Mobster Dutch Schultz had a reputation for being hot-tempered and brutal. However, that’s not why his notorious legacy lives on. On his deathbed, Dutch rambled deliriously about some hidden treasure of his, and to this day, modern-day treasure hunters have been driving themselves mad, running around with shovels, desperate to find this mobster’s buried riches.
The problem with this story is the number of contradictions and loopholes it has. Historian John Conway said of the scavenger hunt: “I think Schultz would have delighted in this because he was the expert of misdirection, deception and falsehoods.”
Here’s what you need to know if you want to find the treasure yourself.
From Bronx Beginnings to a Criminal Empire
Before becoming known as Dutch Schultz, the mobster was born as an innocent baby named Arthur Flegenheimer to German-Jewish immigrants living in the Bronx in 1901. Growing up, he started hanging around with the Bronx’s “Frog Hollow Gang,” who gave him the moniker “Dutch Schultz.”
As one may imagine, the journey to becoming a master criminal is littered with enemies, from law enforcement to other mobsters who clashed with him over territory in the 1930s.
A Hothead Loudmouth
In 1931, the criminal gangs of New York founded “the Commission,” which was meant to merge several Mafias under one governing form. “It was a time of no more independent operators doing things the way they wanted,” said Sullivan County historian John Conway, who wrote the 2000 book “Dutch Schultz and his Lost Catskills’ Treasure.”
Conway wrote that Dutch was viewed by his peers at the Commission as a hotheaded loudmouth, a quality they disliked. This isn’t to say that his peers weren’t hotheaded and ruthless themselves, but, according to Conway, Dutch outdid all of them.
In One Particularly Brutal Incident…
In one ruthless occasion at the Harmony Hotel in Cohoes, Dutch Shultz shot gangster Jules Modgilewsky right in the mouth. According to Shultz’s lawyer, the mobster killed the guy with zero remorse. He shot him “just as casually as if he were picking his teeth.”
After the fall of Chicago’s Al Capone, Schultz became known as Public Enemy No. 1. The mobster sat in court twice for tax evasion (the same crime that tripped up Al Capone); however, he was never convicted. By this point, Shultz drew the attention of Thomas E. Dewey, a prosecutor who would later become governor of New York.
He Ordered Them to Kill Dewey
“Dewey didn’t give up; he kept going after Schultz,” historian John Conway stated. “So Schultz decided he had to kill Dewey. It’s the only way he could get him off his back.” Shultz’s proposal of killing such an important and public figure seemed too much for the Commission.
Unfortunately for Schultz, the Commission later ordered his killing, and the mobster was gunned down on October 23, 1935, at Newark’s Palace Chop House tavern. Three of his other associates were shot that night as well.
The Treasure Is Located in Phoenicia
Dutch Schultz laid in the hospital for 24 hours, bleeding, hurting, mumbling a stream of phrases that observers listened to carefully. He babbled weird phrases like “A boy has never wept… nor dashed a thousand kin,” and other statements that were way more interesting.
“The police wrote down everything he said,” Conway said. “They wrote down that there is a treasure and where it’s located in Phoenicia.” Rumor has it that Dutch Shultz hid cash to fund his escape in case Dewey ever tried to arrest him.
Buried in the Catskills?
Legend has it that the mobster hid the goodies either in a steel box, a waterproof safe, or a suitcase. Regardless of the container, the content is said to be a mix of jewelry, gold coins, paper money, and bonds. So, where is the location?
According to police, the mobster uttered something about the Catskills or a different part of upstate. Historian John Conway insists that if there is any treasure, it isn’t likely that it’s been buried. He writes: “These were city men, not (digging a hole) up there in hiking gear.”
It’s Worth $100 Million
In 1935 terms, Schulz’s money was worth between $5 million and $9 million. Nowadays, this fortune is worth anywhere between $50 to $100 million (depending on the ratio of cash to gold in the mix). With that kind of price on the line… no wonder everyone rushed to buy shovels.
