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One billion Soviet rubles discovered in an abandoned mine, but no one got rich

Alex A
Soviet rubles. Photo Credit
Soviet rubles. Photo Credit

Each and every one of us has dreamed of finding a hidden treasure. Some people take it beyond the dreaming stage, and conduct searches, hoping for instant wealth. Most of those search parties end up empty-handed, as the stories of hidden treasures are myths for the most part. But they’re not always myths. Or sometimes, the “treasure” is found, yet it’s not what was hoped for.

A group of explorers in Russia heard rumors about a huge stash of cash hidden in an abandoned mine near Moscow as the Soviet Union collapsed, and acted on it. The group, based in Saint Petersburg, actually managed to find the money … but they didn’t get rich.

After hearing some intriguing rumors, the group of explorers—which publishes a blog about abandoned Russian sites—began their quest for the treasure this  May. The rumors took them to a former missile silo. The locals confirmed the existence of the mine but told them that nobody ever went near the place. The people were afraid that the mine was polluted with radiation, since it was linked to the ballistic missile program of the Soviet Union.

Despite the warnings, the explorers decided to go forward with their plan. One of their first discoveries was that the locals were wrong: the Geiger counter showed no radiation present at the site.

Their trip of several hours across the harsh terrain of the Vladimir region seemed as if it was well worth their trouble with the sensational discovery of a billion rubles, dumped in the silo by the Soviet government.

The discovered banknotes were printed between 1961 and 1991 and all kinds of denominations were found at the site. Unfortunately, the money is completely worthless; these rubles are not in use anymore. In the mine, recently flooded, the explorers found a swamp of banknotes with Vladimir Lenin’s face on them. (At the current exchange rate, the value of the billion rubles, if they were accepted currency, is $18 million, while in 1991, when the money was hidden, their worth in US dollars was $33.3 million.)

The group of explorers published a video of the discovery on their YouTube channel. After the discovery, team members Sergey Volkov and Anton Alekseev were interviewed by Russian TV stations. According to a reporter from Rossiya1 Television, the government of the USSR decided to dump the money there, and there are at least three more sites with hidden money to be discovered.

Another member of the exploring team, Olga Bogdanova, has said that the discovery made her happy and sad at the same time. She said that the money would be enough for a lot of people, considering that back in those days, a salary of just 100 rubles was a very good one. Shamefully, this billion semi-destroyed banknotes won’t do any good for the Russian people.

Among other notable cases of hidden treasure: In 2013, a California couple found a stash of 1,427 rare coins buried in their backyard. The coins were issued between 1847 and 1894 and were discovered while the couple was walking their dog.

Soviet rubles. Photo Credit
Soviet rubles. Photo Credit

Experts appraised the value of the coins to be $11 million. The discoverers sold some of the coins on Amazon, while some were donated to local charities.

In 2011, a man who identified himself as John purchased an abandoned storage unit in San Jose, California. The unit was sold at an auction, and the man paid $1,100 for it. Once he entered the unit, John discovered $500,000 hidden among the other items in the container.

Read another story from us: The first Chinese paper money, “jiaozi,” was stamped with six different inks and multiple banknote seals

And it’s not always money and coins. In 1989, an anonymous man purchased a framed painting at a flea market in Pennsylvania. He paid $4 for the art piece, which later turned out to be one of the 24 copies of the original Declaration of Independence from 1776. Two years later, he sold the document at an auction for $2.4 million.