Artist: Patrick Hamilton
August 2 – September 20, 2014
Heinrich Lanz AG dates back to 1859, when it was founded by Heinrich Lanz (1838-1905) in Germany. The original heavy machinery factory remained operational until slightly after World War II, when it was acquired by John Deere. In 1960, the company’s name was changed from Heinrich Lanz AG Mannheim to John Deere-Lanz AG. Shortly thereafter, the word Lanz was also dropped from its name.
According to a myth popular throughout southern Chile, a group of Nazis hid gold in Lanz tractor parts as the allied forces bore down on Germany. These gold- laced components were then shipped to Chile and elsewhere in South America.
For the past several years, stories have abounded of Germans traveling around Chile and buying 1945 Lanz tractors, better known as the Lanz Bull- dog. It is estimated that the quantity of gold melted into the parts of each one of these machines is about 2 kilograms. After World War II, the ounce of gold was pegged at 35 US dollars. At present, an ounce is worth more than 1500 US dollars. This explains the increased interest in the Lanz tractors and the large sums of money paid for each tractor.
More than 1000 Lanz Bulldogs have been bought in Chile and shipped back to Germany. The best-known buyers are Thomas Tisch and his brother, who have paid as much as 15,000 US dollars for tractors that would otherwise be junked.
Speculation about “Nazi gold” is not limited to Chile’s borders. It is said that the Vatican received some of this illicit treasure as compensation for helping some Nazis escape to remote locations in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Other stories suggest different destinies for the Nazi gold: deposited in Swiss bank accounts, sunk below the waters of Austria’s Lake Toplitz, hidden in Germany or placed in submarines with a destination unknown.