The famous Treasure of Lima is one tainted with betrayal, blood, and piracy. It’s a sad, albeit exciting lesson in really vetting the people you put in charge of your gold.
During the early 1800s, Spain was gradually losing control of its South American colonies to revolutionaries. This even included the great city of Lima, Peru. The Catholic Church there was powerful and had amassed many treasures and valuables, including two solid gold life-size statues of the Virgin Mary, as well as many jeweled artifacts.
However, by 1820, Lima was no longer safe from war. Desperate to preserve the treasures, the viceroy of the city opted to ship them to Mexico for safekeeping. He hired the crew of Captain William Thompson and his ship – the Mary Dear – to give the clergy and their treasures safe passage to Mexico. Things were initially fine, but Captain Thompson and his crew could not resist the allure of the treasure they were charged with protecting. They murdered all the priests and passengers on board and sailed off with the treasure.
Now that they were all pirates and wanted men, the crew of the Mary Dear knew they couldn’t get away with the treasure so easily. So, they buried it all on Cocos Island until they were sure they could spend it safely. But, shortly after the treasure was buried, the Mary Dear was captured and tried for piracy. The entire crew was hanged – with exception of Captain Thompson and his first mate, on the condition that they reveal the location of the treasure. However, when taken to Cocos Island, both of them managed to escape into the jungles. They were never seen again and the Treasure of Lima was never recovered.
At today’s gold values, the Treasure of Lima would likely be worth more than $60 million. To this day, treasure hunters flock to Cocos Island with hopes of discovering the gold statues and other treasures. As you may guess from the title of the this post, no one has been successful after almost 200 years of searching – which has lead many to speculate that Captain Thompson’s story about the Cocos Island was but a ruse and the treasure was really buried on another island.