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[TIDBITS] The Most Gold Ever Paid Out in Ransom


#1

There’s a story, and I may not have this right as I’m telling it
from memory, about J.Paul Getty and his kidnaped grandson. The
way I remember it, the child was kidnaped and held for ransom.
Pay up the kidnappers said, or we cut off his ear and send it to
you. Getty refused. Kidnappers sent Getty the ear in the mail.
Getty still refused. Eventually, the child was freed, minus one
ear, and Getty not a penny poorer.

Yes, well, not all have had this stoicism. Take for instance,
Atahualpa, Incan king. The year is 1531. Francisco Pizzaro,
murderous Spanish invader, sets out to conquer Peru with 180
soldiers. He reaches the city of Cajamarca. Atahualpa doesn’t
even blink. What’s to fear? A few soldiers? Bah. A flea in the
ointment at worst. Besides, Atahualpa considered himself divine.
And how can one hurt a god, one might ask? I’ll tell you folks
how.

Atahualpa appears before the Spanish troops in all his splendor.
He’s surrounded by his retinue of thousands, all unarmed. Hey,
since when does god need a spear? Right? Atahualpa sits on a
throne atop a sedan which is carried through the streets. The
throne is solid gold. Its value can not be calculated. There’s
gold and silver adornments. Atahualpa himself is wearing an
emerald necklace of inestimable worth. He gazes with paternal
dignity upon his people. Pizzaro sends him a message. He has two
requests.

One…convert to Christianity. Two…hand your country over to
Charles I, king of Spain. Atahualpa stares with disdain. Hey,
Bubba. Are you kidding or what? I’ll show you kidding, says
Pizzaro. Well, maybe not those exact words. In one fell swoop, he
kills off 2000 of Atahualpa’s men. Bing bang, it’s over.
Atahualpa, the divine king, is prisoner.

So now we get to the ransom part. Atahualpa offers a deal. He
takes Pizzaro to a room. It’s 20 feet long; it’s 16 feet wide;
it’s 8 feet high. I’ll stuff it with gold to the ceiling
Atahualpa says. And then, picture this folks, the entire Peruvian
nation become gold porters. They scour the country, with some
transports spending months traveling through the mountains. Save
Atahualpa, our divine king, at all costs. They brought their
jewelry, they brought sculptures from temples, they brought
religious bowls and liturgical vessels, all of gold.

After nine months, the room is almost full. Pizzaro weighs the
gold. 16 tons of it. Close enough, thinks Pizzaro. And he kills
Atahualpa. Hangs him high and grabs the ransom and runs. 16 tons
of gold folks. 16 tons, and what do you get? Another day older
and deeper in dept. Yeah, well, not Pizzaro. Alas and alack, the
gold never reaches Spain. Honesty among thieves and all that
tripe. Pizzaro is stripped clean.

Now, what is all that gold worth in today’s market? Anyone want
to figure that one out for me?

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.

Take care,
Benjamin Mark

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