Mr Morenes described the event as "a showcase of the ties that bind the United States and Spain together". Homeland Security Investigations, a division of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), conducted the investigation with the Department of Justice (DOJ), according to a statement from ICE.

The letter was a manual copy of the original, known as the Catalonia Plannck II Columbus and written in Spanish to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It describes the people, landscape and wealth Columbus found when he arrived in the Americas.

The US  returned a 500-year-old stolen Christopher Columbus letter to Spain after a seven-year hunt. Written in 1493, the letter describes the explorer's discoveries in the New World and was addressed to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.

However, authorities received a tip in 2011 that several copies had been stolen and replaced with forgeries. Spain's US ambassador Pedro Morenes received the letter in a repatriation ceremony in Washington.