Hollywood Gold Infographic: Gold in the movies – who got the biggest haul?
When it comes to fictitious piles of the yellow metal, you can’t beat Hollywood Gold stories and films, involving huge stacks of bars and roomfuls of coins!
In the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger, Bond comes up against a villain obsessed with gold. With Bond never going out of fashion – and Physical Gold’s obvious interest in all things gold – we decided to do some research. Just how much gold did Auric Goldfinger try to get away with and was his heist set to be the largest return ever seen on screen?
Armed with the essentials of a comfortable chair, a big TV and a Vodka Martini (shaken, not stirred), we set out to investigate the silver screen’s biggest Hollywood gold heists. Just exactly how much has gold starred in popular films over the years and how does fiction compare to the facts?
The popular gold trivia question “How much gold is in Fort Knox?” is answered by James Bond in the film Goldfinger, where the figure was 15 billion dollars. Those who know the film remember that the villain’s plan is to blow up and destroy the gold, thus increasing the worth of his own personal gold holding. Needless to say, our hero Bond, in the finale, dramatically foils him. Perhaps Goldfinger should have waited as a 2016 count estimated the value of Fort Knox’ gold at $180 billion!
Gold Treasure is a popular narrative in Hollywood movies and the memorable opening of Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark sees our treasure hunting hero making off with gold in the form of a small statue – a Golden idol – which rests on a booby-trapped pedestal. The weight of the Idol is approximately 3 pounds, which counterbalances a trigger to make the temple collapse. The Gold Idol in the film was, of course, a prop, rather than real gold, but had it been solid, it would have been worth somewhere in the region of £40,000.
Perhaps the most famous appearance of Hollywood gold is featured in the British film ‘The Italian Job’ with Michael Caine’s “Lads, I’ve got an idea” declaration. Based in Turin, Caine and his crew attempt to pilfer $4 million in gold, which, at today’s prices, equates to approximately 111 x 1kg bars. That’s a lot of gold left precariously dangling over the Alps. In subsequent interviews, Michael Caine has revealed that the ending was filmed to leave an opportunity for a sequel, in which he and his gang would escape but the gold, and the bus, would crash to the ground, leaving the mafia to pick it up and escape… The mafia was actually genuinely involved in the making of this film, as the Italian authorities refused to close down the roads, so the Mafia did instead, shutting down whole sections of Turin…
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a group of dwarves want to reclaim their mountain home, and their pile of gold, from the dragon Smaug. The pile was brought to life in the most recent film versions, with some enterprising mathematicians calculating that Smaug sits on around 158 cubic metres of gold. Clearly Tolkien’s Middle Earth is very different to our own earth, where only 21 cubic metres have ever been mined, according to the World Gold Council.
Rumoured to be an area of great wealth, and based on the reports of a returning priest, the Spaniards were eager to find and conquer the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola founded on stories of them being filled with untold riches and glittering in gold. The 16th-century expedition was unsuccessful and ended only after months and miles of exploration of what is now Kansas, USA.
In an unselfish Hollywood Gold moment, Three Kings is a Gulf War movie, with a trio of US soldiers embarking on a mission to retrieve Kuwait’s stolen gold – rumoured to be hidden in some nearby bunkers – and keep it for themselves. Using a map found between someone’s buttocks, the three soldiers find the gold but inadvertently find themselves in the middle of a hostile situation. The soldiers end up sacrificing their haul to save the lives of refugees. All’s well that ends well, including the case of the fictitious gold, which is returned to its fictitious owners, but “strangely” the film states, with ‘a few bars’ unaccounted for!