Producers are hoping Skyfall, the 23rd instalment of the James Bond movies, turns into box office gold when it opens. But one of the franchise's most-loved titles featured the shiny metal in a much more overt way.

Few villains have had as lasting a legacy as Auric Goldfinger, the Swiss-born gold bug whose obsession with the precious metal compelled him to try to break into the U.S. government's entire cache of it in Fort Knox.

In the movie, Auric Goldfinger's plan is to detonate a nuclear device inside Fort Knox, where America kept $15 billion worth of gold. (With the run-up in gold prices since then, that gold would be worth $765 billion today, in 1964 dollars.)

The nuclear fallout would have rendered America's gold unusable, so the story goes, thereby increasing the value of Goldfinger's stake.

Riches mistaken, not assured

Just how much was Goldfinger worth? Not as much as you'd think, by super villain standards. In the movie Goldfinger says his personal stash is 1.5 metric tonnes of gold. An impressive-sounding amount, until you do the math.

Goldfinger's 1.5 metric tonnes of gold works out to 48,225 troy ounces. Gold has been on a multi-year bull run of late, trading at an all-time high of $1,900 an ounce in August 2011.

At the current spot gold price of $1,792 an ounce, it would be worth $86.4 million today. But in 1964, gold wasn't nearly that valuable.

An ounce of gold was worth about $35.10 an ounce, on average, in 1964, so Goldfinger's stake was worth about $1.7 million at the time the movie was released. With inflation, that's about $12.5 million in today's dollars.

A tidy sum to be sure, but not exactly enough to place one in the upper stratosphere of super villainy.

The moral? Crime doesn't apparently pay.