In “Uncharted,” now in theaters, Nathan Drake (Tom Holland), and his somewhat begrudging new partner Sully (Mark Wahlberg) hop from country to country, looking for the proverbial X that marks the spot of Magellan’s purported lost gold. So, is that treasure actually real?
In most treasure hunt movies, the answer is no. There’s no stash of Free Mason treasure underneath Trinity Church in New York, as “National Treasure” suggested. The faberge eggs that supposedly belonged to Cleopatra, as introduced in “Red Notice,” never existed. But “Uncharted” is a bit different.
Granted, it doesn’t deviate much from the standard treasure hunt plot. Based on the PlayStation and Naughty Dog video games, “Uncharted” sees Nathan Drake and Sully going to a lot of different places, doing a whole lot of stunts along the way, and getting bamboozled by real and fake clues alike.
But in this movie, they are indeed after a treasure that actually exists in the real world…kind of.
The “Uncharted” film largely draws from the fourth game of the video game series: “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.” (It borrows some scenes from other installments in the franchise though, like the cargo plane scene. That comes from the third game).
In reality, no, Ferdinand Magellan never went on a hunt for or found $5 billion worth of gold. He did, as the movie said, go on a journey to circumnavigate the globe. He wasn’t looking for treasure though; he simply wanted to establish trade routes.
“Uncharted” is also accurate in pointing out that Magellan never actually made it all the way around; he died on the journey. But that’s mostly where the accuracies stop. From there, everything gets a bit tangential.
In “Uncharted 4,” the Drakes and Sully are actually on the hunt for the treasure of Henry Avery, a pirate. And he was in fact a real guy.
Henry Avery went by many names during his time, but he is widely regarded as “The King of Pirates” (sorry, Keira Knightley). He’s one of the few pirate captains in history to ever get away with his treasure — most others were killed or arrested.
In his most famous raid, back in September of 1695, Avery’s crew joined forces with other pirate ships, and came away with roughly £600,000 in precious metals and jewels. That comes out to just over $127 million in 2022. Sadly, nowhere near the $5 billion of Magellan’s as seen in “Uncharted.”
Several members of Avery’s crew were eventually arrested, but the captain himself got away, and disappeared from all public records in 1696. Some say he might’ve changed his name, retired, and lived off the money he stole. No one knows for sure.
Henry Avery is believed to have died sometime between 1699 and 1714 — and his treasure was never found.
So yes, the treasure of “Uncharted” is…kind of…real. It just never belonged to Magellan, and was worth far less. But for what it is worth, if any adventurers out there are inspired to start hunting after this film, Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg want their credit.
“Mark and I are secretly hoping that someone will find it, and because we made that film, we will be entitled to a certain percentage,” Holland joked to BBC Radio 1. They would consider it not a finder’s fee, but more so “just a little ‘thanks for the idea’ kind of thing.”