Getting to the bottom of the Donskoii mystery: is the Russian shipwreck really worth £100 billion?

The claims were unbelievable; almost too good to be true. If their estimates were correct, a South Korean salvage firm was sitting on one of the most valuable shipwrecks ever, with a whopping haul of gold bars and coins worth a little over £100 billion.

The Shinil Group claimed on Wednesday to have found the lost Dmitri Donskoii, a Russian warship scuttled by her crew in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. The ship, it was said, was carrying the funds of Russia’s Second Pacific Squadron and  went down with 5,500 boxes of gold bars and 200 tons of coins still in its holds to stop the Japanese seizing it.

The Shinil Group estimates the gold would have a value today of £101.3 billion and has promised…