Nick Mead is an English collector of military vehicles. Recently, he thought he found a great deal when he bought an Iraqi tank for about $40,000.
This tank, used in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, turned out to be a much better investment than Mead ever could have imagined. That’s because he found more than $2 million worth of gold hidden in the fuel tank.
At the end of the Gulf War, there was chaos in Iraq. Many people in the country thought the United States was coming to overthrow Saddam Hussein, so groups began rising up and rebelling. Hussein‘s palaces were ransacked, and millions upon millions of dollars’ worth of gold bullion, jewelry, and other valuable items were stolen.
The Americans, however, never arrived. The rebellion was crushed, resulting in more than 180,000 deaths. People had to quickly hide their ill-gotten loot in order to keep it from being discovered. If Hussein’s loyalists found gold or other valuables on someone, the person was tried and executed.
This chaos resulted in millions of dollars in gold going missing. Because hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were displaced after the war, many were forced to leave their booty behind in order to get out of the country. This particular tank was confiscated by the British before the gold could be retrieved.
For Mead, their loss was his gain. He and a friend were working to restore the tank when they went to remove the fuel tank. Upon doing so, they found five gold bars that weighed up to 12 pounds each. They quickly did the math and realized it was worth more than $2 million.
Although they were excited, they didn’t know what to do with all that gold. A person can’t exactly walk into a bank or check cashing store with $2 million in Iraqi gold. They decided to call the police to tell them what they had found.
They also had found ammunition hidden elsewhere in the tank and worried that guns had been hidden in it too. Because gun laws in Great Britain are much stricter than in the United States, they would have to alert authorities.
The police showed up and actually took the gold, giving the men a receipt. It’s unclear if they will get to keep any of the money or if they will just have the receipt to remind them of the brief moment they were millionaires.
It seems unlikely that they’ll ever get this money back. When a person finds money, they have to make a reasonable effort to locate the original owners. Since the original owner of this gold was the Iraqi government, it seems more likely that the government will get the money back. It might seem unfair to these men, but that’s the way the law works.
For their part, the men are just happy to have a nice tank that they can restore. They’re military enthusiasts, so this Russian T54/69 tank will make a great addition to their collection. And although they may not have millions of dollars, they do have a great story to tell.