to make up to 10% of anything recovered from the sale of the ship's bullion.
The case is believed to set a legal precedent and may serve as a warning to other marine pillagers on the lookout for booty that by rights should have gone to a poor old aged pensioner from the grimest parts of Northern England.