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Robinson Crusoe Island is being searched by Dutch treasure hunter.  Source: JeremyRichards / Adobe Stock

Treasure Hunter Given Go Ahead to Dig for $10 Billion Inca Hoard

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A Dutch treasure hunter has clashed with a Chilean politician over the legendary treasure of Robinson Crusoe Island.

Robinson Crusoe Island is a remote Chilean island and protected as a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve. For this reason, a millionaire Dutch explorer is being petitioned to halt his 20-year long treasure hunt for a legendary treasure cache said to be worth an estimated $10 billion US dollars, in today’s terms.

Bernard Keiser is a Dutch American millionaire based in Chicago, and according to a report in The Telegraph , since 1998 he has been treasure hunting on the remote Chilean island for what is to most, nothing more than a “mythical” lost treasure.

Bernard Keiser has been treasure hunting on the remote Chilean island since 1998. (La Tercera)

Bernard Keiser has been treasure hunting on the remote Chilean island since 1998. (La Tercera )

Far Left Uprising

Because Robinson Crusoe Island is protected, the team of intrepid treasure hunters have been restricted to using manual tools such as shovels, brushes, and knives and they have been denied permission to blast and to use heavy excavation equipment.

At least that is how things were until September 2, when Chilean authorities approved Mr. Keiser’s request to use diggers on the island, sparking a wave of discontent which caused Diego Ibanez, a member of Chile’s far-left Convergencia Social, to write to his country’s inspector general demanding he puts a halt to the treasure dig .

Diego Ibanez didn’t mince his words when speaking with The Telegraph : “What they are doing is illegal.” And a while conspiracy theorists will no doubt say the government are trying to keep the treasure for themselves, 800 people and hundreds of endemic species of flora reside on this far flung tropical island and the removal of ground and even leaves, peat, and sand has been forbidden for many years.

1753 map of Isla Más a Tierra (known today as Robinson Crusoe), the largest of the three islands that constitute the Juan Fernández group. When explorers’ narratives mention stops at Juan Fernández, they usually are referring to this island. (Public Domain)

1753 map of Isla Más a Tierra (known today as Robinson Crusoe), the largest of the three islands that constitute the Juan Fernández group. When explorers’ narratives mention stops at Juan Fernández, they usually are referring to this island. ( Public Domain )

The Treasure Hunter’s “Religious Obsession” to Find the Hoard

Robinson Crusoe Island is situated some 400 miles (643.74 km) off the Chilean coast and is so named after the Scottish explorer Alexander Selkirk was marooned there in the 18th century. His story inspired Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe .

Legends claim the Treasure of Lima, stolen from the Incas during the Spanish conquest of Peru, was buried on the island in 1715 and that an English pirate, Cornelius Webb, later found and reburied the hoard somewhere else on the same island.

By some estimates the haul would include 800 barrels of gold ingots, silver pieces, gems, and other riches worth up to $10 billion; so it is no wonder that Mr. Keiser has dedicated his life to finding the stash since 1998. His enemy, Mr. Ibanez, said “Finding this treasure is an almost religious obsession for him [Bernard Keiser]“ but urges the treasure hunter to “respect the law” regarding this protected island.

Example of an ancient Inca golden figurine of a man. (Public Domain)

Example of an ancient Inca golden figurine of a man. ( Public Domain )

However, Chile’s CONAF forestry commission said this week that Mr. Keiser's request to excavate an area of 65 feet by 65 feet (roughly 20 by 20 meters) is within Chilean environmental law, and Chile's heritage minister, Felipe Ward, said in an interview with CNN Chile this week that he “backed CONAF's decision” and that it makes sense to be able to “rebut or confirm” the existence of these historical remains [$10 billion of treasure]. Of course, Mr. Ibanez disagreed.

Is Keiser on to Something Big?

Don’t for a second think that this is a new conflict for Mr. Ibanez because when it’s not Dutch billionaires trying to get at the treasure it’s his own countrymen. In 2005 he was fighting against the work of a “robotic treasure hunter” which a report in New Scientist called Arturo or “Little Arthur”.

This high tech robot was deployed to find the 18th-century buried treasure on Robinson Crusoe Island by Chilean company Wagner Technologies and the company announced that they had actually “found the booty”  49.21 ft. (15 meters) below ground and were going to try and obtain digging permits.

Excavations have been happening on the island for over a decade now. (La Tercera)

Excavations have been happening on the island for over a decade now. ( La Tercera )

Now, with the Chilean government behind him and adhering to laws laid out by the National Monuments Law of Chile, if Keiser the millionaire Dutch explorer does indeed uncover this maybe not-so mythical treasure, he pockets 25% while the bulk of 75% will go to the Council of Monuments of Chile.

And what everyone must be excited about, well I certainly am, is that after a lifetime of searching the treasure hunter wants to excavate a tiny 65 square feet area. This is no Oak Island folks, he must know “something” is under there. How he sleeps I will never know.

Top Image: Robinson Crusoe Island is being searched by Dutch treasure hunter.  Source: JeremyRichards / Adobe Stock

By Ashley Cowie

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