Thursday, October 21, 2010

Treasure in the Superstition Mountains

Yea, yea, I can hear you saying it, “of course there’s treasure in the Superstition Mountains, everybody knows that”. Well, maybe and maybe not. This is a treasure of a different kind that is sure to peak the interest of more than one treasure hunter.

The Superstition Mountains of Arizona are known for their gold and silver, along with legends like the Lost Dutchman Mine and the Peralta Stones but did you know they also had millions of dollars of art work in them?

See, you can learn something new!

There was a famous painter by the name of Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia that, besides being famous for his artwork, was also well known for his protest against the IRS and its inheritance tax. In 1976 Mr. DeGrazia took more than 100 of his paintings out into the Superstition Mountains near Angel Springs and with witnesses, set them on fire and let them burn to ashes because he didn’t want his kids to have to pay inheritance tax on them. It seems the good folks at the IRS were saying his paintings were worth millions and therefore his children would have to pay tax on them when Ted died. Good Ole Uncle Sam, trying to screw you even in death!

As a side note, I personally agree with Mr. DeGrazia’s stand against the IRS. You never would have guessed that one, huh? I’m not sure I would have burned a few million dollars in paintings but that brings us to the real reason for this article. What he did next is more in line with my way of thinking.

Even though he burned over 100 paintings in the Superstition Mountains he also hid a few as well. During a separate trip into the Superstition Mountains Mr. DeGrazia and his friend Bob Ward buried eighteen paintings. Each painting was rolled and placed in a watertight tube with both ends sealed and then they bundled the tubes into groups of three. After that they buried the groups of tubes in six separate spots, all within the same small area.

A pact was made between Ted DeGrazia and Bob Ward which required Bob Ward to draw a map to the paintings but not retrieve the paintings himself. If we are to believe Mr. Ward, he held true to his word and never went back for the paintings. Ted DeGrazia instructed his friend to draw the map, keeping it until DeGrazia’s death and then sell the map to DeGrazia’s wife so she could in turn sell copies of the map to anyone wanting to search for the paintings. Mr. DeGrazia felt that if his wife was the one selling the map then more people would believe that he really did bury the paintings. Ted DeGrazia died in 1982 and his wife never got a copy of the map. Mr. Ward states that she was in ill health at the time and died before he could get the map to her.

Bob Ward held onto the coded map until 1990 when he decided to release it to the public. I have reprinted the map with this article for any of our intrepid hunters that might find themselves wondering in the Superstition Mountains sometime. Just remember to wonder safely and not aimlessly.

Also, in case you are wondering why you would bother looking for these, the hidden paintings are said to have a collectors value of one million dollars each!

Through the years there have also been rumors saying that while burning the paintings near Angel Springs, Mr. DeGrazia also hid a few more in the same area. There haven’t been any maps found that lead to the alleged second stash of paintings and as far as I can tell no known missing pieces of artwork have ever turned up.

What’s the best thing about finding eighteen million dollars worth of paintings in the mountains? Well, besides the 18 million dollars? They would be nice and light to carry out!

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

This is very interesting to me. I have met DeGrazia's wife and my family has worked closely with her {before she passed} and their gallery in Tucson {years after her passing}. Where else can I get more information on this? You can bet I'll be asking my family about it. It is very interesting :).

Apache Junction Arizona said...

I would love to find one of these paintings, it would be a lot more easy to carry out than the gold...