Top Ten Lost Treasures of the World
King John’s Treasure
King John ‘the Bad’ was particularly fond of collecting (stealing) jewellery and gold plate for himself and coinage for his guards, soldiers and court followers. In 1216 King John travelled to Bishops Lynn in Norfolk where he arrived on the 9th October. The area is aptly named The Wash as it was once a huge expanse of marshes and dangerous mud flats.
At Bishop’s Lynn, King John fell ill with dysentery and decided to return to Newark Castle via Wisbech. He took the slower and safer route around The Wash. However, his soldiers and carts full of his personal possessions and treasury, including the crown jewels he had inherited from his grandmother the Empress of Germany, took the shorter route through the marshes.
Trapped by the tide they were drowned – possibly close to Sutton Bridge. The treasure carts were lost and never recovered. King John died a few days later on the 18th October 1216. What really happened is probably much more complex.
Lost: 1216 AD / Estimated Value: $70,000,000 / Location: Great Britain / The United Kingdom
Contents: Crown jewels, gold goblets, silver plate, golden wand with a dove, the sword of Tristram, gold coins.
The Secret City of Paititi
Most people have heard the story of El Dorado, a city full of gold lost somewhere in the rainforests of South America. In fact, El Dorado is actually a legend about a Muisca Chieftain (the Golden One) who would cover himself with gold dust before certain religious ceremonies.
The real City of Gold is Paititi. In brief, the Spanish had been at war with the Incas of Peru for nearly forty years and the Incas had retreated to the Vilcabamba Valley where they held off the invaders until 1572.
When the Spanish finaly conquered the Incas, they found the city largely deserted. It appeared as if the Incas had fled to a new location in the rainforests of southern Brazil taking their vast treasure of gold with them. The new city was never found nor was the gold and eventually the story was relegated to the status of a myth.
However, in 2009 satellite photos of deforested areas of the Boco do Acre region of Brazil have revealed that there were once vast settlements. These can be clearly seen on Google Earth and have forced historians and archaeologists to review their thinking. It now seems possible once again that Paititi really did exist along with a potential hoard of lost Inca gold.
Lost: 1572 / Estimated Value: $10,000,000,000 / Location: Brazil
Contents: Incan gold & artefacts, gold bars, jewellery, etc.
The Missing Kruger Millions
During the Second Anglo-Boer War the South African descendants of the Dutch settlers, the Boers, realised that their capital, Pretoria, would soon be captured by British troops so they swiftly commandeered as much gold as they could from government reserves, banks and the mines. They also minted many thousands of new gold coins.
Much of this gold is believed to have travelled with the Boer President, Paul Kruger, as he journeyed eastwards through Middleburg, Machadadorp and Waterfal Boven towards Mozambique to escape the advancing British.
He departed, by ship, for France on the 19th of October 1900. The gold remained behind, hidden somewhere in the bushveld of the North Eastern Transvaal. It has never been officially found although it is a popular ‘scam’ for con men to try and sell the whereabouts of the gold to gullible tourists.
Claims that the treasure (or part of it) was discovered in 2001 close to Ermelo are generally considered somewhat dubious. During January of 2021 a small sack of missing Kruger Rands (Ponds) was discovered in a Swiss Bank vault. Although just a fraction of the full treasure it was still worth a fortune. This was acquired by the South African mint who have made some of them available to buy.
Lost: 1890 / Estimated Value: $250,000,000.00 / Location: South Africa
Contents: Gold coins, ingots, gold dust, silver ingots & coins.
The Treasure of the Copper Scroll
Located to the west of the northern tip of the Dead Sea and near to the town of Kalya is the Qumran archaeological site. On a desert plateau carved by ravines are the caves where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were initially discovered by Bedouin in 1946. The later excavation of 11 caves by archaeologists sponsored by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities uncovered 972 parchment and papyrus texts and two unusual scrolls made of copper. These would turn out to be one scroll that had been divided into two pieces.
