20 Most Legendary Lost Treasures Still Waiting to Be Found

Map of lost treasure

Tales of buried treasures were ones we enjoyed when we were kids. After all, who doesn’t want to head off on amazing adventure to dig up untold wealth?

The Goonies was one of my favorite movies to watch when I was a kid. Sure, it was funny, but it was about more than that. It touched on that same childhood dream – hunting for buried treasure with your best friends along for the adventure.

Hunting for undiscovered treasure had the potential for the adventure of a lifetime for kids everywhere.

But you got older, and were told to put such foolish dreams to one side. After all, surely all the best treasures have been found by now. Satellite technology, ground penetrating radar and other technological marvels would have been used to dig up all that lost loot.

You’re wrong though. There’s still lost treasures waiting to be found, and we’re not talking about cheap trinkets, or “historical items”.

No, we’re talking about vast hordes of treasure worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Mountains of gold buried in lakes, in caves, in hidden valleys, and under the sea.

These are the types of treasures that dreams are made of, and here are the top 20 lost treasures that are still waiting for an adventurer just like you to discover.

List of Lost Treasures

Table Of Contents

Treasure of the Knights Templar

List of Treasures - Treasure of the Knight's Templar
  • Lost: 1307
  • Estimated Value: Unknown but potentially billions of dollars
  • Contents: Gold coins, silver coins, jewelry, religious artifacts, The Holy Grail.
  • Location: Scotland / Unknown

The Knights Templar suffered the fate of heroes who were eventually painted as villains, and all because Phillip VI the King of France wanted access to the riches they had taken back with them from The Holy Land during The Crusades.

They were more than just trained fighters, they were warrior monks with a heritage that dated back to an ancient order of monks known as the Essenes.  The Templars had one simple rule when it came to battle: They would only fight when they were outnumbered 3-to-1.

During the Crusades, the Templars found and excavated the fabled Temple of Solomon, rumored to be filled with riches the likes of which were unknown to the Western world. In addition to gold and silver, the Temple of Solomon might also have been the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, or even The Holy Grail.

Some think that the “treasure” the Templars was also made up of arcane, ancient knowledge that had lain hidden for centuries.

In any case, the Templars later fell out of favor with Phillip VI, due in no small part to the amount of money he owed them. Secret orders were issued for every Templar to be executed, and many of them were murdered in their beds.

Philip VI expected to then simply take the Templar’s treasure for himself, but found that almost nothing remained of their vast wealth. Unknown to him somebody had alerted the Templars to his treachery, and the knights escaped from the port of La Rochelle with all their treasure onboard.

Where did they go?

Nobody knows, but France had a longstanding relationship with Scotland, so a lot of research points to some Templars finally settling in Scotland. Roslyn Chapel, located just outside Edinburgh, Scotland, is proof that the Templars traveled this far.

There’s also evidence that at least some of the Templar’s traveled to southern Ireland, including the ancient Viking city of Waterford. Others are rumored to have journeyed as far as Canada to escape their assassins.

So, where is the Templar’s treasure today?

Some people say it’s buried on Oak Island, Nova Scotia, while others think some of their vast wealth is buried in secret vaults throughout Scotland.

Only a true treasure hunter will ever know for sure.

The Lost Tomb of Genghis Khan

List of Treasures - The Lost Tomb of Genghis Khan
  • Lost: 1227
  • Estimated Value: Approximately US$3 billion
  • Contents: Gold, silver, gems, jewelry and other precious items
  • Location: Mongolia

If you ask most people what they know about Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khaan) they might be familiar with the fact that he pillaged and fought his way across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Millions died as one city after another fell to the Mongol Horde.

For all the accounts of his military genius and utter savagery, very few historians discuss the wealth he must have undoubtedly accumulated in his many conquests. After all, he laid siege to and sacked many wealthy cities and city states during two decades of forging his massive empire.

One Legend says that Khan wished to be buried in Mount Burkhan Khaldun in Mongolia’s wild Khingan mountain range. Once his royal tomb was complete all the slaves used in its construction were massacred by soldiers loyal to the Khan.

Then other soldiers were made to slay these soldiers to ensure that nobody alive knew anything about where the Khan’s treasure was buried.

Other legends say that his tomb was buried, covered in earth and then had trees planted above it to ensure it remained hidden forever. Another even more fantastic tale recounts how an entire river was diverted to keep the treasure safe in a watery grave.

800 years have passed since his death but the treasure of Great Khan still remains uncovered.

Why has nobody found it…yet?

The first reason is Mongolia is massive and very sparsely populated.

The second reason is that nobody has any idea where to start, despite all the legends.

The reality is that Genghis Khan would never have asked for a grand tomb to be constructed above ground, so your search will need to start in caves. A recent study has suggested that his tomb might be located at least 20 meters underground.

