When I was a human child I dreamed of finding a lost treasure that would make me rich beyond my wildest dreams. Well it turns out doing such a thing is possible. There are dozens of lost treasures from history – some recently lost, others lost centuries ago. Either way, find any of these treasures and you will be set for life.
Japanese legend tells of a sword only certain people were allowed to see it. It legitimized an emperor’s rule. Whoever wielded the sword could declare themselves emperor of Japan. And so the sword was kept under close control by the Japanese imperial family. However it’s unclear where the sword is today. According to one version of the legend it was taken from the imperial palace as some believe it was cursed. So the sword was taken to a temple and guarded by high ranking Shinto priests.
Still today the priests claim to have the sword. But they refuse to show it to anyone so most don’t believe they actually have it. Another version of the legend tells it was lost at sea during a 12th century battle. According to it, every ruler of Japan since has simply lied about owning it to legitimize their power. If this is true, the sword must remain somewhere at the bottom of the ocean – as one of the many lost treasures of Japan.
9: The Kruger Millions
In the late 19th century war broke out in South-Africa. It was between the British Empire and two small republics populated by an ethnic group called the Boers. The Boers were an ethnic group descended from Dutch settlers in Africa. Britain wanted to absorb the republics into her empire, but under a man called Paul Kruger the Boers resisted. It took two separate wars for the British to defeat them absolutely. The British wanted their territory for obvious reasons – gold and diamonds could be found there in great abundance. The Boers had already discovered huge amounts of both.
According to legend, Boer leader Paul Kruger hid great wealth at the end of the wars to stop the British from finding it. It’s said he buried millions of dollars in gold and diamonds somewhere in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province. Today it could be worth up to half a billion dollars, making it one of the most sought after lost treasures. In 1905 a man claimed Kruger paid him to bury the treasure. But before revealing it’s location he mysteriously disappeared. He was probably just a crazy lying silly man. Yet many have since gone looking for the treasure.
8: King John’s Crown Jewels
In 1216 the king of England lost his crown jewels in the wash. That might sound like some kind of mad euphemism but really I’m referring to some of England’s greatest lost treasures. The wash is a swampy bay on the east coast of England. In October 1216 King John was travelling England with a large army to suppress the rebellion against him. Given the size of his army he thought the crown jewels and a massive hoard of gold would be most secure travelling with them.
They decided to cross over the wash as a shortcut, as the king was ill. He and his guards swiftly rode across the wash on horseback, while the carts containing the jewels were forced to travel more slowly. But weighed down by massive wealth, the carts sank into the swampy marshland and were never seen again, becoming lost treasures instantly. And so the crown jewels remain lost today somewhere in the wash.
7: The Last Judges Altarpiece Panel
The Ghent Alterpiece is a massive work of art in Belgium. It’s made up of 12 individual panels which together are considered one of the world’s greatest treasures – or in the case of one panel, the world’s greatest lost treasures. You see, one of the panels was stolen in 1934 and hasn’t been seen since. One night it disappeared and a note left in it’s place. The note read “taken from Germany by the treaty of Versaille”. It was a reference to the painting being taken from Germany at the end of world war one and relocated to Belgium.
The Bishop of Ghent soon received a letter demanding one million franks for the panel. This was refused but began a dialogue between the thief and Belgian government. After months of correspondence the thief returned half of the panel, but remained anonymous. Then, on his deathbed, a man admitted to being the thief. But he would not reveal the location of the second half of the panel. Since his death no sign of it has been found.
6: Fenn Treasure
Forrest Fenn is a wealthy American art dealer who sounds like a fictional character. He was a pilot turned archaeologist traveler who made a fortune selling art and famously buried a treasure chest. A while ago he announced that he had buried a bronze chest somewhere in the rocky mountains that contained over a million dollars worth of gold. He published a poem containing nine clues that will lead to the treasure’s location. You can google the poem or find a recital in our video accompanying this article.
