The Washington Post this morning, citing U.S. Treasury officials, reports that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi holds about $6.5 billion in gold in his country.
This made me want to play with a calculator. The current price of gold is about $1,441 an ounce. A gold treasure worth $6.5 billion suggests Gaddafi holds something in the neighborhood of 4,510,756 ounces of gold at current prices–or 281,922 pounds of gold [See update below]. By contrast, the Statue of Liberty weighs about 450,000 pounds, in copper and steel. (For context, the U.S. has much more gold in its vaults; the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox currently holds 143.7 million ounces of gold.)
The standard gold bar held by central banks is the 400-oz. good delivery bar. If Gaddafi kept his gold in standard bars, he would have about 11,276 gold bars.
The standard 400-oz. bar has the following dimensions: 7 inches x 3 and 5/8 inches x 1 and 3/4 inches. If you laid all of Gaddafi’s hypothetical gold bars end to end, they would stretch about 6,578 feet, or about 1.25 miles. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is about 1.7 miles long.
I can imagine the ads now if Gaddafi holds onto power. Glenn Beck cuts to commercial, and there is G. Gordon Liddy walking amid the ruins of Gaddafi’s palace in Tripoli: “When the end appeared near, General Gaddafi chose gold, and you should too. Call Rosland Capital today.”
UPDATE: The calculations above use standard ounces, but as commenter kbanginmotown points out, gold is usually measured in troy ounces, which are about 10 percent larger than the ounces we use to measure the contents of a soda can. Therefore, my calculations above are off. See more here.
The corrected numbers: At 14.5833333 troy ounces per regular pound, Gaddafi would have about 309,309 pounds of gold, not 281,922 pounds.