The legend is too good to resist — 800 barrels crammed with gold and jewels hidden on the small, rocky island in the Pacific Ocean that inspired Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe novel.

The story of how the 18th century Spanish gold from the Americas got there seems to change with every telling and evidence is thin on the ground to say the least. Yet that hasn’t stopped Dutch businessman and treasure hunter Bernard Keiser from dedicating much of his life to searching for it.

The stakes rose this week after it was made public that authorities in Chile had given him permission to dig up part of a national park using heavy machinery. While the authorities argue the area is smaller than a soccer field, environmentalists and opposition parties say the intervention of an 8.7-ton excavator will be irreversible.

“It is a clear twisting of the law that’s being used to favor a Dutch multimillionaire who hasn’t found any evidence after years of searching,” said Diego Ibanez, a congressman with left-wing coalition of parties Frente Amplio. “It’s important to preserve the land, and not to give it away to investigations that seem to be based more on religion than science.”

Murder and mutiny

The place in question is Juan Fernandez, an island 400 miles off the Chilean coast where the Scottish privateer Alexander Selkirk was marooned for four years in the early 18th century. The event inspired the Robinson Crusoe story.

The gold allegedly arrived on the island a few years after Selkirk left and involves a swashbuckling tale of hurricanes, shipwrecks, looting, murder and mutiny. Some accounts value the treasure at $10 billion and say it included a giant rose made of gold.

The treasure was allegedly amassed by the Spanish Crown in Latin America and buried on Juan Fernandez by admiral Juan Esteban Ubilla around 1714, during a civil war in Spain.

Read more about the Dutch Treasure Hunter who is digging for 800 Barrels of gold on Robinson Crusoe Island on the Bloomberg website  HERE

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