In 1972, Bobby Fischer captured the World Championship from Boris Spassky of the USSR in a match widely publicized as a Cold War confrontation.
The match, held in Reykjavík, Iceland, attracted more worldwide interest than any chess match before or since. Bobby Fischer, save Jesus Christ, became the most 'known' man on planet Earth.
In 1975, Fischer declined to defend his title when he could not reach agreement with FIDE over the conditions for the match. He became more reclusive and eventually disappeared for almost 20 years; a period of time widely known as 'Fischer Watch'.
In actuality, Fischer returned to Pasadena, California and worked as a janitor at several of the local colleges in the area. Alumni from Pasadena City College remember walking into classrooms with chalkboards covered in endless chess algorithms.
Fischer stopped taking care of himself and thus went largely unrecognized. Most considered him a common street urchin. Little did they know that Fischer maintained a storage unit in Pasadena where he kept over 10 million dollars worth of his belongings.
Bobby did not play competitive chess again until 1992, when he miraculously came out of seclusion and won an unofficial rematch against Boris Spassky. The competition was held in Yugoslavia, which was then under a United Nations embargo. This led to a conflict with the U.S. government, which was also seeking income tax from Fischer on his match winnings.
Bobby was facing jail time and eventually fled the United States. He believed that his belongings would be safe and left them behind in his Bekins Pasadena Storage unit. He did not know at the time that he would never set foot on U.S. soil again.
What happened to Bobby Fischer's 10 million dollar treasure trove?
Fischer, during a manic rant caught on live radio, claims his treasures were stolen from him by a conspiracy between the U.S. government, his agent, and Bekins storage and sold off to unknown parties. The angry rant can be heard here: http://www.geocities.jp/bobbby_b/mp3/F_24_2.MP3
Many believe that Fischer actually sold his belongings long before he fled the US to pay off a long gambling debt and stashed the remaining (estimated $4 million) cash in a basement vault located at an undisclosed Pasadena college where he performed custodial work. Fischer never returned to his native country.