Watergate: New Book Series Explores Testimony and Connection with an Ancient, Buried Treasure

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According to co-authors John Clarence and Tom Whittle, the cast of characters involved in the illegal removal of an ancient treasure from a remote site named Victorio Peak included Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.

Pulitzer Prize Journalist Jack Anderson

Anderson alleged a man representing a “consortium” of businessmen met with F. Lee Bailey and agreed to deliver the gold to the government. Bailey was given a 3½ inch bar, which the Treasury later admitted was 60% gold.

John Clarence and Tom Whittle, co-authors of The Gold House trilogy, say that a 1981 article in The Investigator magazine, published by American newspaper columnist Jack Anderson, may have been the first published source to identify the role of President Lyndon Johnson in a multibillion-dollar gold theft. The article, authored by Whittle, was entitled “The Treasure of Victorio Peak.” Whittle’s sources claimed that Johnson showed a burning interest in the treasure—discovered in New Mexico in 1937 by “Doc” and Ova Noss—and had attempted to recover it. However, Clarence contends, "Richard Nixon was involved to a point we hear about it in the Watergate scandal."

Anderson, a nationally syndicated columnist and once the nation’s most feared reporters, was featured on the cover of Time as a “Supersnoop,” and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1972. Whittle spent six months in 1981 probing the Victorio Peak story as a freelancer for Anderson’s magazine, during which time he was in touch via phone with Anderson, keeping him abreast of highlights of the investigation. Anderson's work gave much reason for many like John Clarence to raise an eyebrow about a plausible connection between the Victorio Peak treasure and government involvement.

Clarence said, “My interest in an article by Jack Anderson in the ‘Washington Merry-Go-Round’ spiked when I learned that Mr. Whittle had worked with Anderson on the Victorio Peak story. A trip to Los Angeles to meet with Mr. Whittle resulted in our co-authoring The Gold House trilogy.” According to Clarence, the June 2, 1973, Washington Post “Merry-Go-Round” column referred to F. Lee Bailey and the government’s handling of the Victorio Peak gold, entitled “U.S. Ponders Gold Treasure Claim.”

According to Anderson, a man representing a “consortium” of businessmen met with Bailey and agreed to deliver the gold to the government, pay the taxes, and “sell the rest for their own profit.” The consortium also agreed that if they could not establish a valid claim, they would relinquish the treasure trove. Anderson also alleged Bailey was given a 3½ inch bar, which the Treasury Department later admitted was 60% gold. Soon afterward, a representative from the Treasury returned the bar to Bailey, and, according to Anderson’s report, expressed in an accompanying letter that the Treasury had “no interest in proceeding further with the matter.”

Clarence said, “The controversy over the Noss gold treasure gained a worldwide audience on June 25, 1973, when John Dean, Nixon’s White House counsel, told the Senate Watergate Committee that White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and former Attorney General John Mitchell had discussed a matter involving Bailey.” Dean stated under oath that “Mr. Bailey had a client who had an enormous amount of gold in his possession.” Dean also claimed that Bailey had said the gold could be turned over to the government provided his clients would not be prosecuted for “holding the gold.” The next day, the Secret Service agent who had returned the gold bar to Bailey’s Washington office revisited the office and confiscated it.

According to John Clarence and Tom Whittle, documents presented in The Gold House trilogy show that the Treasury Department held the gold “in evidence against F. Lee Bailey” and considered it to be “contraband.” Clarence claimed the intent was to prosecute Bailey for violation of the Gold Reserve Act. “For the next several months newspapers worldwide followed the story,” Clarence said. “Then, on Sunday, November 25, 1973, 36.5 tons of gold were stolen from the Noss treasure worth more than one billion dollars at July 2013 prices,” Clarence asserted; he also noted that “The Gold House trilogy presents documents and eyewitness accounts to certain activities before the 1973 gold theft occurred that incriminate Richard Nixon in that particular theft.”

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