Tampa family finds pirate treasure in grandpa’s attic

A Florida family may have discovered some unusual treasure belonging to legendary pirate Jose “Gasparilla” Gaspar. VPC

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When you go in the attic you expect to find something old.

What you don’t expect to find is treasure.

“Maybe my great-grandparents were pirates,” Mike Lopez said.

His sister found a box in their grandfather’s attic in Tampa, Fla., a few weeks ago while doing some spring cleaning. Inside was a tattered map of the Hillsborough River, century-old coins, a family picture and a hand wearing a ring.

“Maria came across it and once she told me she found a hand in a box. I was totally blown away,” said Lopez.

When Maria and Mike were children, their grandfather would tell them stories about his father, Ernesto Lopez, finding Jose Gaspar’s pirate treasure. They took the box to a few antique stores around Tampa and the contents were described as “gruesome and authentic.”

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The map is estimated to be from the 1930s and shows the Tampa area. Lafayette Street, which is now Kennedy Boulevard is also labeled on the map.

The coins are believed to be 18th century Spanish and Portuguese coins and the ring on the hand’s is expected to be from around the same time period.

“Either my great-grandfather made the best, most elaborate pirate hoax ever and never shared it with anyone or he really did find some treasure on the Hillsborough River. There’s really no way to know which is the case,” Maria wrote, in an email to WTSP-TV.

The family thinks the hand belongs to famous Tampa Bay pirate Jose Gaspar.

“We are not sure what we’re going to do with it,” said Lopez. “Possibly keep it forever. It’s part of our family now.”

Lopez wasn’t a fan of pirates when he was growing up. But, now?

“I’m considering it,” he said with a big smile. “I’m considering it.”

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