While there are many ways people dream of getting rich quickly, the classic wish people have had for centuries is that they'll get lucky and discover some pirate's buried treasure. But while that mostly tends to happen in fiction, that's not to say there aren't treasures waiting to be discovered in real life.
The chances of finding them may be remote, and they're obviously in very hard-to-reach places, but since when has that ever deterred people with dollar signs in their eyes? And hey, somebody has to find it, right?
Beale's Gold, Silver, And Jewels
As WFXR reported, the legend of Thomas Beale states that he and a hunting party from Virginia were roaming in what is now Colorado when they found a mine filled with an estimated $100 million worth of gold, silver, and various jewels. Beale apparently brought it back to Virginia and hid it in an underground vault.
Beale then wrote three ciphers, the second of which supposedly revealed the treasure's location. He left them with an innkeeper in Lynchburg, who made them public in 1885 after Beale did not return in his promised 10 years. But while the second cipher has reportedly been solved, the supposed treasure remains undiscovered well over 100 years later.
The Crown Jewels Of England
While England has more than its share of crown jewels today, a collection from all the way back in 1216 supposedly remains missing over 800 years later. As the BBC recounted, King John of England — famous for signing the Magna Carta and for being Prince John in Robin Hood — was apparently fleeing some enemies by crossing the mud of a bay near Lincolnshire called The Wash.
However, rising waters reportedly claimed his baggage wagons and carried them (and the king's jewels) away. Centuries later, treasure hunters believe the jewels are still in the region but have found no sign of them.
The Cursed Treasure Of Cahuenga Pass
In 1864, the French government installed Archduke Maximilian of Austria as Emperor of Mexico, which inspired armed resistance from then-president Benito Juarez. According to The Los Angeles Times, he sent out four trusted agents with $200,000 worth of gold, diamonds, pearls, and other valuables to San Francisco to purchase weapons.
Yet when they arrived in the Bay Area, they spotted French spies and hid the treasure in the San Mateo hills. They didn't know that a shepherd named Diego Moreno saw them bury it and absconded with the treasure to La Nopalera, California, where he reburied it after witnessing his death in a dream. Although that treasure supposedly still lies under Cahuenga Pass, it's also considered cursed because everyone who ever knew its location died violently or suddenly.
The Heirloom Seal Of The Realm
According to China Daily, the Heirloom Seal of the Realm is a 4-inch jade block that was made for the first emperor of China and was passed down through ruling dynasties until its disappearance 1,000 years ago. And that disappearance has been hard to trace because the seal was lost multiple times over the millennia and recovered by farmers multiple times.
However, it was seemingly lost forever by the time of the Ming Dynasty as the founding emperor Zhu Yuanzhang failed to find it even after searching as far as Mongolia. And while some have claimed to find the lost seal in the last 1,000 years, they've only found other imperial seals from the Qing and Ming dynasties.
The Amber Room
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the Amber Room was a glorious room made of several tons of amber and encrusted with jewels. It was a gift to Peter the Great in 1716 to commemorate peace between Russia and Prussia. After some renovations during the 18th Century, historians estimated this "eighth wonder of the world" was likely worth $142 million.
However, the German invasion of Russia during World War II saw occupiers loot tens of thousands of artifacts from the nation, including the Amber Room, which had been disassembled and hidden. It was packed into 27 crates and shipped off to Königsberg's castle museum, but the director (Alfred Rohde) was advised to ship it off again when the tide of the war started turning against Germany in 1943. Since the castle museum was destroyed by Allied forces a year later, no hints as to the Amber Room's location exist today.
The Lost Dutchman Mine
According to Arizona State Parks, the legend has it that the Peralta family of Mexico supposedly discovered rich gold mines near the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, Arizona. However, they weren't able to transport their gold due to an alleged Apache ambush, and the mine went undiscovered for decades.
That stood until 1870 when Jacob "The Dutchman" Waltz (he was actually German) supposedly found it with the help of a Peralta descendent. But while Waltz supposedly revealed the location to his neighbor Julia Thomas on his deathbed, neither she nor anyone else has found the lost (and apparently cursed) mine since.
Treasure Of The Knights Templar
As The Daily Express reported, the Knights Templar were at the height of their power between the 12th and 13th centuries, which means they had holdings of significant value throughout Europe and the Middle East by then. And since they were abruptly disbanded in 1312 and the Knights Templar were known for the gaps in their history, it was hard for treasure hunters not to wonder where their resources went.
