The Greatest Treasure Ever Lost.
For ninety two years, the world's greatest treasure, exceeding that of Mel Fisher's Atocha, Tommy Thompson's SS Central America, Keith Jessop's HMS Edinburgh, and every other treasure found to date, perhaps the greatest treasure ever lost - likely exceeding one billion dollars - lay rumored to exist in the deep twilight of the shark-infested depths of the frigid North Atlantic, entombed in the once proud and palatial passenger liner, the White Star Liner RMS Republic. As this magnificent liner settled to her watery grave on January 24th, 1909, the rumor circulated that a vast yet intriguingly specific treasure was lost with the ship.
The rumor not only survived but has become the greatest legend in lost-treasure lore. For 75 years, the treasure aboard the Republic was thought to be a relief shipment bound to Naples that was the staging area for relief efforts organized for the 200,000 survivors of the deadliest earthquake in European history, an earthquake that had devastated southern Italy a month earlier and claimed 100,000 lives. Others thought the treasure were funds destined to Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Battleship Fleet, laid over at Gibraltar and poised to depart homeward to Hampton Roads, Virginia on the final leg of the fleet's historic round-the-world cruise. What about the personal effects of the Republic's passengers? The Mellons of Pittsburgh, the jewels of an Indian prince, an Italian Count and Countess, bankers, politicians, and other passengers were part of the turn of the century's wealthy elite. Along with these treasures, the intriguingly specific rumor that the Republic carried a $3,000,000 (1909 value) five-ton shipment of newly minted American Gold Eagle coins persisted.
Like the fog that caused her demise, a mysterious and near-impenetrable shroud soon enveloped the circumstances of the Republic's sinking. Although she was the largest and most luxurious vessel (and thought to be practically unsinkable) lost to her day, the legally prescribed British Board of Trade investigation was never held despite: the vessel's loss; the loss of six lives; and safety issues made public by the newspapers at the time concerning the inadequacy of bulkhead construction, the potential weaknesses of wireless telegraphy for emergency messages at sea, and the insufficient number of lifeboats for all of the Republic's passengers. These unanswered questions directly contributed to the loss of 1,500 lives aboard White Star Line's Titanic just three short years later.
The Republic's location was concealed -- her actual resting place is six miles away from where the governments of the United States and Britain have officially charted her location. She would be impossible to find, that is, until the advent of modern technologies.
All information regarding her cargo, her construction, and documentation relating to a single identified financial transaction, has never reached public access. Official denials were released at the time by those in the know. "No such gold was shipped aboard the Republic." "The only gold to leave New York was shipped last week on the White Star Liner Oceanic, which arrived just in time to do service in yesterday's Russian Loan financing." But was it the agenda of these pronouncements to steady the financial market and squelch public scrutiny?
The 1912 loss of the Titanic eclipsed the Republic's loss and shifted the public's attention to a more catastrophic tragedy, more catastrophic in terms of loss-of-life as opposed to financial loss. The safety questions could now be addressed. The Republic's loss conveniently faded from public memory. Information concerning the Republic and her cargos within the public record had been altered, erased or would never be released.
The legend, however, persisted. Did longshoremen in recounting their days working the docks remember loading the 75 boxes of "special" cargo? Irresistible stories of the legendary cargo left an indelible mark on the dreams of would-be treasure hunters as well as the denizens of the New York waterfront.
Twenty five years ago, Martin Bayerle began what was to become, unbeknownst to him at that time, a lifetime's journey to unravel the mystery and locate the ship, unearth the facts surrounding her loss and the legend of five tons of newly minted American gold eagle coins. That journey is now concluding. The adventure's denouement - the exposure of the secret, its motivation, the involvement of four governments and eight of the largest financial institutions in the world, and New York waterfront, are at hand. A well kept secret that thwarted a legally required investigation, contributed to the Titanic disaster and which has been held securely for ninety-two years at the highest levels of power, is about to be revealed - the Third TheoryTM, the Tsar's Gold.
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The Republic, Clinton Scollard,
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