How much would the Khan’s treasure be worth in modern money?

Assuming that he was buried with only 10% of this total wealth, Genghis Khan’s tomb contains at least US$3 billion in gold and other treasure.

The Oak Island Treasure

List of Treasures - The Oak Island Treasure
  • Lost: 1500AD
  • Estimated Value: $Unknown
  • Contents: Unknown (pirate gold, Spanish gold, treasure of the Knights Templar)
  • Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

Tales of treasure come and go, but the mystery surrounding what lies hidden beneath Oak Island has endured for hundreds of years.

The “Money Pit” was first discovered in 1795 by local boy, Daniel McGinnis.  He stumbled across a tree with its branches arranged like a pulley, over an indentation in the ground. The entire area was steeped in tales of pirate treasure, so Daniel gathered together some friends and they began digging.

What they uncovered has intrigued treasure hunters ever since – a series of oak platforms every ten feet, leading deeper and deeper into the shaft. Despite years of effort McGinnis and his friends were unable to uncover any actual treasure.

Since then, ownership of the island has passed to several different groups, all of whom have unsuccessfully attempted to recover whatever treasure is hidden underneath Oak Island. Six people have died trying, and millions spent in one failed attempt after another.

But what treasure might be hidden in the “Money Pit”?

One legend says that some of the Knights Templar traveled across the Atlantic to Nova Scotia, away from the grasp of Philip VI of France.

Others believe that the pit is the resting place of a vast haul of pirate gold, probably belonging to either Blackbeard or Captain Kidd.

How much would this treasure be worth?

A stone tablet hinted that £2 million (British pounds) of gold lies buried there. That probably seems impressive enough, but you have to adjust that amount to take inflation into account and convert into dollars – so that would come to US$49 million today.

And it’s just sitting there waiting to finally be unearthed.

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Yamashita’s Gold

List of Treasures - Yamashita's Gold
  • Lost: 1945
  • Estimated Value: $100 billion
  • Contents: Gold, silver, jewelry, artwork
  • Location: Philippines

World War II brought about some of the greatest battles in human history, from the Normandy Invasion of Operation Overlord, to the Battle of Kursk, or the Battle of El Alamein.

Most students of history will be able to give you a good account of what happened in Europe during World War II from 1941 onwards, but might not be as familiar with Japan’s explosive expansion across China during the late 1930s.

Basically, Japan invaded China in 1937 and crushed the Chinese military in a series of battles that left China reeling. And as the Japanese raced across China and Central Asia, they looted each country for everything it was worth. Banks, factories, temples, art galleries and private homes were stripped bare of anything of value, especially gold and gems.

The proceeds of the invasion of China were then shipped back to Japan via Luzon in The Philippines, to fund the ongoing war effort. But the Japanese defeat during the Battle of Midway indicated that Japan was going to lose the war within a few short years, no matter how much gold it had.

So the plan was to hide the gold in and around the Philippines, with this concealment managed by General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

At first Yamashita buried the gold and other valuables in underground tunnels outside Manila, dug by prisoners of war who were then executed to keep the location of the tunnels a secret.

But as the Americans drew closer, Yamashita eventually resorted to deliberately sinking ships laden with gold off the coast of the Philippines, and burying smaller stashes of gold across the island as he retreated before the American forces.

As of right now, nobody has uncovered a single verifiable piece of Yamashita’s Gold, so that means there’s somewhere in the region of US$100 billion in gold waiting to be discovered.

The Ark of the Covenant

Ark of Covenant laying waste to army
  • Lost: 607 B.C
  • Estimated Value: Priceless
  • Contents: The 10 Commandments!
  • Location: Unknown

Of all the lost treasures in the world, none have as much perceived value as The Ark of The Covenant. Made famous by the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, Stephen Spielberg introduced the world to the lore of the ark containing the 10 Commandments. Yes, the same stone tablets handed to Moses by God.

But what makes the Ark so special, apart from the fact that it might contain some ancient stone tablets?

The reasons why the Ark is literally priceless (and we do mean priceless) are because it was created based on commands directly from God…and no army carrying the Ark before it could be defeated.

The Bible is filled with stories of the Ark laying waste to entire armies, and even causing the walls of Jericho to come tumbling down. Even some of the Levite priests who took care of the Ark dropped dead because they stood too close to it.

So, the Ark of the Covenant is not only of vast historical (and monetary) value, but it might also be an incredibly powerful weapon, with some theorizing that whatever is inside this holy relic might be some type of particle weapon, or a weapon with a nuclear power source.

Where should a treasure hunter begin their search?

