Leave it to local puppeteers, media makers and general creatives behind Glove and Boots and We Lost Our Gold to come up with a treasure map too outlandish for their fans to decipher and too good not to eventually dig up themselves. Only, they didn’t keep the money they buried, they donated it to Hurricane Sandy victims.
Vincent Bova and Damien Eckhardt-Jacobi buried $10,000 in one-dollar coins from their own savings in a treasure chest as a promotional stunt for their puppeteering projects in 2009. They released videos with puppet pirates and a ninja revealing details of the hiding place. After no one claimed the treasure, Bova and Eckhardt-Jacobi decided to donate it to Sandy victims in the Rockaways.
On their We Lost Our Gold site, the duo proclaim their love for the city. It’s no wonder they wanted to give their booty away. They write:
Oh, and PLEASE don’t just start digging all over NYC. We love this city, and don’t want unnecessary holes popping up everywhere. When you’ve found the treasure, you’ll know it.
The site gained thousands of eager visitors, but no one was able to figure out the location of the goods. The too-complicated clues included mentions of a “flying birdie,” which in puppet-pirate speak is actually a reference to the planes flying overhead from John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“We definitely didn’t make it easy,” Bova said to the New York Times. “I had the feeling it would take time for somebody to find it, and from what I’ve seen on the internet, people got close.”
Bova and Eckhardt-Jacobi called in their friend, music man for the videos and voice of the pirate parrot, Jim Trewell, to help them dig. Turns out, the treasure was buried near Floyd Bennett Field, just across the bridge from the some of the hardest hit areas in the Rockaways.
When the three arrived at the spot the treasure was last seen, they realized that the hurricane had changed the landscape. The trees that led the way to the treasure were gone and the trails had washed away. The treasure that so many others had failed to find could have been lost forever.
Eventually, the group found the skull and crossbones they had nailed to a tree three years ago. They took the coins in their backpacks and brought them to Lava Girl Surf, a surf school located in the Rockaways that became a makeshift disaster relief center after the storm.
Davina Greene, a staffer at the school, was overjoyed to hear of the donation. Then, according to Bova, after he told her what the donation was really, “She started laughing hysterically.”
The work of the puppeteers has not gone unnoticed. Their Glove and Boots site has been nominated for a Webby Award, they’ve been covered in numerous publications and their fans have grown significantly. Maybe, they’ll have to have another, even more extravagant promotional stunt, but maybe something with easier to understand clues.