New York City’s streets may not be paved with gold as once promised, but if you look closely, you may find some hidden bling.
A gold bar at the Battery, a bauble near the parachute jump in Coney Island, an ounce of gold in a Queens lamppost – all part of a scavenger hunt orchestrated by a Midtown jeweler.
Two hundred prizes, gold coins or bars and jewelry, worth more than $100,000 were scattered across the five boroughs by employees of TraxNYC and some are still out there.
The gem geocaching was done as a way for the Diamond District shop to honor the owner’s late grandmother and drum up business.
“She was a great person and I wanted to do something special to make me feel she was honored in the proper way,” said store owner Maksud Agadjani. “So I gave away $101,000 worth of gold and jewelry.”
This wasn’t the first time Agadjani, 36, who had a small role in Adam Sandler’s “Uncut Gems,” has played this game of high-priced hide and seek. He’s done it in other cities and posted the drops on Instagram, each time he said, people wanted to know when he was going to do it in New York.
He enlisted his staff to stow the valuables in mailboxes and bushes, at bus stops and under rocks, then they gave out clues on Instagram. People quickly recognized hiding spots in their neighborhoods.
“I hid an ounce of gold in a lamppost in Rego Park but you’d only find it if you recognized the graffiti on it,” Agadjani recalled. Within 30 minutes it was gone, he said.
Store employee Mickey Bell, who was born and raised on the Upper East Side, hid most of his pieces there but also went to East Harlem and Randall’s Island, where he stashed a packet under a rock beneath an abutment for the Hell Gate Bridge.
“I thought someone who runs there would find it but I did think it would last longer,” he said. “It was the second one of mine found.”
The promise of treasure and urban adventure sent Kit Vassina and her boyfriend, Eric Dolny out on the hunt.
“I got into my competitive zone,” Vassina, 31, said. When she recognized one site as South Cove Park at the Battery, the pair raced over and searched in the rocks.
They found a gold bar. “It was like being in a video game but in real life,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the experience.”