In 1820, Lima, Peru, was on the edge of revolt. As a preventative measure, the viceroy of Lima decided to transport the city's fabulous wealth to Mexico for safekeeping. The treasures included jeweled stones, candlesticks, and two life-size solid gold statues of Mary holding the baby Jesus. In all, the treasure filled 11 ships and was valued at around $60 million.
Captain William Thompson, commander of the Mary Dear, was put in charge of transporting the riches to Mexico. But the viceroy should have done some research on the man to whom he handed such fabulous wealth because Thompson was a pirate, and a ruthless one at that. Once the ships were well out to sea, he cut the throats of the Peruvian guards and threw their bodies overboard.
Thompson headed for the Cocos Islands, in the Indian Ocean, where he and his men allegedly buried the treasure. They then decided to split up and lay low until the situation had calmed down, at which time they would reconvene to divvy up the spoils.
But the Mary Dear was captured, and the crew went on trial for piracy. All but Thompson and his first mate were hanged. To save their lives, the two agreed to lead the Spanish to the stolen treasure. They took them as far as the Cocos Islands and then managed to escape into the jungle. Thompson, the first mate, and the treasure were never seen again.
Since then more than 300 expeditions have tried -- unsuccessfully -- to locate the treasures of Lima. The most recent theory is that the treasure wasn't buried on the Cocos Islands at all but on an unknown island off the coast of Central America.
On the next page, you will find the Pharaohs' missing treasure.