Figure of the month: 4,580

News Arnulf Hinkel, financial journalist – 01.04.2019

When Auric Goldfinger, the world-renowned (though fictitious) gold smuggler, decided to break into the gold vault at Fort Knox in the 1964 James Bond adventure of the same name, he pursued a plan that was as simple as it was ingenious. He sought to radioactively contaminate the deposited gold to make it unusable, resulting in his own gold assets to increase in value. In fact, the classic approach – of simply stealing Fort Knox’s gold – would have been a logistical nightmare: to date, some 4,580 tons of gold bullions are stored in Fort Knox.

From army base to largest vault for US gold 

Built in 1862 as Fort Duffield during the American Civil War, the fort did not regain much importance until 1936, when the US Treasury Department established the Bullion Depository for parts of the US gold reserves there. To construct the heavily secured gold vault, 3,200 cubic meters of concrete, 750 tons of reinforcing steel and 670 tons of structural steel were used. The entrance door alone, consisting of steel plates, double-T steel girders and steel cylinders, weighs 20 tons. To this day, Fort Knox is basically synonymous with guaranteed safety. 

Gold ban triggers creation of Bullion Depository in Fort Knox 

Issuing the Executive Order 6102, President Roosevelt limited gold ownership in 1933, resulting in the nationalization of private gold holdings. In return, gold owners were paid the usual market price for their gold assets. The Fort Knox vault was built to hold the enormous amounts of nationalised gold. Today, Fort Knox still houses the largest deposit of US gold reserves, though is not the largest gold depository in the US. This would be the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, home to around 8,000 tons of gold bullions. The gold stored there, however, belongs to a large extent to foreign banks and central banks.

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