And while historian Daniel Jones sees no reason to believe the Knights Templar left any secret treasures behind, some insist that they squirreled the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant away somewhere. In their view, both lost Biblical treasures are still waiting to be discovered.
The Cargo Of San Miguel
According to Amelia Research and Recovery, the San Miguel was part of a fleet of about a dozen ships intending to bring silver, gold, pearls, emeralds, and other jewels back to Spain from throughout the New World. This was to cover monetary losses Spain sustained during the War of Succession, and the fleet thought of departing just before hurricane season to deter rival privateers.
However, this turned out to be a mistake, and a hurricane claimed the entire fleet, as well as the lives of thousands of sailors. But while some of the ships and treasure have since been found, the San Miguel and its estimated $2 billion payload remain missing.
The Sceptre Of Dagobert
According to the University of Pittsburgh's Medieval Art portal, an ornamental gold rod that's considered one of the treasures of Saint-Denis was topped with a model of an eagle carrying a young man. Although this is widely considered the scepter of early French king Dagobert I, other historians suspect it belonged to an ancient Roman consul.
But regardless of who originally owned this scepter, it was stored at the Louvre on December 5, 1793. However, it only stayed there for two years before somebody stole it, and in 200+ years since that heist, the scepter has never been recovered.
Genghis Khan's Tomb
Unlike most of history's most significant leaders, Genghis Khan expressly wished to be buried in a secret location. According to the BBC, his army took this dying wish seriously and even rode 1,000 horses over his burial site to make it indistinguishable from the surrounding area.
To this day, nobody knows where the Mongol leader's tomb rests despite no shortage of expeditions seeking to reveal it and the treasures he was widely suspected to be buried with. Apparently, these failures can be attributed to Mongolia's harsh terrain and the continued unwillingness of locals to violate Genghis Khan's dying wishes.
The Florentine Diamond
As recounted by Jeweller Magazine, the legend of the Florentine Diamond has it that Charles the Bold — Duke of Burgundy — wore it to battle in 1467. However, a foot soldier supposedly snatched it up after he fell and sold it for a trifling sum, not understanding its value.
From there, it apparently changed hands from Pope Julius II to the Medici family to the Hapsburg royal family, who valued the diamond at the equivalent of $750,000 before World War I broke out. And while it was confirmed to be at Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum in 1918, the Florentine Diamond has been missing ever since.
Lost Inca Gold
As National Geographic relayed, the Spanish commander Francisco Pizarro took Incan king Atahualpa prisoner during the 16th Century. Although he initially agreed to release the king in exchange for a roomful of gold, Pizarro inexplicably executed Atahualpa anyway before the largest share of that ransom was delivered.
In response, the Incans buried the rest in a secret mountain cave, and the few who claimed to see it over the years said it would take thousands of men to remove it all. However, it's unclear whether they even found it, as nobody has been able to uncover a trace of the cave since at least 1886.
Old Spanish Treasure Cave
According to KSMU, the Old Spanish Treasure Cave is a place in Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, where a group of Spanish conquistadors stored the spoils they had raided from the native Aztecs and Mayans. The cave was chosen after a winter storm slowed their rampage, but all but one of them were wiped out by a group of Native Americans whose village they had recently burned.
That survivor was confirmed to have drew at least two maps of the cave's location, and it was discovered by a man from Madrid in 1885. Although the cave remains a popular tourist attraction, none of the many treasure hunters who have visited it have uncovered any Spanish gold.
As CNN reported, legends describe a Union wagon train traveling through Pennsylvania carrying 52 bars of gold worth an estimated $54 million in today's money. As the legends suggest, this load went missing near the tiny community of Dents Run in June 1863, with Confederate agents being the most commonly repeated culprit.
One company called Finders Keepers USA has been trying to excavate the area ever since but has been blocked by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources because the area is owned by the state. But while founder Dennis Parada is convinced the missing gold is there, others like historian Jim Burke remain unconvinced that the gold was ever in the area to begin with.
As the Australian Broadcasting Company reported, Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita was rumored to have stolen vast caches of gold from the occupied Philippines during World War II and stashed the loot in tunnels and caves in the nation's north. Although his forces had intended to retrieve the gold after the war, Japan lost, and Yamashita was executed for war crimes in 1946.
