It took the genius of Sir Francis Drake and an army of men to bury the contents of a Spanish Treasure Galleon somewhere in the land Drake called Nova Albion, and the only evidence they left behind was a small brass plaque that claimed the land for England.
It only took one man to unravel the 400-year-old mystery surrounding the treasure’s location and contents and he found it in his own backyard.
Uncovering the Treasure of Sir Francis Drake and the Theft of His Plate of Brass follows the true adventures of Robert Stupack, who buys a house on Greenbrae Ridge in one of America’s wealthiest areas, Marin County, and is told by a neighbor that Sir Francis Drake’s famous “Plate of Brass” was discovered on his street.
While walking along an undeveloped hillside between his property and San Francisco Bay, Stupack finds a weather worn stone carving of an Aztec warrior. When an antiquities dealer positively identifies the alabaster piece as dating from the early 1500s, Stupack instinctively knows that Drake’s fabled treasure is buried somewhere on his property. After reading about Drake’s life, Stupack uses a copy of the “treasure map,” formally known as the Hondius Broadside Map of 1595, aligning its images with key features on his property. His calculated test excavations with a shovel and jackhammer quickly transform his once magnificently landscaped back yard into a disaster area. When his ex-wife and family learn of his activities, they are convinced that he’s lost his mind and have the police drag him off to a psych ward where he’s placed in a straight-jacket and kept in a locked room on a 72-hour hold.
Their efforts do not dissuade him from continuing his quest!
His early excavations, guided by Drake’s clever use of different colored clay, provide important clues as to where the treasure is hidden, prompting Stupack to dig a series of tunnels. However, the various kinds of clay turn out to contain high levels of boron, selenium and arsenic that severely sicken him. Now, wearing layers of clothing to protect him from the toxins, he follows these clay clues, zigzagging downward until he’s 36 feet below ground level. Along the way he finds a cache of Brazilian diamonds; a “missing” Incan artifact, “The Emerald Goddess; a large round stone covered in gold, and an incredible array of precious and semi-precious stones. Numerous times, he narrowly escapes potentially fatal booby-traps that employ quicksand, collapsing rooms and flooding tunnels, all designed by Drake to prevent anyone but him from recovering the treasure.
Two years into his project and exactly 423 years after the date in the Plate of Brass inscription, Stupack discovers the set of missing tools used to create Drake’s artifact. In the 1970s the Plate had been discredited as a fake, but now Stupack knows better. He meets with the Acting Director of the Bancroft Library to inform him that he’s found something that can change that “worthless fake” back into a “priceless artifact.” After metallurgical tests are conducted on the tools, the Bancroft staff suddenly stop responding to Stupack’s calls and emails, and he suspects that something is seriously wrong. His internet sleuthing reveals the probable cause: that same Acting Director was the one responsible for discrediting the Plate back in the ‘70s by misquoting the opinion of the authentication team’s lead scientist.
Twenty-five years later, the Acting Director is a key player in the development of “monitoring software.” Stupack realizes that the software program designed to fight terrorism after 9/11 is being deployed against him, to monitor all of his communications because the tools he’s found represent a “smoking gun” in the Acting Director’s crimes. As Stupack continues his research, mounting evidence indicates that the Acting Director and a number of co-conspirators stole Drake’s Plate of Brass and replaced it with a replica because it was purported to contain a secret code that could reveal the location of the treasure. Stupack also learns of one other man who knew about this crime, whose death certificate shows that arsenic poisoning was a contributing factor in his early demise. Now, at all costs the Acting Director must prevent Stupack’s discovery from reaching the public’s attention because it could implicate him and his co-conspirators in a crime with no Statute of Limitations…Murder!
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A history buff, citizen-scientist, daredevil and lover of the high seas from an early age, Robert L. Stupack also prided himself on his skill with numbers. After graduating from Penn State in 1978, he began a profitable career in the financial sector where he worked for such prestigious firms as Price Waterhouse as an accountant, and LF Rothschild, Unterberg, Towbin as an Institutional Fixed Income salesman in the Bank Service Department. After spending a year and a half as a trainee on the Bond Trading Desk in Manhattan, he moved to San Francisco where he serviced small and medium sized banks throughout the western US. As luck would have it, he was visiting Rothschild’s NY trading floor on Black Friday, October 16, 1987, when the 100+ year-old firm went bankrupt overnight, as depicted in the famous scene from the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street. At age 30 Stupack bought a house on scenic Greenbrae Ridge in Marin County and was thriving in his chosen profession, though soon thereafter he began to feel somewhat restless. At age 44, his life changed radically when he discovered evidence that Sir Francis Drake might have buried plundered treasure under the very property he owned.