This rare find was discovered on the 14th March 1952 at the back of Cave 3, somewhat separate from the other finds. The scroll was badly oxidised and fragile to touch but it was obvious that it was different from the other leather and paper scrolls
It turned out to be a detailed list of 64 locations where significant amounts of gold and silver had been hidden. It was written as if anyone reading it would have familiarity with the places mentioned and is believed to have been created between 110 and 30 BCE.
Although many historians believe that some of the treasure may have been found by the Romans during their occupation of the region, it is reasonable to think that at least some of the locations were never revealed.
For Example: Item 3. In the funeral shrine, in the 3rd row of stones: One hundred gold ingots. Item 5: In the ascent of the ‘staircase of refuge’, to the left-hand side, three cubits up from the floor are forty talents of silver. Item 32: In the cave that is next to (unknown) and belonging to the House of Hakkoz, dig six cubits. Within are six ingots of gold.
Lost: Circa 100 BC / Estimated Value: $1.2 Billion + / Location: Israel / Jordon
Contents: Gold and silver coins, ingots and artefacts.
The Treasure of the Flor de la Mar
The Flor de la Mar (Flower of the Sea) was a 400-ton Portuguese carrack (frigate) built in Lisbon during 1502. The naval history of the ship was impressive, and it was involved in the battle of Diu, the subjugation of Goa and the capture of Malacca.
Captained by Alfonso de Albuquerque the ship was loaded with a vast treasure taken from Malacca as well as tributes from the King of Siam. According to various historical accounts it was the largest treasure ever assembled in the history of the Portuguese navy.
The Flor de la Mar set sail for Portugal, together with four other ships, but was caught in a violent storm in the Straits of Malacca. On the 20th November 1511 it was shipwrecked on the reefs of Sumatra. The ship broke in two and although Alfonso was saved, the treasure and many young slaves were lost to the waves.
The exact location of the shipwreck is confused, probably due to the inaccurate maps of the time. It is considered the richest treasure still to be found.
Lost: 1511 / Estimated Value: $2.6 Billion + (54,431kg of Gold x $49,000 per Kg) / Location: Off the coast of Sumatra
Contents: Gold goblets, silver plate and extensive gold bullion
The Lost Fabergé Eggs
Peter Carl Fabergé (also known as Karl Gustavovich Fabergé) and his brother Agathon were Russian jewellers of French descent based in St. Petersburg. They rapidly became famous for the extraordinary quality and beauty of their work.
During 1885, Tsar Alexander III (House of Romanov) commissioned the production of the gold and enamel ‘Hen Egg’ for his wife the Empress Maria which she adored. Fabergé was made ‘Goldsmith by Special Appointment to the Imperial Crown’ and over the next 33 years 52 eggs were made for the Russian Royal Family as well as a further 15 for other private buyers.
The 1917 Russian Revolution toppled Tsar Nicholas II who was executed along with much of the royal family in July 1918. Fearing for his safety, Peter Carl Faberge abandoned Russia travelling first to Latvia, then Germany and finally Switzerland where he died in Lausene in 1920.
The Fabergé eggs and many other treasures of the Royal family were confiscated by the Russian revolutionaries and stored in the vaults of the Kremlin Armoury. Some were sold to raise funds for the new regime. Over time eight of the original 52 Imperial eggs have vanished and their whereabouts remain a mystery to this day.
A full list of missing eggs is below. In 2007, just one egg, ‘The Rothschild’ was sold at Christies Auction House for $8,9 million.
The Missing Eggs: (1886) The Hen Egg with Sapphire Pendant (1888) The Cherub with Chariot Egg (PPC-USA) (1889) The Nécessaire Egg (PPC-UK) (1896) The Egg with Alexander III Portraits (1897) The Mauve Egg (1902) Empire Nephrite Egg (Alexander III Medallion) (1903) The Royal Danish (Jubilee) Egg (1909) The Alexander III Commemorative Egg.