However, a man named Rogelio Roxas was able to uncover at least some of this treasure, and his estate is now suing that of Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator during the 1970s who raided Roxas' home and took gold bars, diamonds, and a gold statue of Buddha. While that case progresses, the northern Philippines still see treasure hunters who believe Roxas didn't find all of the gold.
The Romanovs Faberge Eggs
Although Faberge Eggs are recognized today as incredibly valuable works of opulent art, they were created as Easter gifts among the Romanovs — the former royal family of Russia — and some members of their court. According to Town & Country Magazine, nearly 70 of these eggs were made, but they were seized by the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution.
The Russian government sold these off as they faced economic troubles, but after decades of searching and chance auctions by collectors who didn't know what they had, 57 eggs have been recovered. However, up to ten are still out there, and considering the last one — discovered in 2015 — was valued at $33 million, people are as eager as ever to find them.
The Crown Jewels Of Ireland
As the BBC reported, King William IV set aside 394 of England's crown jewels for the lord lieutenant of Ireland in 1831. And while they stayed safe in a bank vault for decades, someone decided to move them to a safe that ended up in Dublin Castle's library. Unfortunately for the British monarchy, the person tasked with watching the jewels had a habit of being careless with the keys to the safe.
So on July 6, 1907, officials opened the safe to discover that all the jewels were gone, along with the personal treasures of the man who was supposed to be watching them. The jewels were worth an estimated $5.5 million, while the personal treasures were valued at $382,000. None of the stolen items were ever recovered.
Captain Kidd's Treasure
Legendary Scottish pirate Captain William Kidd was known to bury portions of his treasure in various locations, but the biggest haul of them is rumored to rest underground on Charles Island near Milford, Connecticut. According to Atlas Obscura, Kidd supposedly cursed the buried treasure, as his visit to the island occurred right before his capture and execution in 1699.
But while the Smithsonian Magazine reported that another cache of Kidd's treasure was found in a shipwreck off the coast of Madagascar, nothing has been found on Charles Island so far.
Leon Trabuco's Gold
According to Unsolved Mysteries, a millionaire from Mexico named Leon Trabuco worked with four other men to buy up his home country's gold reserves to sell them at a premium in the United States. But since the gold couldn't enter the U.S. legally, Trabuco had a pilot named Red Moiser fly 16 tons of gold to a remote area in New Mexico. Once he arrived, Trabucoi had it brought to a secret location that none of his partners could identify.
However, while Trabuco's team had correctly guessed that the Depression would prompt the U.S. Government to enact the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 (thus making their gold $7 million more valuable), they didn't count on the government also making it illegal for private citizens to own gold. Since the treasure trove couldn't be sold, Trabuco buried it and died without revealing its location. Almost a century later, it still hasn't been discovered.
The Treasures Of Vero Beach
TC Palm reported that the area around Vero Beach, Florida, is known as Treasure Coast due to the number of precious artifacts that have washed up there. And the source of many of these lucky finds was a fleet of 11 Spanish ships sunk by a hurricane there in 1715.
Although reports of finding priceless treasures there aren't uncommon, there are still enough undiscovered artifacts in the area to sustain an annual treasure-hunting competition that runs from June to August. To any aspiring hunters out there, be advised that the Florida Department of State keeps up to 20% of each discovery by law.
As recounted by The Tennessee Tribune, Spanish commander Hernán Cortés was infamous for plundering the Aztec Empire, then led by Emperor Montezuma. And while Cortés found himself with a wealth of gold and precious stones, he found that most of it had to be sent directly to the Spanish crown. However, the Aztecs were able to spirit some of the treasure away, which has since been the subject of intense searching.
And while the newspaper reported that both fishermen and excavation crews near Veracruz, Mexico, have uncovered parts of this lost treasure, some legends suggest some remnants of it rest under the ruins of the Palace of Axayácatl (a former emperor).
John S. Mosby's Treasure
In a legend relayed by PBS, Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby and his guerrilla raiding party surprised a group of 40 Union soldiers at the Fairfax Courthouse in Virginia. Although no shots were fired, Mosby's men were able to overcome them, and the colonel walked away with a burlap sack that supposedly contained over $350,000 worth of gold, silver, and jewelry.
He ordered his men to bury the sack, but when he sent them to retrieve it later, they had been captured. Since the legend implied Mosby neither went back for the bag himself nor revealed its location, treasure hunters still believe it's somewhere in Fairfax County.
