U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin paid a rare official visit to Fort Knox to check out the nation’s gold stash on Monday.
“I assume the gold is still there,” the former Hollywood producer quipped to an audience in Louisville, Kentucky, 40 miles (64 km) north of the U.S. Bullion Depository. “It would really be quite a movie if we walked in and there was no gold.” After the visit, he playfully reassured Americans the treasure was still secure.
“Glad gold is safe!” he wrote in a post on Twitter.
Fort Knox has been seared into the public imagination since the 1964 James Bond movie “Goldfinger,” in which the British spy, played by Sean Connery, foiled a plot to contaminate the nation’s bullion.
Mnuchin said that he would be only the third secretary of the Treasury to go inside the vault since it was created in 1936 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“The last time anybody went in to see the gold, other than the Fort Knox people, was in 1974 when there was a congressional visit. And the last time it was counted was actually in 1953.”
Mnuchin told a group of Louisville business leaders earlier in the day it was important for him to see the gold to attest that “it is part of our national assets.”
The depository holds more than 147 million ounces of gold, which puts its market value at more than $186 billion.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was part of a delegation of Kentucky politicians allowed inside the United States Bullion Depository, said that the idea of visiting the vault “just kind of came up as a result of a casual conversation.” He declined to say much about the visit because of security concerns. But Governor Bevin, in an interview on WHAS radio, divulged a few more details. He described the process to get in and out of the facility as being time-consuming, and said that officials had to break one of the vault seals to give them access.
“All I will say is that it is freakishly well secured,” he said. “The gold is safe.”
Will this be enough to reassure Americans about the existence of their gold reserves?