The Lost Treasure of Olivier Levasseur
Hold onto your booties!
Legend tells of a pirate named Olivier Levasseur who, while standing on the scaffold to be hanged, threw a necklace containing a 17-line cryptogram into the crowd while exclaiming:
“Find my treasure, he who can!”
The necklace has been lost, but the cryptogram has lived on. Treasure hunters have since tried to decode it. Some think they may have succeeded, pointing to an island nation where it might be found...
But first here’s the answer to Wednesday’s riddles:
A cowboy rides into town on Friday. He stays 3 days. Then he leaves on Friday.
How did he do it?
Answer: The horse’s name was Friday.
What can travel around the world while staying in a corner?
Answer: A stamp.
Hope you could get them! Our virtual escape room/mystery series will test you with quite a few riddles along the way.… Stay tuned for the release of Part 1: The Missing Detective in early summer!
But back to regular programming...let’s chat about pirates and treasure and cryptograms.
Pirate of the Caribbean
Olivier Levasseur was born to a wealthy family in Calais at the end of the 17th century. He received a hoity toity education and then became a naval officer.
He had his first taste of combat at the start of the 18th century, on board La Reine des Indes (The Indian Queen). At that time, Levasseur was operating in the Caribbean Sea as a privateer in the service of a French king embroiled in the War of the Spanish Succession.
When the conflict ended in 1714, Versailles no longer needed its privateers. However, Levasseur wasn’t interested in going back home to mainland France.
With a scar across one eye and a penchant for attacking quickly, Levasseur built up a healthy reputation as a pirate. His nickname was apparently La Buse (“The Buzzard”), because he would swoop down with the speed of a bird of prey. Not bad, Levasseur, not bad.
Gimme the Loot, Gimme the Loot
After a few more years of piracy, which included joining forces with an English pirate named John Taylor, Levasseur made the most lucrative capture of his pirating career: the Nossa Senhora do Cabo.
The Nossa Senhora do Cabo was an 800-ton Portuguese flagship with 72 cannons, moored in Saint-Denis harbour after suffering serious damage.
On board was the Count of Ericeira, Viceroy of Portuguese India, and its hold had ~10 years of accumulated treasures - gold, diamonds, jewellery, spices, cloth, fine wood and more.
Altogether, the ship’s loot is estimated at over 4 billion euros (or ~4.8 billion USD or like 3 bitcoins probably).
A death sentence and a secret map
In 1729, despite trying to lay low at the end of a nice little piracy career, Levasseur was captured. He was sentenced to a death by hanging.
But his loot was never located.
On the day of his execution, at the gallows, with the rope around his neck, he gave the world a mystery.
As legend goes, he threw a mysterious cryptogram to the crowd while shouting:
“Find my treasure, he who can!”
Even now, many people try to decipher the document wanting to get their hands on Levasseur’s treasure: from Réunion to Seychelles, from Mauritius to Rodrigues right up to Juan de Nova, every island in the Indian Ocean is in play.
Take a deep dive into the ocean depths with these treasure hunters
Check out these stories on some of the folks currently searching for this thing:
American Robert Graf has been looking for quite awhile
John Cruise-Wilkins is a second-generation treasure hunter searching in the Seychelles
-Andy & Mark
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