According to the Santiago Times, American millionaire Bernard Keiser plans to search Chile’s Robinson Crusoe Island for the fifth time. Robinson Crusoe Island, or Juan Fernandez Islands, located 2,000 kilometers West of Chile, is the location of the true story of Scottish sailor, Alexander Selkirk and his man Friday who were marooned on the island in 1704, for four years and four months. Selkirk’s story was immortalized in Daniel Dafoe’s classic ‘Robinson Crusoe’.
According to legend, the treasure originated in the Incan Empire and was stolen during the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 16th and 17th centuries. When the treasure was en route to Spain around 1715, the navigator in charge of the ship landed on Robinson Crusoe Island and buried his cargo. Before he could return to unearth the booty, an English pirate, Cornelius Webb uncovered the Incan treasure and reburied it in another location on the island. The legendary stash is reported to contain 800 barrels of gold, including priceless historical artifacts of gold and jewelry.
Keiser has been on a 12-year quest, for the location of stolen Incan gold and jewels estimated to be worth $10 billion. Keiser is a history and political science graduate from the University of Jacksonville, who made his fortune supplying NASA with material for their space suits. To date his treasure-seeking has cost him an estimated $2 million and he is reportedly in the process of shelling out another $100,000 for yet another crack at finding the legendary treasure, this time with highly sophisticated mining video and other technologies.
But Keiser’s expenses would be well covered should he find the treasure: Chilean law provides for 25% of the recovered materials to go to the discoverer. Keiser estimates the treasure’s value at $10 billion.
In 2005, the U.K.’s Guardian reported that the treasure had been found.
A long quest for booty from the Spanish colonial era appears to be culminating in Chile with the announcement by a group of adventurers that they have found an estimated 600 barrels of gold coins and Incan jewels on the remote Pacific island. “The biggest treasure in history has been located,” said Fernando Uribe-Etxeverria, a lawyer for Wagner, the Chilean company leading the search. Mr Uribe-Etxeverria estimated the value of the buried treasure at $10 billion. The announcement set off ownership claims. The treasure hunters claimed half the loot was theirs and said they would donate it to non-profit organizations. The Chilean government said that they had no share to donate.
Then later that same year, Wagner ‘renounced it’s claim’ to the treasure.
According to Uribe-Etxeverría, the company does not believe they are capable of excavating the treasure. This abrupt turn of events surprised government officials who were prepared to discuss excavation permits and plans to partition the treasure with the company. Wagner instead agreed to turn over the coordinates to the government on the condition that if the treasure is excavated, a portion would be given to a number of Chilean charities, as well as the island’s residents.
Uribe-Etxeverría’s announcement also surprised journalists because of the commotion the company generated with threats to withhold the location of the treasure unless the government agreed to give them a cut of the loot.
Wagner still maintains that “Arturito,” a mobile robot designed by one of their engineers, detected the presence of 800 metric tons of gold and jewels on the west side of the island in southern Chile. Wagner claims that the treasure is located in a very difficult-to-reach spot that would require divers to enter through underwater caves on the island’s coast. Wagner representatives said the company is withdrawing from the controversy that surrounded their claims because of the difficulty involved in recovering the treasure.
“There is no company in the country capable of excavating this treasure,” said Uribe-Etxeverría. He also added that for Wagner, the treasure did not represent a business opportunity. Rather, the company’s exploration was meant to publicize the extraordinary capabilities of their robot, Arturito.