While Schultz was on his deathbed, police questioned him incessantly. At one point, the mobster is said to have said: “Don’t let Satan draw you too fast.” Many assumed that this was some sort of coded reference to the Catskills mountains in Phoenicia, which have different landmarks referencing the devil including a huge boulder called Devil’s Tombstone.
There Used to Be a Map
This area in New York was significant for Dutch Schultz, who was responsible for some illegal bootlegging operations in the Catskills. He also ran alcoholic beverages up and down the Hudson from Canada all the way to New York City.
Bernard “Lulu” Rosenkrantz, Schultz’s loyal friend and bodyguard (who many believe hid the mobster’s treasure at his request) was gunned down alongside Schultz and is said to have drawn a sketch of its exact location.
It Has Never Been Seen Since
According to Bruce Alterman, author of the book “Fear in Phoenicia,” Bernard gave the sketched map to another Schultz associate named Marty Krompier, who was also murdered by another mobster named Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro while he was in a barbershop.
Marty Krompier didn’t die of the attack, but rumor has it that Shapiro managed to snatch the map and leave the scene eager to start looking. To this day, no one has any idea where this map might be.
The Internet Is Flooded With Hypotheses
In the meanwhile, several modern-day hunters have drawn out their own ideas of where the treasure is hidden. The internet is also packed with a host of hypothetical pinpoints regarding the allegedly hidden cash. Each person throws in a different idea, making the search a lot more confusing.
From the ’30s to the current day, the legend of Dutch Schultz’s hidden cash compels tourists and locals to snoop around Phoenicia. People are so desperate to find it that they’re willing to pay more for an apartment that is supposedly buried close to the location.
People Still Drop by the Phoenicia Library to Ask for the Map
In May 2021, a person who slept at an Airbnb in Phoenicia left a review on the site, saying that they visited the place to see the area where the mobster allegedly buried his gold “10 miles away.” Moreover, the Phoenicia Library stated that visitors still hop by to ask for maps of the area.
One guy spent the last several years of his life walking up and down, shovel in hand, in the nearby pathways of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad. Ultimately, his excessive digging messed up the tracks, and he was asked by railroad officials to put an end to it.
They Asked to Dig on Her Property
According to John Conway, a retired detective named Gary Bennet used to email him regularly with new leads. “He had a good way of piecing together things. He said he knew where the treasure is. But when he got there, he found a hole and a tree next to the hole with the year ‘1934’ carved into it.”
A woman who owned a campground near where the alleged treasure is believed to be reported that visitors used to knock on her door all the time, with metal detectors and shovels in hand, asking to search for the gold on her property.
They Dug Up Her Whole Yard
Eventually, the woman wrote up an agreement for visitors to sign, confirming that she would get a portion of the goodies if they found it. However, after one visitor dug up her entire yard and left it just like that, muddy and all, she stopped allowing people in.
So, is the Loot in Phoenicia? John Conway believes that there are other rumored burial spots, including Lake George and Yonkers. The historian added that it’s also possible that the gold never existed in the first place. Or maybe, it has already been found.
No One Knows for Sure
“No one knows for sure,” John Conway stated. “There are so many versions of the legend and story. It’s one of the reasons why people are fascinated by it – they’re challenged to find the right version, and then challenged to find the treasure.”
There’s certainly something thrilling about finding lost treasure. And there’s certainly something thrilling about becoming $100 million richer. However, I have a feeling that the mobster was out of his mind when he mumbled those words, and that none of us should dedicate our lives to trying to find whatever alleged treasure he babbled about.
Secrets of the Dead: Gangster’s Gold
Secrets of the Dead: Gangster’s Gold is a PBS documentary featuring three groups of treasure scavengers who search for Dutch Schultz’s gold fortune. One of the people interviewed in the show is Stanley Grauso, the only living member of the mobster’s gang.