If you’re already interested in Templar lore then you could start there. Some historians believe that the real reason for The Crusades was to retrieve both the Ark and the Holy Grail from Jerusalem.

Others believe that the Ark was brought to the Chapel of the Tablet in Ethiopia, where it still resides today, its power hidden from tyrannical hands.

Whoever finally discovers the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant can name their price – countries would bankrupt themselves to acquire it.

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Inca Gold: The Treasure of the Llanganatis

List of Treasures - Inca Gold: The Treasure of the Llanganatis
  • Lost: 1533
  • Estimated Value: US$2.9 billion
  • Contents: At least 750 tons of gold
  • Location: Somewhere in the Llanganates Mountain Range

The history of this lost treasure begins in 1532 when the army of the Incan Emperor Atahualpa was defeated by the tiny force of Francisco Pizarro.  Once the Spaniards had defeated the Incans they then looted the city, imprisoning Atahualpa in the process.

Atahualpa recognized the Conquistadors greed for gold and silver, so he made a deal with them – he would fill several rooms with gold and silver if they set him free.

Pizarro agreed.

For several months Incan slaves ferried a fortune in gold and silver to Pizarro and his men. A final payment was due, made up of 750 tons of gold, but the Incans seemed to be on the verge of revolting against the 183 Spaniards.

Pizarro saw the writing on the wall, so had Atahualpa strangled and then burned at the stake. Meanwhile Atahualpa’s trusted general Rumiñahui was enroute with the promised gold.

Outraged by the treachery of the Spanish he hid the gold somewhere in the Llanganates Mountains. He then went to war with the Spanish, ultimately being defeated…but he died without telling the Spanish where the 750 tons of gold were hidden.

There have been numerous expeditions to the region. While nobody has ever located the main “vault”, several adventurers have returned with tales of wealth beyond imagination.

So why were these tales never followed up on?

Well…because anyone who gets anywhere near Atahualpa’s gold either drops dead from disease, shoots themselves, impales themselves on sharp branches, or mysteriously falls overboard from a ship while traveling home.

It appears that Pizarro’s treachery had a karmic price, so now the only question is: Do you believe in curses?

Because if not, there’s a cave somewhere in Peru stacked floor to ceiling with enough gold to pay for a small country.

The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

List of Treasures - The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine
  • Lost: 1870
  • Estimated Value: Several hundred million dollars
  • Contents: Gold nuggets and ore, or Montezuma’s Gold
  • Location: Arizona

What better place to start a treasure hunting story than the Superstition Mountains in Arizona? Interestingly enough the tale of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine actually has its roots in the tale of Francisco Pizarro.

Another Conquistador by the name of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado came to Arizona from Mexico in 1540, searching for the lost cities of gold he’d heard about in so many tales.

Upon meeting local Apache Indians, Coronado and his men are told two things:

  1. The nearby mountains are sacred and protected by the Thunder God.
  2. There’s gold in the mountains.

History has shown us that Conquistadors weren’t a sensible bunch, so they promptly took to searching the mountain range for this gold. And one by one they disappeared, their headless bodies found nearby. This was enough to convince them to flee the area.

Two hundred years later in 1748, Don Miguel Peralta gained ownership of the mountain, and discovered it was in fact rich with gold. His mining efforts earned him millions of pesos as a result, but he was careful not to anger the Apache tribes nearby.

In 1847 his descendant Pedro Peralta took 400 men into the mountains to grab as much gold as they could before Arizona became part of the United States – due to the ongoing Mexican War.

This total disregard for their sacred mountain drove the Apaches insane, and they slaughtered all but one man from that mining expedition.

No Peralta ever ventured to the mountains again in search of gold.

But in the 1870s a German miner named Jacob Waltz showed up in Phoenix with saddlebags overflowing with gold. Waltz was extremely coy about where he found the gold, but many assumed he’d located the Peralta Gold Mine either by accident or the location was given to him by his Apache mistress.

People tried following Waltz back to his mine, but he always managed to lose them. So, for the next 20 years he would turn up in Phoenix with a fortune in gold, and no explanation as to where he found it.

Then in 1891 Waltz was almost killed in a flood that washed away his home. While recuperating he allegedly shared information and cryptic clues about the location of the gold mine with his rescuers, Herman and Reinhardt Petrasch.

But he never told them exactly where the mine was located, and he took his secret to the grave when he died several months later.

The Superstition Mountains are located just 30 miles outside Phoenix…so the question now is how has the gold mine remained “lost” for well over 100 years?

The first reason is that the mountains themselves are treacherous, even for experienced adventurers. And the second reason is that dozens of people have died while trying to find the Lost Dutchman’s Gold mine…usually in horrific circumstances.

So, many believe the gold itself is cursed.

If you’re not superstitious then a literal mountain of gold awaits you.

