Here’s the deal:
Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. So says Michael Douglas in that oft-quoted deconstruction/glamorization of ‘80s culture, Wall Street. This is why treasure, be it lost or buried, is an appealing concept for most folks.
And yet, I would argue that greed alone does not generate the excitement. Quite often, the story at the center is much more appealing than the riches themselves, if only for the fact that most people who learn about famous booty are never going to share in the eventual spoils. Lousy Democrats.
The Amber Room is such a treasure. It was constructed in the early 1700’s for the Prussian monarchy, crafted out of glass, gold, and fittingly enough, amber. As you can see from the picture above, the room was awe-inspiring, capturing beauty, elegance and opulence in one golden package. The room remained in Prussia until 1716, at which time King Friedrich Wilhelm I bestowed it upon his friend and ally Tsar Peter the Great of the Russian Empire, taking it apart piece by piece and transporting it to its new location. Pretty nice present, if you ask me.
Mother Russia kept the room for over two centuries until those blasted Nazis decided to take over the world. In a raid, the Nazis gained control of the palace housing the treasure and thus, the room itself. The Russians tried to disguise the room before the Nazis arrived with the cunning use of wallpaper but their brilliant strategy did not succeed. The Nazis then removed the room in sections and skipped off for tea with the Fuhrer.
Here’s where the plot thickens.
Nobody knows what happened to the room following its removal from Russia. It’s possible that it was destroyed in the course of battle, or may have met a watery grave on a soon-to-be sunken German submarine, or it could have wound up in one of Hitler’s underground sugar caves, looked after by giant ants paid off with Nazi gold. Nobody knows…
Since that time, amateur and “professional” treasure hunters have scouted expeditions to discover the location or resting place of the room. Potential riches abound if the room is actually discovered, but the story – that one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture ever constructed was lost due to the actions of some of the most vile human beings to ever live – is what is key here.
I wouldn’t hold out hope for the room’s discovery, yet I implore all of you to check your attics. Grandpa Fritz may well have been lying when he said he spent the war years in Switzerland.
But seriously, someone needs to find this thing so we can get to all the dinosaurs inside.