At 104 years old, Stanley recalls Schultz’s reign as a powerful criminal and the intense feud he had with prosecutor Thomas Dewey. With the use of advanced technology and years of intense research, the treasure hunting groups went out to search for Schultz’s loot in the Catskills.
In Secrets of the Dead: Gangster’s Gold, the three groups of treasure hunters use old photos, maps, metal detectors, radar, and additional tools for their search. The hunters arrive at the forest, precisely where the map indicates the treasure is. They find an abandoned cabin assumed to be a hiding place for Dutch’s gang.
The treasure hunters tried to break down all sorts of hidden tunnels in their quest to find the loot. If you haven’t watched the show, this won’t be much of a spoiler … but … they still haven’t found the hidden treasure. Too bad!
The Most Infamous Mob Hangouts
Speaking of criminals in New York: let’s take a glimpse at some of the most notorious hangout places in the city known to host some of the city’s most infamous mobsters. Because, really, New York is swarming with them.
The Mafia and New York City practically go hand-in-hand. Even though New York doesn’t want to admit it, its ties are terribly intertwined with the criminals that used to, and in some cases still do, roam the streets.
Mob Hangout Number One – Rao’s
Rao’s originally opened its doors in 1896. It turned into a famous spot, favored by gangsters of the area, with people like Lucky Luciano and John Gotti dining there regularly. However, Rao’s is also a favorite hangout for celebrities and police officers.
Rao’s was even featured in The Wolf of Wall Street. However, what made the place a really notorious mob hangout was the event that went down in 2003, when Louis ‘Louie Lump Lump’ Barone killed Albert Circelli, a member of the Lucchese crime family. The killing occurred after Circelli insulted a singer.
Mob Hangout Number Two – Sparks Steak House
Sparks Steak House likely doesn’t need an introduction. It originally opened its doors in 1966 before moving to Midtown Manhattan in 1977. Today, it’s one of New York City’s most beloved steakhouses and is still considered one of the most infamous mob hangouts.
It gained notoriety after John Gotti used the steakhouse to take aggressive action for the Gambino crime family. With tensions soaring between him and mobster Paul Castellano, Gotti called for his death in the winter of 1985. Castellano and his bodyguard were killed right in front of the restaurant.
Mob Hangout Number Three – Don Peppe
Located in Ozone Park, Queens, Don Peppe opened its doors in 1968 and has since then been a favorite with locals, tourists, and mobsters. It’s known for its baked clams and famous “mamma’s marinara sauce.”
The place got press for its Mafia ties when Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Rabito, of the Bonanno crime family, was ordered to stay away from the restaurant. Fat Tony was also told to steer clear of Rao’s and Bamonte’s. Other than that, Don Peppe is also the hangout for Genovese capo, Ciro Perrone.
Mob Hangout Number Four – Robert’s Lounge
Robert’s Lounge became famous after Martin Scorsese released his film Goodfellas. Played by Robert De Niro, Jimmy ‘the Gent’ Burke owned the notorious bar in Ozone Park until 1979.
After the Gent was put on the F.B.I.’s suspect list following the Lufthansa heist, Robert’s Lounge was put under a watchful eye. The Lufthansa heist, which was covered in the film, led to several tragic deaths.
Mob Hangout Number Five – Tommaso Ristorante
Famous for its Italian cuisine, Tommaso, located in Dyker Heights, earned its notorious mob hangout reputation after the Gambino crime family established its headquarters next door. Among Mafia members of the headquarters was Paul Castellano, the guy who was killed outside of Sparks Steak House.
During a sit down with the Financial Times, the owner of the place, Tommosa Verdillo, told the magazine that Paul Castellano was “like a big brother to me.” Tommosa Verdillo even catered several of the Don’s events at his Staten Island home.