Lost: 1917-1929 / Estimated Value: $90 – 150,000,000 / Location: Unknown / Russia
Contents: Eight Faberge Golden Eggs
The San Miguel & The Lost 1715 Treasure Fleet
By 1712 AD, Spain was desperately in need of funds due to the War of Succession that had seen Phillip V take the throne. To solve this problem the Spanish assembled one of the richest treasure fleets. Come 1715 it consisted of five ships of the Nueva España (Mexico) fleet and six ships of the Tierra Firme (Mainland) fleet. Significant amounts of silver (plate), gold, pearls, jewels (emeralds) and other precious items were loaded at Vera Cruz, Cartagena, Nombre de Dios and Portobello. A further ship, a French merchantman, the Griffon, also joined the convoy.
As a further defence against pirates and privateers the fleet waited until just before the hurricane season before setting off from Havana. This was a mistake and a storm destroyed the fleet just seven days after leaving Cuba. Thousands of sailors died.
Over the next four years the Spanish salvaged about half of the treasure although pirates hampered their efforts. Items of treasure still occasionally wash up on nearby shores.
Largely due to the efforts of Kip Wagner, a marine treasure hunter, seven of the ships have been located but only a small percentage of the treasure has been recovered. The San Miguel, a Nao class vessel, has yet to be found and is believed to have separated from the fleet the day before the storm struck.
Carracks are lighter than Galleons and were often used to carry treasure as they stood a greater chance of outrunning storms and privateers. The objective, after all, was to get the treasure home. This could mean that the San Miguel is actually one of the richest treasure ships yet to be found.
Lost: 30 July 1715 / Estimated Value: $2 billion / Location: Off the coast of Florida (USA)
Contents: Jewels, gold goblets, silver plate, bullion, coin
Ships of the 1715 Spanish (Plate) Treasure Fleet that have never been found:
Nueva Espana Fleet – General Juan de Ubilla – The Maria Galante – Frigatilla / Frigate / Tierra Firma Fleet – General Antonio de Echeverz – Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion – NAO Class (Carrack) – The (El Senor) San Miguel -NAO Class (Fast Carrack) – El Ciervo (La Franecsa ) Galera Class (Galley)
The Amber Room
The original room was a set of extraordinary wall panels made from purest amber, set in and on gold and mirrors. These panels were installed to create a room that was effectively coated with amber and gold.
It was designed by Andreas Schlüter an architect from Hamburg, Germany and constructed at the Charlottenburg Palace in Prussia, between 1701 and 1709 by the renowned amber specialist Gottfried Wolfram of the Royal Court of Denmark. In 1716 the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm I, gave it to the ruler of the Russian Empire, Tsar Peter the Great, to seal an alliance against Sweden. It was taken first to the original Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and then later moved to the Catherine Palace near the same city where it was expanded by a team of German and Russian craftsmen.
On completion it used 5,440 kg of Amber and was 17 meters in length. Considered to be unique and priceless it was the central showpiece of the palace and famous in aristocratic circles.
In 1941 it was discovered by invading German soldiers and dismantled. Apparently, it was packed into 27 crates and shipped to Königsberg, near the Baltic Coast, where it was put on display. In 1943 it was stored at Königsberg Castle. Officially it was destroyed in an WWII Allied bombing raid, but significant evidence suggests that it was actually shipped out of the city in the latter months of the war and taken to be hidden along with many other treasures acquired by the Nazi regime.
Priceless, it is considered one of the world’s greatest lost treasures. There have been repeated claims in the media by treasure hunters that they have discovered the location of the hidden Amber room. Nevertheless none of them have actually produced the missing panels.
There have been repeated claims in the media by treasure hunters that they have discovered the location of the hidden Amber room. Nevertheless none of them have actually produced the missing panels.
Estimates that the room would be worth $170,000,000 on the open market are considered conservative. A replica of the room made from identical materials has recently completed in Russia. It was opened by Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on the 31st May 2003.
Lost: 1943 / Estimated Value: $170,000,000 / Location: Poland / Germany / Russia / Unknown
Contents: Comprised of Danish amber, gold fittings, gold leaf, ornate mirrors, jewels, and numerous gold and amber fittings and decorations.
Treasuries of the Knights Templar
The Knights Templar were a religious military order formed in 1119 AD to protect Christian pilgrims on their journey to holy lands of the Middle East. They established their headquarters on the side of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and were declared a charity by Pope Innocent II.