5: Fabergé Eggs
When Russia was ruled as a monarchy the royal family had a series of decorative eggs created. Each egg was different and contained some kind of surprise inside. In their day the eggs were incredibly valuable and surviving eggs are now considered priceless treasures. They came to be known as Fabergé eggs, named after the noble family who created them, the house of Fabergé.
They created 50 eggs for the imperial family, but during the revolution the Tsar’s treasures were looted and fought over. 43 of the eggs are known to have survived the chaos and are now carefully looked after. But seven are either destroyed or remain out there as lost treasures – but we just don’t know if they exist still. But anyone who find a lost Faberge egg will instantly become wealthy. It’s known that Joseph Stalin located one and sold it to an English jewelry dealer, but it’s location is not known.
4: Irish Crown Jewels
In 1907 the Irish crown jewels were stolen from Dublin castle. They were Ireland’s most important gems, locked away and under constant guard by security and police. So it was a shock to Dublin castle employees one morning to find the crown jewels missing – as if they had vanished in the night. There was no sign of who had taken them and the investigation into it proved pointless. Over a century later, no one knows what happened to the crown jewels. One theory is that they were taken by police officers guarding them and were then sold on the black market. An investigator was brought in from Scotland Yard. Rumour has it he identified the thief but his report was suppressed by local police to protect their involvement.
3: Beale Papers Treasure
In 1885 a mysterious story was published in a pamphlet. It tells the story of Thomas Beale, an adventurer who discovered a wealth of gold in the old west. He reburied the treasure for safe keeping, intending to recover it at a later date. He buried two wagons of treasure in Virginia that would today be worth 43 million dollars. But Beale would never return for the treasure. He gave a box full of ciphers to an inn keeper and then disappeared. Just one of the cipher texts in the box have been cracked. It tells that the treasure is somewhere in Virginia’s Bedford county.
Many have headed to the area to dig for the treasure, but none have found it. The box contained two other cipher texts, which were published. Yet they still have not been deciphered. No one knows for sure but it’s thought cracking them will reveal the specific location of the treasure. Although, I should say, there isn’t much evidence Thomas Beale even existed. So the people who have dedicated their lives to finding his treasure… well… might have wasted their lives.
2: Esperanza treasure
Palmyra Atoll is a very remote pacific island. Many ships have been wrecked on the coral reefs surrounding her over the centuries. In 1816 a sailor called James Hines died in hospital. Before he died he wrote about his exploits as a pirate. He wrote that this crew attacked a large Spanish ship earlier that year, and stole a massive wealth of gold. But the next month they were wrecked on Palmyra Atoll, where they buried the treasure for protection. They soon repaired the ship and all but ten of them set sail again. Ten remained as the ship was too damaged for them also.
For several months they lived on the island – feeding on what fruit they could find. Eventually a passing ship spotted them and took the wrecked pirates to America. James Hines was among them. But he was immediately taken to hospital where he wrote about the event before dying. If he was telling the truth, there must still be a wealth of gold buried on Palmyra Atoll. Coincidentally, with the many other ship wrecks, other legends also tell of wealth buried on the Atoll. So it might be the case that the area is home to numerous lost treasures.
1: Yamashita’s gold
In world war two, Imperial Japan stormed through South-East Asia: conquering the Philippines, Indochina, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. With all this new territory they could do whatever they wanted… and did. I’m not going to list all the bad things they did because none of us have time for that. But many Japanese took as much war loot as possible from captured territory. In fact the Japanese government had a secret policy of using war loot to fund further military campaigns. General Yamashita was given command of Japanese forces in the Philippines in 1944.
Under his leadership, a vast amount of treasures were looted from banks, museums and private collections. But no one today knows what happened to that loot. They are lost treasures possibly buried in one single location or spread across the Philippines. Legend tells that Yamashita ordered the loot be hidden within an underground complex to stop the allies from reclaiming it. As he and his associates were executed after the war, no survivors knew where the loot was hidden. And so, even today, the treasure remains hidden somewhere in the Philippines.