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Montezuma’s Treasure

List of Treasures - Montezuma's Treasure
  • Lost: 1520
  • Estimated Value: Priceless
  • Contents: Gold and gems
  • Location: Utah…maybe

What most people never question is why the Aztecs didn’t freak out when white men with beards showed up in their country in the 1500s.

The answer is that Aztec mythology mentions the “Wise men”, white men who once visited their shores in boats that had no oars. These mystical figures had given them the gift of writing and agriculture, and said they would return some day. (Source: Magicians of the Gods, by Graham Hancock)

So, when Hernan Cortes and his buddies showed up in 1510, they were first sent gifts of gold and silver by Aztec Emperor Montezuma, in the hope that they’d allow him to continue his rule.

Montezuma had something in common with the Spaniards in that he loved gold too, and had amassed a vast horde of it by slaughtering any other Mesoamerican tribes he came across. To the rest of the Aztecs these bearded white men were simply Gods walking among them.

But Cortes was greedy. Stupidly greedy.

So he threw Montezuma in prison, locked up his allies, and the Spaniards then proceeded to rape, pillage and murder their way through the capital of Tenochtitlán, and the surrounding area.

The Aztec people finally realized that Cortes and his buddies weren’t Gods, but also that their Emperor wasn’t as powerful as he made out. They rose up in rebellion, stoned Montezuma to death and murdered every single Conquistador they could lay their hands on.

Knowing the Spaniards avarice for gold, they hid all of Montezuma’s treasure, knowing that Cortes would return some day looking for it.

Cortes came back to the city a year later (1521) and took it back, torturing the new Aztec emperor to have him reveal the location of the gold…but the new emperor knew only that the gold had been taken north and hidden in or near a lake.

While that might sound like the easiest treasure map in the world to follow, what Cortes didn’t know was that there were thousands of lakes in the area…and he searched 5,000 of them in an effort to find the gold.

Where is the gold now?

Somewhere in Utah, according to one legend, although that seems entirely implausible. Another has it that the gold is buried under what is now Mexico City. Yet another tale is that the Spanish actually got their hands on the gold, loaded it onto ships, and those same ships sank in the Atlantic during a storm.

There’s also the belief that The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine was actually a cave in Arizona, crammed full of Montezuma’s Gold.

And the geography behind that link actually makes sense.

The Legend of Maximilian’s Gold

List of Treasures - The Legend of Maximilian's Gold
  • Lost: 1867
  • Estimated Value: Several million dollars
  • Contents: Gold coins, jewelry and gold and silver plate
  • Location: Castle Leap, Texas

Maximilian I of Mexico was actually Austrian, put in power by Napoleon III after France invaded Mexico in 1861.  He had already distinguished himself in the Austrian Navy, so caught Napoleon’s eye as a result.

Arriving in 1864, he declared himself Emperor of Mexico, and then went on to act like a complete asshat for the next few years.  Both Max and his wife had expensive tastes, and they lived the high life, regardless of how their subjects suffered.

After the end of the American Civil War, America put a lot of pressure on Napoleon to back out of his involvement in Mexico. Napoleon finally agreed, but Maximilian didn’t like being told what to do, so he stayed put and passed the Black Decree in an effort to stay in control.

In short, this resulted in the execution of 11,000 members of the Mexican Resistance.

So, with the writing on the wall, Maximilian sent his wife home to Austria. He then packed up all his gold and silver into 45 barrels, set to leave the Port of Galveston in Texas. Wagons carrying the barrels were placed under the guard of a handful of trusted Austrian soldiers, along with some former Confederate soldiers.

Everything went swimmingly until the Confederates realized they were guarding a king’s ransom in gold and other valuables. They murdered the Austrian soldiers, but knew they’d never navigate hostile Indian territory with this much treasure in tow.

So they took enough gold coins to get them where they were going, and buried the rest of Maximilian’s treasure in Castle Gap, near Horsehead Crossing. Along the way one of the Confederate soldiers, a guy named Murdock, became ill and had to be left behind.

The rest of the Confederates were killed by Indians, meaning Murdock was the last man alive who knew where the gold was buried.

After a series of very unfortunate events, including hooking up with Jesse James, and then being thrown in prison, Murdock found himself on his death bed. A local physician, Doctor Black, tried to care for him but knew it was hopeless unless Murdock was freed from prison.

Murdock engaged the services of a lawyer named O’Connor to secure his freedom, but by the time he turned up Murdock was dying.  Black and O’Connor were handed a treasure map by Murdock before he died.

The shifting deserts had changed the landscape, rendering the map useless, so Black and O’Connor were out of luck.

But the gold is still there, somewhere near Castle Gap and Horsehead Crossing.

