(CBS) – The man behind the Portillo’s restaurant chain thinks he may have discovered a golden piece of history.
Dick Portillo never imagined a trip to Papua New Guinea would turn into a possible fortune.
CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar explains how a gold tooth may link the restaurant owner to a World War II admiral.
Inside a pill bottle normally kept in a safe, Portillo doesn’t keep a secret restaurant recipe.
“What if in my hands I’m holding Yamamoto’s tooth?” he asks.
The man behind the Portillo’s empire safeguards a tiny gold tooth that possibly belongs to Japanese naval commander Isoroku Yamamoto..
“I knew Yamamto’s crash site was somewhere in the jungle,” he says.
With that knowledge, the Marine and history buff traveled to Papua New Guinea. There rests the wreckage of the commander’s plane, shot down by U.S. troops. Yamamoto is the leader known for orchestrating the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Portillo says he and others endured “bugs humidity, mud all kinds of creatures crawling around” to see the plane for themselves.
One of Portillo’s friends found the gold tooth in the mud at the accident site. But the locals demanded it back.
“I knew immediately that I wanted to get that tooth,” he says.
Fourteen thousand dollars later, Portillo got the tooth back. Now, he is on a mission to authenticate the gold treasure.
He won’t stop until he gets an answer.
“That’s my personality,” he says.