Treasure hunting is one of those things that I’ve always been attracted to in theory but have never made any actual attempts at whatsoever. I’m always like ‘that sounds cool, I’d do that if I was retired and had nothing else to do’ but then when I see this headline about a buried $140 million fortune in New York then I begin to see why someone might put their normal life on pause for a year and go all-in on trying to find buried treasure.
The hidden fortune was once owned by notorious NYC bootlegger Dutch Schulz who used to strongarm speakeasies into buying his booze during prohibition. Anyone foolish enough to refuse his booze was dealt with in horrific ways according to this excerpt in the Post:
Chalk up the gangster’s success to a convincing sales spiel. “He and his partner Joey Noe were extremely brutal,” Nate Hendley, author of “Dutch Schultz: The Brazen Beer Baron of New York,” told The Post. “They would go to speakeasies and threaten to beat the crap out of [proprietors] who didn’t buy their beer. One saloon owner, Joe Rock, foolish enough to refuse, got hung by his thumbs. A rag dipped in a gonorrhea sore was placed over his eyes. It eventually blinded him.”
The missing buried treasure was estimated at $7 million back in the 1930s which would make it worth around $150 million today. PBS is releasing a new documentary, Secrets of the Dead: Gangster’s Gold, which focuses on a group of modern treasure hunters using the latest technology to track down this hidden fortune and they believe they’re on the cusp of finding it thanks in part to a new interview from one of the gang’s enforcers who is still alive at 104-years-old.
Here’s the rundown on this documentary from PBS:
Like many during the Great Depression, Schultz didn’t trust banks to keep his wealth safe. Instead, he kept it hidden in a strong box that he is believed to have buried somewhere in upstate New York. Items believed to be in the strong box include diamonds, gold coins, gold-backed $1,000-dollar bills and uncashed World War I Liberty Bonds, collectively estimated to be worth anywhere between $50 and $150 million dollars today.
On October 23, 1935, Schultz was gunned down at the Palace Chop House in Newark, New Jersey by hitmen Charles “The Bug” Workman and Emmanuel “Mendy” Weiss.
In today’s tech-powered world, Schultz’s fortune lives on as a “holy grail” for treasure hunters around the globe. In Gangster’s Gold, three separate teams set off on unique paths in pursuit of the buried prize: professional treasure hunters Steve Zazulyk and Ryan Fazekas, weekend sleuths Rob Macedonio and Erika Borkenhagen, and father-daughter duo Ross and Grace Getman.
Two key features in this hunt for the treasure are a seemingly ordinary photograph that turned out to be a lot more and a secret tunnel.
The photograph could be key to unraveling this mystery and finding the treasure:
Trojian produced what looks like a fairly innocuous shot of a wooded area alongside Stoney Clove Creek, in Phoenicia, with a car parked nearby. Not one to underestimate a potential lead, Fazekas read into the image.
“People [in the 1930s] didn’t take scenery photos and waste their film,” he said. “And this is not scenic; it had to mean something.”
Intimating in the documentary that it is a shot of the burial spot, snapped for future reference, he added, “My contention is that they transported the heavy steel box and buried it alongside Stoney Clove Creek.”
Alterman said that the picture provides “a link like no other. If we can match up the creek in that picture with a present day location, I will say let’s break out the metal detectors.”
So far the Canadians have only found two 1903 gold coins near the creek. (via NYPost)
Two gold coins are A LOT more than zero gold coins and it could signal that they’re starting in the right place or it could be a ruse to find anyone seeking the buried treasure.
Here’s a look at the bootlegger’s tunnel:
The PBS documentary premieres on Wednesday, November 18th at 10pm. You can tune in then to see how close they are to finding this lost bottlegger’s fortune and hear more stories about how they’d blind people with gonorrhea rags like complete monsters. In the meantime, to read up more on this you can visit the article over on the New York Post.