The Amber Room

List of Treasures - The Amber Room
  • Lost: 1943
  • Estimated Value: $170 million
  • Contents: Amber and gold
  • Location: Unknown

All of the lost treasures we’ve mentioned so far have been of the “lots of gold and precious stones” variety, so we wanted to change things up here.

We present to you the Amber Room, an entire room made from fossilized tree resin, otherwise known as the gemstone amber.

Once known as the 8th Wonder of the World, the room was constructed in Prussia, and then presented as a gift to Tsar Peter the Great of Russia in 1716, eventually being installed in the palace of Catherine the Great near St. Petersburg.

When the Nazi war machine swept through Russia in the summer of 1941, those responsible for the Amber Room tried to disassemble it to move it out of the reach of Hitler’s forces. Their attempts to both move it and camouflage it failed miserably.

The Nazis took possession of the Amber Room, moving the entire thing to Konigsberg Castle. Hitler’s plan for an empire lasting 1,000 years had fallen apart by 1945, and Konigsberg fell…but the Russian forces could find no trace of the Amber Room.

So…what happened to it?

Some historians and treasure hunters believe it was taken apart and loaded onto the doomed passenger ship Wilhelm Gustloff.

Why doomed?

Because it was torpedoed in the Baltic Sea, and over 9,000 people lost their lives.

Where is the treasure now?

Well, that’s the thing with lost treasure – nobody really knows. There are several possibilities:

  • It’s at the bottom of the Baltic Sea in or near the wreck of the Wilhelm Gustloff
  • It’s buried underneath Konigsberg Castle, or somewhere under the city itself
  • The Nazis hid it in one of the many tunnels they constructed to hide their spoils of war in
  • It’s hidden in Germany, taken back there by German forces fleeing the Russian army
  • The Russians actually took it back from Konigsberg and have kept it hidden ever since

The Lake Toplitz Nazi Treasure

List of Treasures - The Lake Toplitz Nazi Treasure
  • Lost: 1945
  • Estimated Value: $100,000,000
  • Contents: Gold, silver, and priceless works of art
  • Location: Austria

The Nazis really had a thing for stealing treasure and hiding it. Or trying to hide it, but usually doing a really bad job.

The story of the Lake Toplitz Nazi Treasure is no different in that regard.  You all know that the Nazis were completely defeated at the end of World War II, but people are still trying to figure out what they did with all the treasure they stole from the countries they invaded.

During their retreat from the Soviet and Allied forces, the Nazis either buried the gold and precious items in tunnels, or in this case they threw them into a lake…but it’s anyone’s guess as to why you’d throw a fortune in gold into a lake, knowing you can’t get it back

Lake Toplitz in Austria is just one such example of a lake that has unknown treasure hidden at the bottom of it. And this isn’t speculation either – part of the Nazi “treasure” was a small mountain of counterfeit notes they planned to flood the English market with. Some of these notes have been recovered from Lake Toplitz, so there’s a good chance there’s gold down there too.

But, as with all tales of lost treasures and vast wealth, there’s a snag – the lake is almost impossible to get to because of the involvement of the Austrian government. And even if you can get to the lake it’s incredibly difficult and dangerous to dive in because of sunken tree logs.

Nobody has managed to bring any of the chests filled with gold and diamonds back to the surface, so there’s every chance they’re still at the bottom of the lake.

How much do scuba diving lessons cost?

The Treasure of the Flor de la Mar

List of Treasures - The Treasure of the Flor de la Mar
  • Lost: 1511
  • Estimated Value: US$2.6 Billion
  • Contents: Gold cups, gold bullion and silver plates
  • Location: Somewhere near Sumatra

Back in the days when Portugal was a major sea power, and a major power in general, the Flor de La Mar was the biggest ship in the Portuguese Navy, and also one of the most well known.

After seeing service in several battles, this 400-ton frigate (or carrack) was then put to work sailing from Lisbon to the Far East to collect tribute between 1502 and 1511. This tribute was collected from the recently conquered Sultanate of Malacca, but also from the kingdom of Siam.

By tribute we mean “an absolutely mind-blowing amount of gold”, over 50,000kg of it.  This was a lot of gold back then, allegedly the most treasure ever carried by the Portuguese Navy. And it’s still an incredible amount of gold by today’s standards – enough to pay for your own space program, if that’s your thing.

But karma didn’t seem to want this gold to find its way back to Portugal, maybe because the ship had been used in the conquest of parts of India. So, the Flor de la Mar sank in the Straits of Malacca after running into a violent tropical storm on November 20th, 1511. And 50,000kg of gold went straight down with her.

This was due in no small part to the fact the ship itself had a reputation for being extremely unseaworthy, and had been damaged and repaired on previous voyages.

