Nearly two decades later, the gold-digging investment fraud gets the silver-screen treatment.
It’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre meets Wall Street! How could it not be a movie? That was the husband speaking, lo these many years ago now. Certainly the component parts were all there. For atmospherics: the steam heat of the Indonesian jungle, replete with tigers and cobras and a gator infested river.
Greed? The muscle-bound tactics of some of the largest gold mining companies on the planet would fit that bill, their actions adorned by a cadre of bedazzled brokers and enabling analysts. Corruption? The Suharto regime was rich in the stuff. Intrigue? Surely the surprise helicopter exit of a geologist — a 250-metre plunge into a tropical rainforest — would tweak a viewer’s interest.
There was even a putzy, somewhat shambolic, once-bankrupt stock promoter — yes, straight out of central casting.
And, ultimately, eviscerated investors. All that glistered — the blue sky 200 million ounces of gold — had turned to dust.
“Desperate prospectors have been salting mines since the beginning of the mining industry,” said one of the players of the day. “It’s a terrible fraud. It’s repugnant.”
It’s also a bit shocking to consider that, come March, it will have been two decades since Filipino geologist Mike de Guzman dropped to his death and the Bre-X gold discovery imploded. The largest gold discovery in human history? Worthless. The $6-billion stock valuation? Ditto. The world’s biggest mining scam? Now entered into the history books.
For those of us who lived it, it was a high-octane, crazy-making time. Hollywood is, at last, on the case with the release of Gold, starring Matthew McConaughey.
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