Mob Hangout Number Six – Ravenite Social Club
Located at 247 Mulberry Street in Little Italy, the Ravenite Social Club was one of Manhattan’s most famous mob hangouts, thanks to ‘the Dapper Don,’ John Gotti. The social club became a mob scene overnight after the death of Paul Castellano.
Members of the Gambino crime family, as well as Gotti’s associates, all came to pay their respects to the new leader. Perhaps the place is even more notorious for being a part of Gotti’s downfall because later on, the F.B.I. would proceed to wire the whole club as well as the upstairs apartment.
Mob Hangout Number Seven – Triangle Social Club
Considered by most people New York’s last “great mafia social club,” the Triangle Social Club, once located in Greenwich Village, closed its doors in 2011. However, it certainly left behind a legacy. According to the New York Post, Vincent ‘the Chin’ Gigante, the boss of the Genovese crime family, owned it.
Later on in his life, Gigante was often seen walking down the streets of the neighborhood in his bathrobe and slippers. The police believed this was an ‘act,’ a way to play crazy so he wouldn’t be charged with his crimes. Nowadays, Sullivan Street Tea & Spice Company occupies the space.
Mob Hangout Number Eight – Umberto’s Clam House
Currently stationed at 132 Mulberry Street, Umberto’s Clam House is famous for the assassination of ‘Crazy Joe’ Gallo back in 1972. Crazy Joe was known for trying to take over the Profaci crime family, which would later be called the Colombo family.
As a result, Crazy Joe was murdered while celebrating his birthday with his loved ones. Umberto’s Clam House, which is known for its incredible seafood, is still open today and has plenty of clients, despite (or maybe because of) its reputation as a famous mob hangout.
Mob Hangout Number Nine – Astoria Colts Social Club
The least known on this list of mob hangouts, the Astoria Colts Social Club is known largely due to Vincent Papa, who was a member of the Lucchese crime family. They allegedly used the Astoria Colts social club as a hideout to plan illegal business.
But Papa became famous for his part in the “French Connection robbery.” The illegal substances confiscated during that infamous event, which eventually was turned into an Academy Award-winning film, were stolen out of the police evidence room.
Mob Hangout Number Ten – Theatre 80, St. Marks
Located on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village is Theatre 80 and the William Barnacle Tavern. The proud owner of the place, Lorcan Otway, opened his Mafia museum around ten years ago. However, it’s Otway’s unexpected ties with the mob that makes it truly interesting.
When Otway’s father, an aspiring and struggling actor, bought the place from Walter Scheib, he knew it was a mob hangout (the basement was even used as an escape tunnel). However, when he searched the location, Otway’s dad found a safe with $2 million. He let Scheib know, after which the gangster grabbed the money and ran. The safe is now on display in the museum.
More Hidden Treasures
Attention all treasure hunters! Dutch Schultz’s fortune isn’t the only buried treasure up for grabs. Here are some more stashed goods that have yet to be claimed. Number one is located in Maine and has to do with a pirate’s treasure worth millions.
There’s a town in Maine that may be the home of one pirate’s buried treasure which is said to be worth millions of dollars. Legend has it that the treasure belonged to pirate Samuel Bellamy, who was dwelling in the area before setting out on another pirate run. After he was captured, he was sentenced to death and hanged. He never managed to retrieve the treasure he left behind in Maine.
German Soldiers’ Loot Hidden in the Catskills
If you’ve tried hunting for Dutch Schultz’s fortune in the Catskills, you might also check out the nearby town of Liberty. However, you won’t need to dig anything up for this treasure, so you won’t be needing a shovel.
In 1942, German immigrant Otto Hillig’s aircraft was hijacked by two Nazi spies. But the mid-air battle left the German soldiers dead. Otto then snatched their money but didn’t want to carry it around, so he hid it someplace and left clues for others to find it. It still hasn’t been found.
Pirate’s Buried Treasure in New Jersey
A pirate named William Kidd is said to have left some buried treasure chests right by Cape May Point in southern New Jersey. According to Cape May Point’s website, one captain revealed that he had seen something suspicious in the area.
