Even with Google mapping what seems like every square inch of the planet, there are still plenty of undiscovered riches out there. Treasure hunters seem like a thing of the past, but they’re still active, trying to land the big score in some of the world’s most dangerous territories. In this feature, we’ll uncover ten lost treasures that are still out there waiting for the right person to dig them up.
Yamashita’s Treasure, Philippines
Japan’s rapacious invasions during World War II resulted in the looting of many of their Asian neighbors, but when the Allies turned the tide a lot of that money went missing. One of the most famous caches of ill-gotten loot is Yamashita’s treasure. Named for Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita, the story goes that the Japanese army took millions of dollars worth of gold and secreted it in caves and tunnels in the Philippines. After the war ended, the plan was to ship the treasure back to Japan, but that never happened. Treasure hunters believe that the bounty is still at least partially out there, and one claims to have found a portion of it only to have it stolen by dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s army.
The Barber Dimes, Colorado
Coin collectors can tell you that one of the most mysteriously rare coins in American history is the 1907 Barber dime. Even though more than four million of them were minted, just over a dozen currently exist today in good condition. So where did they all go? The legend tells it that a shipment of dimes departed Denver, Colorado that same year for Phoenix, Arizona but never arrived. Treasure hunters believe that the wagon train tipped off the road and into Colorado’s deep, impassable Black Canyon. There were no survivors of the shipment, so nobody knows for sure, but if you could get your hands on those barrels of silver you’re talking a $3,000,000 payday.
The Lost Dutchman Mine, Arizona
In the late 19th century, the race for gold was one of the key economic engines of the United States. But it was hard to protect your claim, so prospectors were notably tight-lipped about their finds. One of the most legendary gold strikes in American history has been abandoned to the ages, but there still may be a chance of finding the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. German immigrant Jacob Waltz purportedly found a rich vein of gold somewhere in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona and profited from it until he died in 1891. Thousands of treasure hunters tried to find the mine in the intervening years, but none could, and one – explorer Adolph Ruth – lost his life in the process.
Lake Toplitz Treasure, Austria
The end of wartime is prime time for looting, and the routed Nazis knew that all too well during the last days of World War II. When a group of Nazi officers fled through the Austrian Alps, they disposed of a large number of mysterious sealed iron boxes into the depths of Lake Toplitz, a mountain lake accessible only on foot in the middle of a densely forested area. Divers have attempted to go after the boxes multiple times, but a layer of sunken logs halfway to the bottom of the lake make accessing them difficult if not impossible. Salvage crews are still going at it, but the treasure continues to elude them.
Lost Fabergé Eggs, Russia
The immense jeweled eggs made by the House of Fabergé for the tsars of Russia between 1885 and 1917 are some of the most incredible feats of craftsmanship the world has ever seen. The 52 “Imperial” eggs each featured precious stones, expensive metals and clockwork engineering. In 1918, after the fall of the Romanovs, the Bolsheviks tore through the House of Fabergé and the tsar’s palaces. All of the eggs were confiscated and shipped to the Kremlin, where many were later sold off. There’s just one catch, though: eight eggs went missing. Each one is valued in the millions, with rumored locations including England, the U.S. and, of course, Russia.
Quin Shi Huang’s Tomb, China
The first Emperor of China who ended the Warring States period and brought the mighty nation together took one fascinating secret to his grave: his grave. The tomb of Quin Shi Huang is one of the most priceless historical relics of all time, but it has never been excavated. Historical records describe a massive underground complex the size of a city, populated with thousands of life-size terracotta statues of soldiers and concubines. A number of those statues have been dug up and exhibited around the world, but the central tomb chamber remains inviolate. One reason is that rivers of incredibly toxic mercury, which could release severe poisons into the soil and groundwater if not handled correctly, reportedly surround the burial area.
Dutch Schultz’s Buried Safe, New York
One of the most iconic mobsters of the 1930s, Jewish-German crime lord Dutch Schultz made millions from bootlegging, running numbers and other unsavory occupations. However, the location of some of those millions went with him to his grave. Hounded by the IRS for tax evasion, Schultz put an estimated $7 million in an iron safe, had a bodyguard drive him up to the Catskills and buried it deep into the ground to be retrieved later. Unfortunately for him, Schultz and the bodyguard were both shot in a New Jersey restaurant soon after. On his deathbed, an infection-addled Schultz babbled streams of nonsense that some interpreted as clues, but the treasure still has not been officially recovered.
Treasures of Lima, Cocos Island
When European sailors hit South America, they immediately set out to plunder as much gold as they could get their hands on. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Vatican amassed a huge storehouse of gold in Lima, Peru. The Peruvian War of Independence forced the occupiers out in 1820, and the booty was put into the hands of Captain William Thompson. The haul, estimated anywhere between $12 and $60 million, included life-sized gold statues of the Virgin Mary and myriad jewels. Thompson and crew went into business for themselves, killed all the Spaniards on board and buried the haul on Cocos Island just off of Costa Rica. Hundreds of fortune-seekers hit the island yearly, but none have been able to unearth Peru’s riches.
The Amber Room, Germany
One of the most famous lost treasures of all time, the Amber Room was a set of 18th century panels made from fossilized tree resin and inlaid with gold and precious gems that was made for Tsar Peter the Great. When Germany stormed Russia during World War II, the room was disassembled and shipped to Konigsberg, East Prussia in crates. Where it went from there is unclear, especially since the Allies started bombing the hell out of Konigsberg in 1944. Numerous theories exists as to the final fate of the Amber Room, which would be worth millions even in pieces, but no sign of it has ever been found except for one mosaic stone in 1997.
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King John’s Crown Jewels, England
One of the more corrupt rulers of England, King John’s spitefulness led to the shrinking of the empire and, indirectly, the signing of the Magna Carta. John was a dude who really enjoyed ostentatious displays of wealth, so his crown jewels were important to him. However, when he was traveling from Lincolnshire to Norfolk in 1216, he sent them by baggage train across the square-mouthed estuary known as the Wash in East Anglia. The crossing was only navigable at low tide, and the horse-drawn wagons didn’t move fast enough to outrun the rising water. John died just over a week later, and his jewels have never been found.