1) The Fenn Treasure
General Location: Rocky Mountains
In 1988, wealthy art dealer Forrest Fenn was diagnosed with cancer. Not believing that he would survive the disease, he thought it would fun to leave a legacy behind; that of a buried treasure. Fenn survived the disease, but he never forgot his idea. Years later in 2010, he buried a treasure worth $1m–$3m somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. He announced the treasure and published a book filled with clues to finding it. Over the years, he has provided additional clues towards the location of the loot. Treasure hunters have gone to great lengths to try to find the treasure, including digging up the graves of Fenn’s parents and brother. However, it still remains unclaimed.
2) The Oak Island money pit
General Location: Nova Scotia
Off the shores of Nova Scotia is Oak Island, where a treasure hunt has been going on for over 200 years. It started in 1795 when a teenager named Daniel McGinnis claimed to have seen mysterious lights coming from the island. This was during the height of the pirate era, so Daniel and his friends believed that they had seen treasure being buried. Upon investigation, they found a hole that was clearly man-made. So they dug deeper. They ultimately found nothing, but the story became legend, and many believe that they were onto something. Over the years, individuals and even treasure-seeking companies have tried their luck. They have found just enough to fuel their belief in a treasure, including non-native coconut shells and, around 90 feet, a stone with man-made carvings and symbols. Over the years, the millions of dollars and 6 deaths on site have resulted in little else.
3) The Treasure of Lima
General Location: Lima, Peru
The Spanish acquired large amounts of wealth when they toppled the Incan empire, which they accumulated in in Lima over the course of centuries. In 1820, a riot forced them to move it out of the city for fear it would be looted. British Captain William Thompson and his ship, the Mary Dear, were charged with sailing the treasure around until things calmed down. But temptation got the best of him and his crew, and they killed the Spanish guards and made off with the treasure. Unfortunately for them, they were soon caught. The crew was quickly executed, with the exception of Thompson and his first mate, who were kept alive to lead the way to the treasure. They directed the Spanish the Cocos Island, but when they reached shore they ran and escaped into the jungle. The Spanish were never able to find them.
Today, that treasure is valued around $200 million, but no one has any real idea as to where it might be. Instead, there are questions. Did Thompson reclaim it? Did he only lead them to that island with the intention of escaping? Or is it still buried somewhere on Cocos?
4) The Nazi lake of gold
General Location: Lake Toplitz, Austrian Alps
In the last few months of World War II, Nazis sunk containers and various other objects into Lake Toplitz for still not entirely known reasons. Treasure hunters have been working to recover them since. They have managed to pull up several, which contained millions of dollars. However, it was in fake Allied currency. Evidently, the Germans had a plan to try to destroy the Allied economy with an inflation plan called “Operation Bernhard”. Despite this find, people believe the Germans also sunk millions worth of gold, diamonds, and other treasures, so there is no shortage of people interested in continuing the search. However, the lake is dangerous due to sunken logs, and multiple have already lost their lives in the hunt. Officially, diving in the picturesque mountain lake is illegal.
5) La chouette d’or, the golden owl
General Location: French countryside
In 1993, Régis Hauser used the psudonym “Max Valentin” to announce that he had hidden a golden owl in the French countryside. The first person to find it would be rewarded with 1 million francs. He offered 11 clues towards its whereabouts, which he later stated that he had started thinking about in late 70s and ultimately spent 450 hours to create. Hunters have verociously chased down the clues, even burning down a chapel in the pursuit. It was never announced that the owl was found, and Valentin died in 2009. In a 1997 interview, Valentin stated that the owl was still there.
6) Lake Guatavita and the original legend of “El Dorado”
General Location: The Colombian Andes
A legend of Columbia states that thousands of years ago, the leader of the Muisca tribe was said to cover himself in gold dust, float into Lake Guatavita, and toss gold and other treasures into the waters to honor the gods. Turns out this legend is likely true. Gold has been recovered in the lake since the Spanish arrival in 1536, when the lake acquired the name of “El Dorado”, or “The Golden One”. Multiple attempts to drain the lake have taken place, with one attempt killing hundreds of workman. While there isn’t much activity in the area these days, reportedly a long ranger with a shotgun still stands guard of “El Dorado”.