The captain of the ship actually survived, but because the ship broke in two nobody knows the exact location of the shipwreck.  Even more confusing is that nobody knows what country owns the salvage rights of the gold and whatever is left of the ship.

But what we do know for certain is that somewhere between Singapore and Banda Aceh lies US$2.9 billion in gold.

The San Miguel & The Lost 1715 Treasure Fleet

List of Treasures - The San Miguel & The Lost 1715 Treasure Fleet
  • Lost: 31st July, 1715
  • Estimated Value: US$2,000,000,000
  • Contents: Gold coins, precious stones, jewels and gold bullion
  • Location: Off the coast of Florida (USA)

The War of Succession started after Charles II died, leaving no heir behind him. This was probably because he was severely mentally and physically retarded after centuries of aristocratic inbreeding.

He wasn’t unusual in this by the way, most of the royal families in Europe were so inbred they would have had their own reality TV show today.

So, Charles II died in 1700, leaving everything he owned to Philip, the grandson of King Louis of France. This move pissed a lot of people off, so the War of Succession kicked off between Spain, France, Germany, the Holy Roman Empire and the United Kingdom in 1701.

Wars are expensive things, so Spain organized a treasure fleet to bring gold, precious stones, silver and other precious items from the Americas to pay for the ongoing fighting for the Spanish throne.

A fleet of 12 ships, including the frigate San Miguel, left Havana in late July, doing their best to avoid pirates by setting sail perilously close to hurricane season. And they managed to keep the pirates at bay by doing this, but they also managed to sail straight into a hurricane, which on July 31st 1715 sank all but one of the ships.

Spain managed to salvage about 50% of the lost treasure, but not all of it.  In fact, only 7 of the eleven ships have been located, and only a tiny amount of the gold and other valuables they contained has been salvaged.

What’s even more interesting is that the San Miguel has never been found, and common practice was to place the most valuable items on frigates because they could outrun pirate ships.

So, somewhere near Vero Beach, Florida is the Spanish frigate San Miguel, with a belly full of gold bullion and precious stones.

King John’s Treasure/ King John’s Jewels

List of Treasures -King John's Treasure
  • Lost: 1216
  • Estimated Value: $70 million
  • Contents: gold coins, jewels, a priceless sword, gold cups, silver
  • Location: Norfolk, United Kingdom

With this tale of lost treasure we’re taking a trip back in time to Medieval England and the time of Bad King John.

If you’re not immediately familiar with who Bad King John was, he was the same King John that the mythical figure Robin Hood “…robbed from the rich to feed the poor”. Nobody is certain if Robin Hood really existed, but King John (also known as John Lackland) definitely did.

John gained the throne thanks to the efforts of his brother Richard Lionheart fighting in the Crusades. Richard died on his journey back from the Holy Land, killed while he was laying siege to a tiny French castle.

So, when King John became ruler of England he set about introducing a whole new range of taxes, crippling the country as a result, driving many people into poverty. The flip side of this is that these taxes made John incredibly wealthy – like Warren Buffet wealthy.

He used this money to fight a war with France, which he ultimately lost. When he returned to England he faced an uprising of his own noblemen, aided by the French.

During England’s civil war, Bad King John traveled to the friendly town of Bishop’s Lynn in Norfolk in October 1216, an area also known as “The Wash” because it was basically a huge marsh dotted with mud flats.

John contracted dysentery during his visit to Bishop’s Lynn, and decided to take the long route home, avoiding traveling through The Wash. But in a moment of incredible stupidity – something John was famous for – he ordered his wagons loaded down with gold to travel through the dangerous marshes and mud flats.

Guess what happened? Yup, they all drowned when the incoming tide caught them off guard, and John’s treasure was lost forever. Then he died a few days later of dysentery, so his world fell apart in more ways than one.

Where should a treasure hunter start looking?

The first location to investigate is near Sutton Bridge in Norfolk, because this is where the tide would have caught his treasure train at that time.

Another potential crossing point for John’s treasure was near a place called Walpole, but many believe Sutton Bridge to be the final resting place of John’s US$70,000,000 in gold, jewels and priceless heirlooms.

Lost Imperial Fabergé Eggs

List of Treasures - Lost Imperial Fabergé Eggs
  • Lost: 1917-1929
  • Estimated Value: $90 – 150,000,000
  • Contents: Eight Faberge Golden Eggs
  • Location: Unknown / Russia

The Russian Revolution wasn’t a happy time for the Romanov family, mostly because the revolutionaries executed the entire family…with the possible exception of Alexei and Anastasia. The two youngest of the Romanov’s are rumored to have either escaped, or been spared the fate suffered by the rest of their family.

