Americana: Lost or Stolen?

In December, the Treasury Department made a startling announcement:

more than $1 million worth of gold had disappeared from the U.S. Assay Office, a fortress-like building in lower Manhattan where some 2 million oz. of gold are refined every year. Treasury officials figured that the gold rush took place some time between 1973 and 1977 but could not be more specific because of "significant irregularities" in the office's accounting procedures.

For months, federal agents questioned the office's 85 employees and combed the building for clues. They determined that much of the missing gold might have been lost during the refining process—some of...

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