$17 billion is sitting at the bottom of the ocean and no one can agree who owns it

Today I was asked the following question:

If you couldn’t touch it for the next 20 years, would you rather be given £100,000 in Bitcoin or in gold?

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll probably know that I am a huge advocate of crypto, and have no qualms about investing my own money into it.

However, I do that with the knowledge that I am only investing very small amounts – money I am happy to lose if it doesn’t pan out.

If I was putting in £100,000 I would definitely think about it differently. That’s far more money than I’ve ever had at my disposal.

Still, right now if it was a choice between £100,000 in Bitcoin or £100,000 in gold, I’d put it into Bitcoin – safe in the knowledge that I could take it back out anytime I wanted to.

Even if I wasn’t allowed to touch it for a year, I’d still choose Bitcoin. But over the longer term, I said I would definitely choose gold.

Although I believe that crypto has a bright future, I’m not so sure that Bitcoin itself will still be around in 20 years. Gold, on the other hand, well that’s not going anywhere.

This was kind of a strange revelation to me. Personally, I’d never really considered gold as an investment before.

But if I had a lot of wealth to preserve, especially for the long term, I would definitely put a good deal of it into gold.

And it seems that many of you wound tend to agree. As I said yesterday, we’ve had a huge response over the past week to Eoin Treacy’s gold investor’s master plan.

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That’s a bitcoin-like return from investing in gold.

And the best part is, you can get it delivered to your door for just £3.50. That’s less than a glass of wine.

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Now as I said, that question got me thinking about gold as a truly long term investment. If you wanted to preserve your wealth for the really long term, there can’t be many better ways to do it.

And just to underscore that point, I thought I’d do some research into the world’s lost gold.

Back in 2012, Popular Mechanics published an article estimating that there was around $60 billion worth of treasure lost at sea:

The short answer, Sean Fisher says, is $60 billion. Fisher is a shipwreck hunter at Mel Fisher’s Treasures in Key West (Sean is Mel’s grandson), and he gives this figure based on his company’s historical research.

But a few years later that $60 billion figure was proved to be wildly low.

In 2016 an autonomous robot uncovered $17 billion in sunken treasure

Last year news emerged that a research robot called the REMUS 6,000 had uncovered one of the biggest hauls of treasure on record.

The treasure, estimated at a staggering $17 billion went down with a Spanish ship called the San Jose in 1708.

That treasure is mostly precious metals. And 300 years on, it’s still worth an astronomical amount of money – pretty much the same amount as when it was lost.

That’s a pretty good argument for the wealth preservation power of gold and other precious metals.

But there is also something else interesting about this monumental find. It was discovered by an autonomous submarine drone.

ZDnet notes that just as flying drones have become cheap and accessible to almost everyone, submersible drones now “allow researchers with relatively paltry budgets access to places humans have never peered.”

So while searching for sunken treasure was solely for those with multi-million dollar budgets, we could soon see a new wave of amateur treasure hunters taking to the seas.

However, those amateur treasure hunters could run up against some big hurdles if they do actually uncover any large hauls.

And the San Jose find is a good example of that. That $17 billion is still lying on the sea bed. Not because it can’t be recovered, but because no one knows who really owns it.

From The Economist:

There is little agreement over who owns the San José.

After five months of exploration the ship was located on November 27th 2015 by a team including the Colombian navy; Maritime Archaeology Consultants (MAC), a British firm; and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which provided an unmanned submarine.

Colombia’s government says the Submerged Cultural Heritage Law, passed in 2013, dictates that the wreck and its treasure belong to the state. Others dispute that.

Spain’s government says UNESCO’s convention on underwater cultural heritage gives it rights to the ship.

Sea Search Armada, an American exploration firm, claims it discovered the San José in 1981 and gave its location to the Colombian government. It believes it is due half the ship’s treasure. The government says the galleon was found in a different spot, although the exact co-ordinates are a state secret.

What would you choose over a 20 year timeframe, gold or Bitcoin?

The story of the San Jose also illustrates another point.

If you had to make a guess at which asset around today will still be just as valuable 300 years from now, in 2319, what could you possibly choose other than gold?

Actually I would be interested to hear your take on the Bitcoin vs gold question. Over a 20+ year timeline, would you prefer to hold bitcoin or gold? Let me know: harry@southbankresearch.com.

And if you want to find out how to invest in gold for yourself, and get all the gold investment secrets $600 million money manager Eoin Treacy has to offer, for just £3.50 click here now.
Until next time,

Harry Hamburg
Editor, Exponential Investor

Category: Cryptocurrency

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