Tsar Nicholas II wasn’t a particularly good ruler, and the utter defeat of Russia by Germany in WWI just added fuel to the fire.

But what has all this got to do with lost treasure?

The Romanov’s spent ridiculous amounts of money on stuff, and they had a particular weakness for Fabergé Eggs. So much so that in 1885 they commissioned Peter Carl Faberge to produce 52 Imperial eggs for the family, each worth several million dollars by current standards.

In 1917 the Romanov Empire was toppled, and most of the family were executed, and their various treasures were stored in the Kremlin Armory. All 52 of the Fabergé eggs were meant to be part of that haul…but somehow 8 of the eggs got lost in transit to Moscow.

So, these remaining eggs are hidden somewhere in Russia (or possibly overseas), each of them worth at least US$10 million each. Although the fact that they’re one of the “lost eggs” could quite easily double or triple that value during auction.

Time to take some Russian lessons, Dr. Jones!

The Missing Kruger Millions

List of Treasures - The Missing Kruger Millions
  • Lost: 1890
  • Estimated Value: US$250 million
  • Contents: Gold coins, silver coins, gold bars
  • Location: South Africa

The Boer Wars are remembered for a number of reasons. The first of these is that the British Army had their asses handed to them on several occasions by a bunch of farmers.

The second is that the British took out their anger on the Boers by throwing men, women and children into a new type of prison – the first ever use of concentration camps. Yes, the same style used by the Nazis during WWII.

And the third reason – and the only one you’re interested in – is the missing gold of Boer President, Paul Kruger.

You see, the Boer’s never had any hope of defeating a professional army. And once it became obvious the capital of Pretoria would fall, they emptied their vaults and banks of all their gold.

Legend has it that much of South Africa’s wealth traveled east with Paul Kruger, but didn’t leave Mozambique by ship with him on October 19th 1900.

Instead, much of the lost Kruger gold is located somewhere in the North Eastern Transvaal. No treasure hunter has yet to unearth even a single gold coin of this treasure trove.

Somewhere between Pretoria and the border with Mozambique lays hidden US$250,000,000 in gold coins and ingots.

Dutch Schultz’s Hidden Fortune

List of Treasures - Dutch Schultz's Hidden Fortune
  • Lost: 1935
  • Estimated Value: US$7 –
  • Contents: Cash, bonds, diamonds, gold coins
  • Location: Catskill Mountains, New York State

Arthur Simon Flegenheimer doesn’t sound like a criminal to be feared, but Dutch Schultz is a name most people recognize. And in the 1930s many people grew to fear this man because of his involvement with organized crime and the Mafia.

Crime made Schultz rich, and he allegedly earned at least US$20 million each year from various activities. But the authorities set out to hit Schultz where it would hurt him the most – in the pocket.

After years of being chased for tax evasion, he was eventually tried…but was mysteriously acquitted. The US government however had no intention of giving up on putting Schultz in prison for several years, and Schultz knew this.

He knew the government would take everything he owned, so he had a special airtight safe built to hold as much of his fortune in gold, bonds and bank notes as he could cram in there. Then he took this safe to a secret location in the Catskill Mountains, accompanied only by his driver.

What Schultz didn’t know is that his empire was being carved up by other mob bosses, because they figured he’d be convicted during a second trial, and they didn’t want him singing any songs to the authorities.

At 10:15pm on October 23rd, 1935 Dutch Schultz was shot by two gunmen. He survived for 22 hours in hospital, rambling like a mad man before he passed away. His driver was also shot dead the same night, so the only two men who knew the location of Schultz’s safe died within hours of each other.

The only real clues to the possible location of Dutch’s hidden treasure is that it’s somewhere near Phoenicia and Esopus Creek, apparently buried just a few feet from a huge sycamore tree.

Captain Kidd’s Treasure

List of Treasures - Captain Kidd's Treasure
  • Lost: 1695
  • Estimated Value: Unknown
  • Contents: Gold and silver
  • Location: Off the coast of the Dominican Republic

Born in Scotland in 1654, William Kidd always wanted to be a sailor. Kidd eventually set up home in New York, but in 1695 traveled to Britain to meet the king and ask him if he could join the British Navy.

The king refused but gave Kidd the secret mission of tracking down pirates and returning any lost treasure to the coffers of Great Britain.  Why the king refused Kidd’s request is anyone’s guess, but probably due to the fact that Kidd had been part of a pirate crew operating in the Caribbean for years beforehand.

So, Kidd set sail, but found no pirates. Or at least he didn’t until he came across the Cara (Quedagh) Merchant. Kidd believed it to be a pirate ship, so took control of it and sailed to what is now the Dominican Republic.

What he didn’t know is that the Cara Merchant was backed by a British company, so Kidd was immediately accused of piracy.