The Treasure Of Lima
Despite the name, the Treasure of Lima is supposedly at Cocos Island, Costa Rica. According to Forbes, the legend goes that the Spanish Empire was planning to invade Lima, Peru, in 1820. So in preparation, they moved treasures that included gold coins, silver, diamonds, and a solid gold statue of the Virgin Mary out of the area for safekeeping.
However, their trust in Captain William Thompson for this mission turned out to be ill-founded, as his men fatally betrayed the Spanish soldiers and priests aboard before burying the treasure in Cocos Island. And while the crew was captured, Thompson managed to escape. As far as anyone knows, the estimated $1 billion worth of treasure remains undiscovered to this day.
San Saba Mine
During the early-to-mid 18th Century, a mission and fort was established at San Saba, Texas. And as relayed by The Cameron Herald, legend had it that before a group of Lipan Apaches destroyed both of these structures, there was also a silver mine in the area.
The newspaper further reported that French explorer Alexander Dupont claimed to find the silver mines and their riches on February 26, 1789, in a diary entry. But as for why he didn't return with any silver, he said Spanish officials kept him away from it. However, considering that nobody has uncovered the San Saba Silver Mine since and that Dupont was on the cusp of a frightening mental decline when he wrote the entry, it's questionable as to whether he actually found anything.
Dutch Schultz' Catskills Bounty
Born Arthur Flegenheimer, Schultz was an infamous bootlegger and mobster who became the FBI's public enemy number one in 1933. However, his plot to kill prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey led to his fatal shooting by his own associates, and as he lay dying, he blurted to police that he had a cache of money, gold, jewelry, and bonds buried in the Catskills near Phoenicia, New York.
And this may not have been a bluff either, as at least one of his associates was said to have a map of the treasure's location. But whether the person who ended up with the map took everything or the riches still remain uncovered, there has never been any official confirmation of this cache's existence. It was estimated to carry the equivalent of between $50 million and $100 million in today's money, though.
The Treasure Of Little Bighorn
According to KULR8, a man named Captain Marsh was traveling down the Bighorn River in a steamboat called the Far West with a shipment of gold in 1876. However, this voyage happened to take place around the same time as the disastrous Battle of Little Bighorn that famously claimed the life of General George Armstrong Custer.
Since the Far West had been diverted to transport the wounded from this battle, Marsh supposedly buried the gold offshore before taking up this duty. Although it's unclear why Marsh didn't return for the gold, and none of it has been discovered in the century-and-a-half since local legend has it that the gold remains buried along the Bighorn River.
The Royal Casket
Despite the name, this treasure doesn't refer to a coffin but rather a chest full of priceless relics belonging to the Polish Royal Family that Princess Izabela Czartoryska packaged together in 1800. Included among the casket's 73 items were an ivory box owned by King John II and a selection of fine watches worn by other monarchs.
According to Mentalfloss, however, occupying German forces looted The Royal Casket during World War II, and none of the enclosed items have been recovered in the decades since the war ended.
The Wreck Of The Flor De La Mar
According to Malaysia's Muzium Negara, the Portuguese armada captured and looted the city of Malacca in 1511. At the end of it all, the armada had taken enough bronze lions, jewelry, gold-plated palanquins, uncut gems, and Melakan embroidery that they needed the 400-ton ship called Flor De La Mar to transport it all.
However, the riches aboard the gargantuan ship never made it to its destination and instead sank into the ocean near the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The location of the Flor De La Mar wreck and the status of the riches onboard remains a mystery.
The legendary pirate Blackbeard's flagship — the Queen Anne's Revenge — is almost as infamous as the man himself, but it only deepened the mystery of his lost treasure when it was discovered.
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, archaeologists only found a pinch of gold dust aboard, and the ship was determined to be felled by a "nonviolent wreck event." That means Blackbeard's crew had ample time to move his treasures to smaller ships before the Queen Anne's Revenge sank, which also means that this treasure still remains undiscovered.
The Maltese Treasures
Throughout the Napoleonic Wars, the French government faced chronic financial troubles when it came to paying its armies, so these forces plundered precious relics from the lands they conquered. And according to The Times Of Malta, Napoleon's forces did not spare the island nation from this policy and seized the equivalent of $1.3 million in gold, silver, and precious stones.
But while expeditions over the last 40 years uncovered gold coins and other items of value on sunken French warships in the area, survey leader Franck Goddio said these finds did not constitute the lost Maltese treasures.