Bevans Branham served as a force with the corporate finance team assembled for the search and discovery of the legendary San Jose, the “holy grail” of treasure salvage ships. This venture capital process classically integrated leading-edge research, science, technology and finance with entrepreneurial excellence in this great breakthrough find for all time of extreme cultural, technological and economic significance – today’s value approaches $20B. The numismatic, or antique value of the gold coins and gem quality emeralds on the San Jose, is yet significantly higher.
Bevans Branham’s first VC project predated formal entry into the business with the launch of Oz Productions in the late 70’s, featuring the first hot, pre-programed background/environment feature music programming for restaurants, clubs, rock concerts and specialty retail. It was later sold to IBM. In concert, Bevans enjoyed on-going participation for many years in the music business as a promoter and producer, discovering and showcasing artists appearing at their restaurants and clubs – including Jamaican Reggae artist, John Bayley, with one of America’s first Jamaican music and food festivals, and classic lounge act, Denny Flannigan & the Moonrakers. They also served as advisor to Fallen Rock Recording Studios, who discovered and produced the Kamikaze Klones, opening for the Kinks and U2. Notably, they also introduced pianist and composer, Peter Kater at their legendary Rattlesnake Club in Denver, who subsequently enjoyed international acclaim as a pioneering jazz/new age platinum recording artist, and multiple Grammy Award nominee.
Bevans’ early success and numerous significant relationships led to extensive involvement in the marketing and sales of a series of highly sophisticated, successful tax shelter syndications. These diverse and rewarding strategic activities laid the foundation for Bevans to enter into the boutique venture capital business. In the early 80’s, Bevans Branham became active in the incubation, pre-development and launch of numerous highly successful business ventures including, Diversified Technology (medical devices), Duke Energy (oil & gas exploration), ADT (high definition TV & jumbo screens), later sold to Mitsubishi.
Bevans Branham found numerous opportunities to export the gifts and talents fine tuned through his previous business background into a series of illustrious consultancies. These activities over the years continue to this day and have included an amazing array of prestigious clients and associations, including forming Branham Investments, in 1990, a partnership with Max Witter of Dean Witter for clients such as the Real Restaurant Group, owner of Mustard’s Grill and Fog City Diner. Subsequently, Bevans served to expand national profile for Telluride Real Estate with T.D. Smith, and marketing of The Founder’s Reserve. Bevans also served in a strategic and creative advisory capacity to Mike Shannon, CEO of KSL Resorts, then based in La Quinta, CA – a premier boutique hotel developer and operator to corporate America.
Bevans and the Branham Companies have more recently, over the last decade, been privileged to serve as strategic marketing and investment advisors to a small group of high net worth individuals and successful companies, including as strategic advisor to legendary entrepreneur, Marvin Davis and Davis Petroleum, formerly America’s premier independent oil and gas exploration company, USI of Southern California – once the country’s leading insurer to the entertainment business and noted specialty insurance/financial products innovator and Landmark Golf Co. – internationally recognized developer of distinguished master-planned communities anchored by resort hotels and world class golf. Additionally, they were honored to participate as core team members with Pepperdine University, collaborating on the creation of their landmark Arts, Media and Culture Initiative – designed to interface with an important new vision for young leaders, connecting them spiritually and with one another to inspire and empower this group at a most pivotal time in human history.
Today, Lorie and Bevans Branham enjoy serving as strategic advisors to a small collection of highly innovative, entrepreneurial enterprises and successful companies. They participate in the strategic selection, acquisition and resale of distressed properties/special situations, focusing on real estate and resorts.
It was just sunset when I engaged the Admiral [San Jose], and in about an hour and a half, it being then quite dark, the Admiral blew up… She immediately sank with all her riches.Admiral Charles Wagner
The History of the San Jose
Bevans Branham’s work to help find the San Jose treasure ship is important because of its value, which is enormous and unprecedented, and also for the historical significance of the ship. The San Jose sank on June 8th, 1708 on its way back to Spain to fund the government of Spain, hastening the Spanish Succession. Early that morning, English Commodore, Charles Wager, spotted the ship and engaged it in battle. The San Jose sank quickly before it could be boarded 16 miles off of the coast of present-day Colombia. The San Jose contained an estimated 11 million pesos (the equivalent of 344 tons of gold and silver) and 116 steel chests of gem quality emeralds. It now lies 800 feet below the surface of the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea. Additionally, it is now believed, based on other discoveries, there is a missing shipment of 10 million gold coins aboard as well. Commodore Wager was actually later relieved of duty for having failed to successfully board the San Jose and secure its enormous treasure. There were literally mule trains criss-crossing Latin America for three years loading the treasures of the San Jose, which also included all the wealth of the Viceroy of Peru and the artifacts and associated treasure of many church officials.
Bevans Branham’s work in venture capital, which led to the discovery and, soon, the salvage of the San Jose treasure ship didn’t just end with them finding the ship. When Bevans and Sea Search Armada initiated the search, they structured the equivalent of an offshore oil lease with the Colombian government prioritizing the governments rights to all religious artifacts and a 50/50 split of the treasure. Once Sea Search Armada had successfully found and identified the ship, not surprisingly, the Colombian government sought to renegotiate the deal. Nonetheless, Sea Search Armada, feeling confident in their legal position, decided to move forward with the salvage in the mid 80’s, only to pause over new security concerns about getting the treasure up and safely to port with the rise of the new Medellin Drug Cartel. The treasure had been safe on the bottom of the ocean for 280 years, and SSA thought why not pause a couple of years for the cartel to disband and then re-initiate the salvage effort. However, the drug cartels became increasingly powerful, SSA and its affiliates ran out of capital and the partnerships were sold to wealthy Sun Valley investor, Jack Harbeston. Extremely well connected, Harbeston believed he could soon consummate a successful salvage of the boat. However, the cartels became more powerful and the Colombian government more uncooperative.
Subsequently, Harbeston has spent over 25 years struggling with Colombia, persevering through numerous changes in governmental leadership, finally obtaining a Colombian Supreme Court ruling, recently, confirming the validity of the original SSA agreement of a 50/50 split of the treasure. The six bodies of law in the World Court which govern the possession of the treasure validate this ruling. Significantly, the treasure is only in Colombia’s economic zone, not their territorial waters. Furthermore, the Colombian government, now an important strategic ally of America against Venezuela, looks to use the San Jose as a high profile, successful American investment to encourage other American business involvement in their country.
Movie & Entertainment Franchise
The story of The San Jose is clearly legend, as is Bevans’ involvement as a venture capitalist. However, the story of the San Jose, the effort of the team involved in finding it, and the legal battle with the Colombian government only deepen the rich history and legend of the treasure ship, coming together to tell a complex, beautiful and multi-layered story for the ages, the “holy grail” of treasure salvage ships. The San Jose is a timeless and timely story with many messages of both historical and contemporary relevance. Certainly, that’s what MGM and Michael Landon, both original investors, were seeing when they acquired the rights to the story years ago. Today, with the multiple bankruptcies of MGM and conflicts with the estate of Michael Landon, the rights became available again and are being secured by The Branham Companies (BCO), in association with Evans Entertainment Global, LTD (EEG). They are now moving forward with the screenplay and formation of a strategic production alliance with a distinguished group on the development of a multi-billion dollar motion picture & entertainment franchise. Many initially see it as “Romancing the Stone” meets “Indiana Jones” meets “The Social Network”.