There is a certain intrigue and allure to discovering a shipwreck lodged deep in the sea, brimming with treasure. In a slightly less glamorous, but more modern way, sunken treasure is also a market moving event for the electronic herd! This week, a South Korean exploration company said it had discovered a sunken Russian warship, the Dimitrii Donskoi, that went down more than 100 years ago off the Korean coast. More importantly, the Russian Imperial Navy cruiser has long been rumored to have 200 tons of gold onboard. That haul would add up to some $132.5 billion of gold.
Along with igniting the imaginations of the exploration team, the purported discovery also fueled the make-it-rain dreams of South Korean day traders that began to pour money into manufacturing companies—that may or may not have anything to gain from the discovery—based on the news, Bloomberg reports. The market jumped 20 and 30 percent for two Korean manufacturing companies (before later dipping) prompting South Korea’s financial regulator to issue a warning to investors about buying stocks based on the rumors of lost treasure. In a word: don’t. This is not the first time wild rumors have circulated about the Donskoi and her mythical golden belly, the regulator noted, and the last time the company making the claims went belly up.
“Rumours persist that the Donskoi was carrying the gold for Russia’s Pacific Fleet, used to pay crew salaries and docking fees—gold which would be worth billions of dollars if found today,” the BBC notes. “But no proof exists that the ship carried gold, with academics raising doubts that a warship would carry such valuable cargo.” The BBC’s Korean service reports some fishy details about the company that made the discovery, the Shinil Group, which was only founded last month with less than $100,000 in capital. That’s quite a stroke of luck for a new company in a capital intensive industry that relies on big investments paying off over time with massive payloads. The lack of funds also means the company would need to raise funds to apply for salvage rights from South Korea’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, which requires a 10 percent down payment on the estimated value of the wreck.
The company released a video of the discovery.
The Shinil Group told the BBC the salvage would take approximately three months and the company would schedule a press conference to explain the discovery.