If you lose a phone or a wallet on your way home, chances are, you can backtrack and have a decent chance of retrieving it. But if you’re a cargo ship, however, you might be screwed. If you lose your cargo, odds are it’ll sink to the dark depths of the ocean, and no one will ever find it again.
There are more than a handful of examples of spoils of war being transported back to the victory’s country and somehow disappearing along the way. Let’s take a look at some of the most expensive cargoes that are probably still somewhere out there.
Jewels of Lima
If it’s jewels, you can probably imagine it will be worth a lot. These lost jewels are valued at about $1 billion and contain pretty much every gem you can think of. It even had a seven-foot statue in solid gold of Mary holding baby Jesus. Naturally, it was adorned with 1684 jewels. And that was just one of the items that were lost. It has a typical pirate’s treasure story attached to it, too: when Argentina threatened Lima, the British sought to leave with all the loot but were sunnk by a Spanish warship, leaving the treasure lost forever.
The Amber Room
Another piece of fine art was lost in the fallout of the war against the Third Reich. This room was originally built by Germans in the 1700s by slapping amber all over it. The Russian Tsar loved it so much that he eventually had it given to him as a gift and added a lot more amber to the room. Hitler wanted it back since the Germans made it, but nobody knows if the room was able to be extracted before the Catherine Palace was bombed. It’s been rebuilt as an $11 million room, but the original was said to be worth about twenty times that much.
Sarcophagus of Menkaure
If it’s not obvious at this point, the British don’t really have a good track record of safely transporting cargo overseas. After this sarcophagus was found, the British assumed it’d look nice in their very own museum instead of leaving it in Malta, where it was found. The ship carrying it caught some bad weather and capsized. The sarcophagus was never found again. If you want to know what the value of this item is, you’d be better off asking an Egyptian historian what value he’d put on a sarcophagus of the pharaoh of the 4th dynasty, who built the third great pyramid of Giza. It’s probably priceless.
Flor De La Mar
A 400-ton, 118-foot-long ship getting sunk is bound to have some goodies on it. It was involved in taking over Malacca and had the very important task of transporting all the loot, only for the ship to mysteriously sink near Sumatra. There are a bunch of rumors about what actually happened, namely the locals stealing the treasure or the captain sinking his own ship to line his pockets with copious amounts of jewelry. We’ll never know, but we do know that whatever was on that ship would be worth about 3 billion dollars today.
The Train of Walbrzych
This is the infamous Nazi gold train. It was rumored to have about 300 tons of gold, jewelry, art, and other expensive things on it, but it never arrived at its destination. In fact, we have no idea where it went missing or if it even existed in the first place. If we assume that it did exist and had 300 tons of gold on it, however, its modern-day value would be just shy of 20 billion dollars.
San Jose Shipwreck
This cargo was considered lost forever but has been found after 280 years of floating on the sea. San Jose was another victim of the Spanish Succession War and was sunk by the British in that time period, carrying 200 tons of valuables. As the treasure was found in 1989, they were able to properly inventorize it and determine a combined value of 19 billion dollars.
This is a more modern story of cargo being lost at sea. This container ship caught fire and sank, holding 3828 luxury cars on it. Think Lamborghini, Audi’s top line, Ferraris, etc. Some analyst firms have done the math, and the estimated loss for the sinking of this ship was calculated at 300 to 400 million dollars.