• True Stories

Hidden Treasure That Might Still Be Out There

Buried treasure. Lost gold. Hidden cash. Loot. Few things fire the imagination like the idea of a vast hoard of gems, precious metal, art, or cold hard cash being just a few shovelfuls of dirt away from being found. Maybe you dream of going on a treasure hunt or finding that treasure chest you've heard about. These real-life stories of lost treasure and treasure hunting seem to offer lots of options for the gold fiend in you - but what's the real scoop, and should you even attempt to find these sparkly objects?

There are as many stories of hidden stores of loot as you've got time to hear them. Pirate caches, plunder, sunken treasure, ill-gotten diamonds, famous mob scores, ancient gold, lost mines - chances are, there's a rumor of hidden treasure close to wherever you live. But how many of the famous buried treasures from throughout history are actually real, and not legendary? How many are really still out there, and haven't been taken by the ravages of time or water? Is it possible to get at the ones that are?

Here are some of the most legendary treasures that might still be out there, waiting to be found. They're all over the world, on land or under the sea, and carry their own treasure chest of stories and legends with them.

PLEASE NOTE: We do not advise that you attempt to retrieve any of these hidden treasures. They might not be there, and you could easily come to harm. Lots of people already have.

  • The Wreck Of The Galleon San Jose

    Destroyed in battle against a British fleet in 1708, the Spanish galleon San Jose was the flagship of a treasure fleet comprising 17 vessels. As such, it was said to have carried what today would be over a billion dollars in gold, silver, emeralds, and priceless jewelry. The wreck was known as the holy grail of shipwrecks, and all anyone knew was that it had been sunk off the coast of Colombia.

    In 1982, after centuries of fruitless searching, a company called Sea Search Armada claimed to have found the wreck of the San Jose. A three-decade legal entanglement began, with the company and the Colombian government wrangling over who got the biggest share of the find. All the while, the government had been unable to corroborate the company's evidence that they'd found the wreck at all. Finally, in late 2015, Colombia's president announced that the wreck had been located, but the coordinates were being kept a state secret. Any split of the treasure won't happen until it's recovered - assuming it actually is.

  • Forrest Fenn's Hidden Gold

    Photo: Unknown / Max Pixel / Public Domain

    Eccentric art dealer Forrest Fenn made international headlines when he announced he had been diagnosed with cancer, and was hiding a horde of $3 million in gold, jewels, and coins somewhere in the Rocky Mountains - and that he’d leave clues to its location until his passing. Fenn has thrown out clues to the chest’s location since 2010, mostly in the form of poems.

    Numerous treasure hunters have tried to find the chest in the wilds of New Mexico, with several having claimed to know where it is, and others getting arrested in the process. But as of now, the chest (assuming it exists) is still out there, waiting to be found.

  • The Lufthansa Heist

    Immortalized (though not actually shown) in the gangster classic Goodfellas, the Lufthansa heist was the largest robbery ever committed in the United States, with Jimmy Burke and the Vario crew making off with $6 million in cash and close to a million in jewels from John F. Kennedy Airport. And just like in the movie, Burke (named Conway in the film and played by Robert De Niro) began offing everyone involved with the heist to keep from being caught - and to keep the money.

    Burke himself was apprehended in the early 1990s, and went to his grave without ever divulging the location of the money or the jewels. The first arrests in the robbery weren’t made until 2014, and while a little of the cash was eventually recovered, the jewels are still out there, probably in some forgotten safe deposit box.

  • The Cahuenga Pass Treasure

    Photo: LA Water and Power / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The intersection of Cahuenga Boulevard and Highland Avenue is one of the busiest in Hollywood. But it also might be the location of a huge stash of gold. Back in 1864, three Mexican agents came north with $200,000 in gold, silver, and jewelry to buy guns to arm the fledging Juarez government. They buried the valuables in the hills of San Mateo, where, as legend has it, shepherd Diego Moreno saw them. After they left, Moreno dug up the loot and fled to the pueblo of Los Angeles. He stopped at a tavern near the Cahuenga Pass and supposedly buried his stolen treasure in six different holes under an ash tree. Then Moreno supposedly told his friend Jesus Martinez about the fortune, as repayment for helping him recover from an illness.

    After Moreno passed, Martinez went treasure hunting and promptly perished when he found the first can. Supposedly, Martinez was the first in a number of deaths and misfortunes attributed to the “cursed” Cauhenga Pass treasure.