According to the captain, he spotted several men near North Wildwood heading ashore and returning to their ship carrying a treasure chest. It’s presumably one of the many treasure chests that William Kidd hid around the area.
Lost Civil War Gold in Pennsylvania
According to historical documents, the Union army was transferring gold bars to Virginia to pay soldiers. However, somewhere along the way, the gold vanished. According to an article from The New York Times, 52 bars were transferred.
According to the paper: “Each 14-carat bar weighed 50 pounds, making the trove potentially worth millions of dollars.” In 2018, the FBI began digging around the area. But, unfortunately, none of the special force officers found anything.
In Virginia There’s a Sack Worth $300 Million
According to History.com, confederate ranger John Singleton Mosby and his group of guerrilla raiders “surprised more than 40 Union troops at the Fairfax Courthouse and overcame them without firing a shot.” Mosby then snuck off with a bag filled with silver, gold, jewelry, and more.
The content in Mosby’s burlap sack was said to be worth over $350,000 at the time. Mosby then told his men to stash the sack in the woods, but when he sent them back to reclaim it, they were captured. Mosby never went to get it himself, so it’s still underground somewhere in the woods of Fairfax County, Virginia. Good luck!
And Now… Here’s Something to Lift Your Spirits!
Enough with treasures that haven’t been found. Time for some uplifting stories.
About 10 years ago, 85-year-old Forest Fenn reportedly hid what researchers estimate to be $5 million worth of gold and jewelry in a small chest some place high up in the Rocky Mountains. In Fenn’s poem, The Thrill of the Chase, he dropped clues about the whereabouts of his gold.
The poem inspired thousands of treasure-hunters to go looking for it. Tragically, some of them died trying. In the summer of 2020, the fortune was finally discovered by a man who chose to remain anonymous. On his website, Forest Fenn wrote, “It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago.”
The Beale Ciphers Are Still Lost
Back in the early 1800s, Thomas J. Beale stumbled upon a mine full of gold, silver, and jewels in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Along with 30 other treasure hunters, Beale transported the valuables to Bedford County, Virginia, where he buried them.
He then wrote down three encoded letters discussing what the treasure entailed, where it was buried, and the contact information of the folks who helped him bury it. He then put the letters in a box, handed them to a friend, and instructed him to only open them if he hadn’t come back to claim them in 10 years. The letters were ultimately published in 1885, but only one of them has been cracked.
Ted Binion’s Nevada Stash Is Somewhere Out There
Wealthy casino owner Ted Binion passed away more than two decades ago, but his legacy, a silver collection estimated at several million dollars, is said to be buried somewhere around his Nevada ranch.
Binion was reportedly killed in 1998 at 55 years old by his partner and her lover. While the pair was acquitted of murder, they were both attained on charges related to theft. Their motive was Binion’s collection of silver goods. Some people think that his buried fortune is still somewhere on the property.
The Old Ozark Treasure Cave Is Still Lost
In one of the Ozarks’ most famous mysteries, the Old Spanish Treasure Cave, in the northwest corner of Arkansas, is rumored to contain hidden treasures buried by Spanish conquistadors who were fleeing from Native Americans nearly 400 years ago.
The treasure chest itself hasn’t been found yet, but items from that time period such as helmets, and armor have been discovered in the area, so we believe there’s still hope! It’s never too late to discover a several hundred-year-old treasure.
Blackbeard’s Atlantic Coast Treasure
Back in the 18th century, a pirate named Blackbeard traveled through the West Indies and Atlantic Coast of North America, raiding ships filled with gold, silver, and other treasures which were going from Mexico and South America back to Spain.
It’s rumored that Blackbeard once boasted about some buried treasure, but never trusted his friends enough to reveal the secret location. After the pirate was captured and executed in 1718, treasure hunters began searching for Blackbeard’s hidden fortune, and the search hasn’t stopped since.