Fort Knox holds more secrets than we will ever know, but the biggest one is: how much gold, if any, is there in America’s most famous bullion bunker?
Fort Knox is said to hold millions of ounces of gold within its bombproof granite walls. But that’s far from certain. Rumor has it that all, or most, of the gold in Fort Knox is gone…
What Is Fort Knox?
Fort Knox is a top-secret U.S. army base in Kentucky. A highly classified bunker surrounded by steel fences and multiple alarms, Fort Knox has a bomb-proof roof and is guarded by Apache attack helicopters. The building itself is pretty hardcore, to say the least: it’s made of concrete-lined granite and reinforced with steel to withstand possible attacks.
A gold vault was built inside Fort Knox in 1935 to protect America’s gold during growing world turmoil. A small army post back then, Fort Knox was chosen because of its military support and its location behind the mountains, which makes it less vulnerable to air attacks. The gold was shipped into Fort Knox in 1937 on a special nine-car train under the protection of the 7th U.S. Cavalry Brigade.
So How Much Gold Is In Fort Knox?
The government says Fort Knox currently holds 147.3 million ounces of gold, with a “book value” of $6.22 billion. But this book value is based on a fixed price of gold that was set back in… 1973, at $42 an ounce! If we take the current market value of gold, Fort Knox’s gold reserves are worth, roughly speaking, a whopping $274 billion!
Of course, that is if it is still there. But it’s hard to know for sure. Now, some people like billionaire precious metals trader Eric Sprott argue that the gold could very well be at Fort Knox, but it’s been leased out to commercial banks. And yes, it could very well be leased. But leasing is a paper transaction. It doesn’t mean the government surrenders possession of the gold.
If JPMorgan, for example, leases gold from the U.S. Treasury, it does not mean that they back up a truck in Fort Knox and drive the gold away. It is just a paper transaction. The gold could be sitting there on a shelf in Fort Knox and still be leased out and unaudited. Now, once JPMorgan has the gold they will sell it at times 100 to gold investors who think they have bought actual gold. But what they really have is what is called unallocated gold. Unallocated gold is a euphemism for no gold.
If you call up JPMorgan and tell them you want to buy a million dollars of gold, they’ll agree to it. And they’ll send you a confirmation saying you own a million dollars of gold subject to the contract. But if you read the fine print, it says that your gold is unallocated. That means they do not claim to have any specific bar with a serial number or your name on it.
In reality they have taken the same bar of gold and sold it to 100 different investors. Now, that’s not a problem unless all 100 parties show up at once and ask for their gold. The first person may get the gold, but the other 99 people are going to get their contracts terminated. They will receive a check for the value of gold at the close of business the previous day. But they are not going to get the gold they thought they were buying. That is when you discover that JPMorgan does not have the gold.
Some conspiracy theorists even claim that Fort Knox’s gold bars were actually tungstenbricks painted to look like gold, while the real gold was secretly sold off by the government. Others said the gold was stolen to “manipulate commodities markets” to plunge gold prices and boost the U.S. dollar.
But the government politely disagrees… saying the U.S. Treasury conducts annual audits of the vaults to ensure that all the gold in Fort Knox is safe. Well, we guess we’ll just have to take its word for it.
Is It Possible To Visit Fort Knox?
Unfortunately, not really, unless you are a U.S. Treasury auditor. In fact, only a handful of people have ever gotten inside. Franklin Roosevelt became the only U.S. president to set foot into Fort Knox’s gold vault. He traveled there in 1943 to personally inspect the gold reserves. Roosevelt’s visit was the one and only time Fort Knox’s vault was opened for inspection for anyone other than authorized personnel.
Another rare official trip to the gold depository was made by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in 2017. Along with several elected officials, he came to check on the government’s largest gold stockpile. But this is where the story gets weird. Reportedly, Mnuchin and his delegation only had a quick peek at one of the 13 compartments within the Fort Knox vault, which prompted some to call the visit a bizarre “PR stunt” without a clear purpose.
Anyway, this didn’t stop Mnuchin from tweeting after the trip: “Glad gold is safe“.
What can you learn from the Fort Knox gold story?
For investors seeking more long-term security with their investments, the secrecy of Fort Knox’s gold reserves can be a bit concerning. So, if you want to build your gold savings, make sure you do these two things:
1.) Buy allocated gold, which belongs to you alone, not a bank or government.
2.) Store it in a secure vault that gives you insurance, accessibility, and direct ownership.
So what do you think? Is the gold really still there or have we been duped?