Kevin A. Moore
Oil on board
8 x 14 inches
Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., New York City
Jose Gaspar was a Spanish naval officer who rebelled and turned pirate in 1783 when he was accused of stealing the Spanish crown jewels. As soon as he heard the news of his imminent arrest he commandeered a ship called the Floridablanca, began to plunder merchant ships from all countries, and nicknamed himself Gasparilla. Over the next 38 years of his piracy it was said that he raided over 400 ships. He was known to be fearless and ferocious, and he routinely killed all passengers and crew. After an extraordinarily long pirate career, Gasparilla now 65 was nearing retirement and decided to attack one last ship. Unfortunately the ship happened to be a U.S. Navy warship, and a fierce battle ensued. Tons of American cannon balls pierced the Floridablanca’s hull and as the USS Enterprise moved in to finish the job, Gasparilla climbed to the bow, wrapped a chain around himself, and then jumped overboard into the dark waters and disappeared. While the ship was going down, ten of Gasparilla’s most trusted men left with twenty treasure chests and buried them in Florida’s swamps. $30 million dollars in gold and jewels still remains in the Peace River area.