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Gold, Recovery of

The Towers’ buried treasure.

Earlier in the morning, before the attack, an ­armored truck had made its way through an underground tunnel below the World Trade Center. Inside the truck was millions of dollars’ worth of bullion. Through a maze of underground tunnels, the truck had just left a vault in which Comex, the commodities exchange, kept thousands of gold [G2] and silver bars stacked on pallets, a warehouse of megariches beneath the city surface.

The armored truck and the bullion inside were found in the first couple of days of the recovery effort, crushed along with other cars in the subbasement by falling steel; the driver had evidently escaped before the collapse. People thought the gold in the vault might be accessible to looters. But it turned out that the most difficult problem was bringing in electricity to rewire the vault doors. Soon, under the watch of dozens of armed guards, thousands of bars of gold and silver were hauled out of the bi-level 6,000-square-foot vault. All told, there were 379,036 ounces of gold, stacked in 30-pound ingots. There was much more silver, in bars as big as bread loaves, weighing 70 pounds per loaf. Eventually, workers hauled out all 29,942,619 ounces.

All the precious metal under the Towers was accounted for. At one point, as workers were hauling out the treasure, they broke for lunch. There were no tables or chairs. Instead, they ate their meals on stacks of gold bars.


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