In 1701, craftsmen from Denmark and Poland were hired by Frederick I of Prussia to create the Amber Room.
Before disappearing at the end of WWII, the Amber Room had belonged to kings and dictators and had even been labeled as the eighth wonder of the world.
Now, 72 years later, three amateur sleuths, homeopath Leonhard Blume, 73, scientist Günter Eckardt, 67, and georadar specialist Peter Lohr, 71, believe they have found the lost treasure, reports the Daily Mail.
They believe this famed room currently resides in Prince’s Cave in the Hartenstein hills near Dresden.
The cave is known to have been used by Nazi scientists, and Lohr says that a “reliable source” told him in 2001 that the room was brought to an underground bunker there in 1945.
They say they’ve found evidence of a large bunker in these hills, as well as physical evidence of where steel ropes were used to haul crates to their desired location.
The team is now attempting to raise enough money for a detailed examination of this location.
These three German investigators would not be the first to believe they have found the location of the elusive room. Since its disappearance in 1945, many treasure hunters have clamored to discover the location of this lost horde, but so far none have been successful.
The Amber Room, one of the prized possessions of the Russian Tsars, was a 180-square-foot chamber built out of amber walls, adorned with beautiful carvings as well as gold and precious gems.
The room was first commissioned by Frederick I of Prussia in 1701 at the urging of his new wife.
He hired amber masters and craftsmen from Denmark and Poland to create the exquisitely carved panels and reliefs. These craftsmen set multicolored amber onto gold leaf panels to create intricate mosaics. The room was also decorated with mosaics of quartz, jasmine, jade, and onyx.
It was valued in 2016 as being worth around $500,000,000 today.
The Amber Room was installed in Frederick’s Berlin City Palace in 1709, but it would not remain there for long.
Three years later, Frederick I died, and in 1716, when his son Frederick William I was hosting Peter the Great of Russia, he presented the Amber Room to the Tsar as a gift commemorating their alliance against Sweden.
The original design for the room was then reworked, as craftsmen moved The Amber Room to Catherine Palace outside St. Petersburg.
Prussian and Russian craftsmen then spent ten years constructing this new configuration of the room, as well as conducting further renovations.
Over six tons of stone were used to create this enlarged version of the room.
While a German-Russian alliance may have created this improved Amber Room, it was enmity between these two nations which would cause the room to be lost to the ages.
In 1941, when the Nazis invaded Russia, the curators at Catherine Palace attempted to hide away the Amber Room.
They knew that the Nazis had a proclivity for stealing the cultural treasures of their enemies, and after learning that they could not move the brittle amber panels without causing them to crumble to pieces, they wallpapered over the famous room.
Unfortunately, the Nazis were unconvinced by this paltry disguise and quickly discovered the room.
With more time than the fleeing Russians, the Germans carefully disassembled the Amber Room and shipped the composite pieces to Königsberg Castle museum, where it was stored with numerous other pieces of looted art.
This was the last verified location of the Amber Room, and what happened to the famed chamber from that point on is the subject of much speculation and argument.
Many believe that the Amber Room was destroyed by Allied bombs while it was at Königsberg, while others believe it was removed by the Germans to be placed in a more secure location.
Several eyewitnesses have also said they spotted the room being loaded onto a German ship that was sunk by Soviet submarines.
In 1997 a mosaic from the Amber Room was discovered at an auction in Germany. The fragment is believed to have come from a German soldier who stole it while he was transporting the room from St. Petersburg to Königsberg.
If the room did survive, it is likely that the Nazis hid it in some underground bunker in Germany. However, experts warn that in this environment the amber could easily deteriorate.
“If the Amber Room lies hidden somewhere, it is most probably in some damp mine, which means it is almost certainly in a state of ruin. Even before it was stolen, it was in poor shape, in need of restoration, and the amber pieces were falling out,” says Dr. Alexander Shedrinksy, an amber expert, and professor at New York University.
Nevertheless, dedicated treasure hunters continue to search for this lost artifact.
Rather than searching for this bygone treasure, the Russians decided just to rebuild the entire room in 1979. Using black and white photos of the Amber Room, as well as uncovering the trade secrets necessary to create the multicolored amber of the room, the Russian government completed their recreation of the Amber Room in 2004.
Ironically, when the organization tasked with recreating this landmark ran out of money in 2000, a German company raised the money necessary to finish the project.
So a German-made artifact, given to the Russians, reworked by Russians and Germans, stolen by the German army, is finally recreated by the Russians with the help of a German company. The complicated relationship between these two great nations is embodied in the history of this work of art.
While this new Amber Room can be viewed in St. Petersburg, the original remains lost to history, at least for a while longer.