I love a good conspiracy theory and this one has it all.
Ron Paul, Fox News, neo-Nazis, and fiction writer Brad Meltzer all subscribe to the theory. Russia's spy agency, the FSB, claims the vault is empty and the International Monetary Fund knows it.
It has real world consequences far more serious than whether an alien spacecraft crash landed in Roswell. The US and global financial systems would collapse overnight if it became known that the US gold reserves were figments. Welcome to the Dark Ages.
What happened to it? Many say it was stolen by Nelson Rockefeller, the Jews, Bill Clinton, or space aliens. Others claim it was pissed away over the years to cover the federal debt and balance of trade.
Some claim the vault is empty, that only dust and spider webs remains. Others say the gold was replaced with fake bars made of either lead or tungsten and painted gold.
Where's the Proof?
Some say that the over-the-top security around Fort Knox is proof the vault is empty. That the goal isn't to secure gold but secure the secret. Another proof, they claim, is that the book value of the gold hasn't changed over the years. The first is a classic logical fallacy. The latter ignores the standard accounting practice of listing book value as the original value on acquisition and not adjusting it for the whims of the market. Value is only established when something is bought or sold.
Actually the best argument the theorists have is that nobody has been inside the vault in 37 years. Fort Knox would make one hell of a tourist attraction. People would pay a lot for an admission ticket to view the gold stockpile. It would go a long way to balancing the budget.
What's the Truth?
The government (yeah, like they wouldn't lie) says that Fort Knox holds less than half the federal gold reserves. Some 147 million troy ounces of gold rests in Fort Knox while over 220 million troy ounces is stored in the basement of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
The Fort Knox repository is holding far less gold than it did at its peak (650 million troy ounces during WWII). But some of that extra gold was being held in safe keeping for US allies (like the UK). The rest is either in New York or was used in not at all secret transactions.
What's the Reality?
Who knows? But as I always say, never let the truth in the way of a good story.