Kidd got his hands on a ship to take him back to England to explain his case. The Cara Merchant was left in the care of friends in the Dominican Republic…who promptly unloaded it and then set it on fire. Great friends, right?

Kidd was found guilty of piracy and hung.  Then they dipped him in tar…because death by hanging isn’t bad enough?

Over the years various treasure hunters have claimed to have found the wreck of the Cara Merchant, but each claim has been disproven.

So the Cara Merchant, and its precious load of gold and silver, is sitting at the bottom of the sea just waiting for somebody to find it.

Blackbeard’s Treasure

List of Treasures - Blackbeard's Treasure
  • Lost: 1718
  • Estimated Value: US$20+ million
  • Contents: gold, silver, silks, precious stones
  • Location:

If ever a pirate needed no introduction then it would be the one and only Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.  He was called Blackbeard…well…because he had a black beard.

The weird thing about Edward Teach is that very little is known about the early years of his life. What we do know is that he operated as a privateer (naval mercenary) during Queen Anne’s War (1702 – 1713). This war was to gain control of North America, fought between England, France and Spain.

Teach distinguished himself during the war, but was never awarded a command…probably because he was on the unstable side of things.

Blackbeard then joined the pirate crew of Captain Benjamin Hornigold in 1716, who finally gave him command of his own ship. For the next few years they raided throughout the region, capturing one ship after another. One ship, La Concorde, was captured and renamed “Queen Anne’s Revenge”, and had a total of 46 cannons fitted to it. This gave Blackbeard the kind of firepower other captains had nightmares about.

All this pirating made Blackbeard very wealthy, but he also got bored with it. So he ran his ship aground, and settled in a town called Bath, where he received a pardon from Governor Eden.

But piracy was in his blood, and within a few months Teach was back at sea, pirating his little heart out. However, Teach knew that the Royal Navy was closing in, so buried as much of his treasure as he could. Fate finally caught up with Blackbeard when his ship was attacked by two vessels of the Royal Navy in 1718.

Teach was ambushed as he boarded one of these ships, finally dying of 5 gunshot wounds, and twenty wounds inflicted by swords or knives. His body was dumped at sea, and his head was suspended from the prow of one the Royal Navy ships.

Where did Blackbeard bury his treasure?

He loved spending time on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina but repeated attempts to locate his treasure there have failed.

But Blackbeard’s treasure is out there somewhere along the Carolina coast, possibly in a cave that nobody has come across yet.

Paititi/El Dorado – Lost City Of Gold

List of Treasures - Paititi: Lost City of Gold - El Dorado
  • Lost: 1572
  • Estimated Value: $10,000,000,000
  • Contents: Incan gold & artifacts, gold bars, jewelry, etc.
  • Location: Brazil

Most treasure hunters will associate El Dorado with the fabled Lost City of Gold that many have tried to find, but none have succeeded.

There’s a pretty good reason for this too – El Dorado wasn’t a place, but rather a man. When you translate it from Incan to English it actually means “the gilded one” or “golden man”.

The reason for this is that the legend of the city started because of a Muisca Chieftain who would cover himself with gold dust before jumping into Lake Guatavita. But the Conquistadors were greedy and a bit stupid, so didn’t pay attention to the nuances.

There is no legendary lost city of El Dorado…but there is the lost City of Paititi, which is the actual “city of gold spoken” about by treasure hunters since the 1500s. Some of these treasure hunters even went as far as draining Lake Guatavita, convinced they’d find sunken gold…which they didn’t.

The Incas fought the Spanish invaders until 1572, when the decided to retreat from their lands and head to southern Brazil, taking their treasure with them.  They built the city of Paititi as their final refuge from the Spanish invaders, and as a place to hide their gold.

Then the location of the city and its tribes passed into legend. Or at least it did until the ongoing deforestation of Brazil revealed a huge city where Paititi was rumored to have been located deep inside the jungle.

Does that mean the treasure of “El Dorado” has finally been discovered? No, but it means that the location of Paititi has, and the US$10 billion in gold can’t be too far away.


You might have given up on your childhood dream of becoming a treasure hunter, but there are treasures still out there waiting for you to find them.

Maybe it’s time to get a whip, a hat, and become the adventurer you’ve always wanted to be?

About the Author

CM Burns
CM Burns
CM Burns has been a music video director, a cameraman for Nat Geo, has recorded ancient Tibetan chants in India and swum with whales in Baja, California. Currently living in the Philippines you will find him anywhere Adventure happens.
CM Burns
CM Burns
CM Burns has been a music video director, a cameraman for Nat Geo, has recorded ancient Tibetan chants in India and swum with whales in Baja, California. Currently living in the Philippines you will find him anywhere Adventure happens.
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