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The Czarist Treasure Hunt

cateblanchett.jpgThe solution to all of Russia’s economic ills may lie in a ten-foot deep hole in the middle of the Gobi Desert. Here’s a real wild story from the LA Times of an American socialite and daughter of a Russian prince who is on the hunt for a huge buried treasure, which she says should be returned to the people of Russia.  This literally sounds just like an Indiana Jones movie (minus the negative portrayal of the Soviets), but I can’t figure out what the scam might be or why they are going to the newspapers with the story.

“I got to know Maria very well,” Barham says. “She said Papa George had been very close to the czarina and she trusted him. Crazy as it sounds, the story was all true.”

Barham waited a year “out of respect for the state funeral of the czar and his family” before attempting to mount a 1999 expedition to recover the jewels, said Chris Harris, a Beverly Hills public relations consultant she hired to help organize the search.

Hopes for the recovery expedition to the Gobi Desert evaporated when the cable network backed out and Barham balked at a Texas university’s request for a $500,000 “donation” to help train Mongolian judges in exchange for smoothing the way with Mongolian officials for her to enter the Gobi.

Harris remains confident that the crown jewels are still buried beneath the sands.

“There’s no doubt whatsoever it’s there. I’ve talked to people who know what happened back then. This is not a Hollywood story. This is real history,” he says.