Over the decades, donations from patrons made the Knights Templar the wealthiest and most powerful military order in Europe. They invented an early form of banking which made them even richer but unpopular with people who had borrowed money. For nearly two hundred years the Templars amassed a fortune in lands, castles, gold, silver, jewels and precious objects.
By 1291 AD the military prestige of the Knights Templar had failed, and they were forced out of the Middle East. Their popularity fell further urged on by those who owed them money such as Phillip VI the King of France.
On Friday the 13th of October 1307, and with the permission of the Pope, Phillip VI arrested the key leaders of the Order based in France and tortured them into confessions of heresy and devil worship. He seized their lands and raided the treasury but found it much emptier than expected.
Across the rest of Europe the remaining Knights seem to have moved swiftly to hide their portable treasures. A month later Pope Clement II issued the ‘Pastoralis Praeeminentiae’ which instructed heads of state to arrest all Templars and seize their possessions which were to be given to another religious order – the Knights Hospitaller. This was only partially carried out, but it was already too late. The vast treasure of the Knights Templar had largely disappeared and has never been found.
An equally intriguing mystery is what happened to the majority of Knights who were never arrested. At least several thousand men as well as a flotilla of ships simply vanished. In particular, 18 ships that had been berthed at La Rochelle, France, on the night of the 12th of October 1307 set sail under the cover of darkness just before the initial persecutions and passed out of history. Many believe the ships headed for Scotland. A document, the Pergamino de Chinon, found in the Vatican archives in 2002, now shows that Pope Clement II actually absolved the Templars in 1308 AD.
Lost: 1307 / Estimated Value: $ Many Billions / Location: Scotland / Unknown
Contents: Gold and silver ingots, coinage, jewels, jewellery, gold & silver plate, land deeds, religious relics, weapons, documents and records, Middle Eastern trophies and artefacts, valuable curiosities and royal regalia held as securities.
The Oak Island Money Pit
This is probably the most excavated site that has still failed to deliver up its treasure. Oak Island is approximately 140 acres in size and located just off the southeast coast of Nova Scotia. It is one of many small islands in the area and is now linked to the mainland via a narrow causeway.
The story has been embellished and distorted over the years but here are the basic facts. In 1795 Daniel McGinnis (16) and a friend noticed a circular depression as if a pit had been dug and then filled in again. Believing something of value may have been buried there they dug to a depth of 9.1 metres. Initially they discovered a layer of flagstones followed by traces of pickaxes on the rocks. Some stories say they found platforms of logs approximately every 3 metres. They failed to find anything of value, but the story spread and was quickly linked to the missing treasure of Captain Kidd and even the notorious Blackbeard – Edward Thatch (Teach).
Over the following centuries the pit has been excavated many times and prospectors have even included an American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. It has not been an easy task and the pit is claimed to be ‘booby trapped” and has regularly flooded. The most tantalising clue found so far was a code inscription on a flat stone which, when translated, apparently stated: “Forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried.”
The deepest excavations initially reached 72 metres and six people have died trying to find whatever is buried on Oak Island.
In 2014 the History Channel started televising a ‘Reality TV’ documentary entitled: “The Curse of Oak Island” following the work of the Lagina brothers as they continued the excavation of the money Pit. Their work and the TV series is currently ongoing as of 2021. Todate, the treasure still hasn’t been found.
Various theories pertaining to the contents of the Oak Island Money Pit include:
– Captain Kidd’s Treasure – Blackbeard’s Treasure – The Fortress of Louisbourg Treasury – The Missing Jewels of Marie Antoinette – Spanish Gold from a Shipwreck – The Treasure of the Knights Templar – Treasure of the Freemasons – A Storage Pit for Walrus Ivory – Documents of Sir Francis Bacon
Lost: 1500 – 1700AD / Estimated Value: $Unknown but potential huge / Location: Canada
Contents: Unknown (Pirate Hoard / Treasure of the Knights Templar / Spanish Gold)