PORTLAND, Maine — In the end, the only artifacts of a misguided effort to recover billions in platinum ingots, gold and jewels from a shipwreck in the Gulf of Maine may end up as paperweights.

To move the salvage rights case of the S.S. Port Nicholson, a sunken British cargo ship, to a close, attorneys for the British government want the U.S. Marshals Service to hand over items Gorham treasure hunter Greg Brooks recovered from the ship.

“There are one or two things that might make good souvenirs in the case,” said Timothy Shusta, an attorney in Florida representing the United Kingdom’s Department for Transport.

That includes a compass and a brick from the ship’s boiler room, Shusta said, but no bars of platinum.

Shusta said he expects the motion filed Monday will help bring the case to a close, turning over all of the items that are not subject to the federal investigation of Sea Hunters’ business practices.

Federal investigators in February searched Brooks’ Gorham home and took into evidence 73 separate exhibits, including hard drives, five computers, cellphones and other digital media, according to discovery documents for that search.

Brooks admitted in the case that the documents that prompted the treasure hunt were falsified by a Massachusetts contractor.

The U.S. attorney for Maine has not filed formal charges against Brooks. Donald Clark, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Maine, declined Tuesday to comment on the investigation.

Securities regulators in Maine have also inquired about the way Brooks raised money from investors. The Cape Cod Times reported Brooks had raised as much as $10 million from investors.

Sea Hunters in April lost its salvage rights for the ship sunk by a German submarine during World War II, about 50 miles northeast of Provincetown, Massachusetts. The court dismissed a request for those salvage rights from investors in the treasure hunt, who had formed the company Mission Recovery.

The order from U.S. District Court Judge George Singal said the group could pursue salvage rights but would first have to get a maritime lien on the ship.

Shusta said the British government intends for the ship and its contents to remain at the bottom of the sea.

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.