Ready for another treasure story?
How about 80 metric tons of lost gold?
That’s 2,572,059 troy ounces.
Figured at $1,300 an ounce, the missing treasure’s value is $3,343,676,700.
This treasure doesn’t even involve pirates, Spanish treasure fleets, or Russian military payrolls.
But it does involve Russia.
It also involves water.
What might this be?
It supposedly is loot taken by French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte from Moscow when he retreated from that city in 1812.
Then he sank it to the bottom of a lake.
No trace of it has ever been found.
Did it ever exist? That’s a good question. Count me as a skeptic.
Russians would have been more than a little angry at the loss of so much gold.
Emperor Alexander I was no fool.
Wouldn’t he have tried to recover so much missing gold if it existed?
After all, when Spanish treasure ships sank, the king of Spain ordered recovery efforts where they could be done.
This was from sunken ocean vessels no less.
The Russian emperor would have had only to deal with a lake.
Absent such a Russian recovery effort, Alexander’s troops were in Allied-occupied Paris after Napoleon’s defeat.
He would have put in a claim for such a large loss, or hauled away equivalent treasure from Paris to Moscow.
But why let plausibility get in the way of a good story.
This story relies on the fact that Russia was immensely rich in terms of natural resources.
Napoleon was well known to have helped himself to great artworks and other things in his conquered territories.
Why not help himself in Moscow?
Certainly it wasn’t because the French emperor had suddenly developed moral scruples against looting.
But Napoleon could not take something that did not exist.
The Russians would not have left so much portable gold behind when they retreated from Moscow in the first place.
But rumors of gold in a lake make a great tall tale.
This story was even strong enough to convince Soviet officials to look for the gold, according to the newspaper story.
They found nothing.
But this latest twist says they were looking in the wrong place all these years.
Presto chango, with a new location we have a brand new treasure story to entertain us.
Entertainment is all it is ever likely to be.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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