This website tracks the success of Richard Gay, former CIA operative, in cracking the first cipher systems (K1, K2, K3) of the CIA courtyard cryptogram KRYPTOS; and his analysis of the unbroken final system (K4).  Unable to visit CIA last fall after hip surgery, he hopes to "uncover" on-site the final solution to K4 this spring.



Since publication of the Da Vinci Code interest in Kryptos has soared. The Kryptos-related coordinates hidden in the book's jacket, plus Doubleday's online challenge to Uncover the Code, and the hint that Kryptos will somehow feature in Dan Brown's next novel, have made Kryptos into a growth industry. Last Spring I received a series of emails seeking information on my progress with Kryptos from a party who had acquired a copy of an article on Kryptos that I had written in May 1999 titled "A Courtyard Interlude" which was featured in the Fall 2002 issue of CIRA (see below). The article recounted my progress in the spring of 1997 cracking into and partially solving two of Kryptos three cryptographic systems. The article disclosed my original notations regarding possible solutions to the unbroken Kryptos cipher system, and revealed irregularities I had discovered in Kryptos inscriptions which may be clues for this final unsolved cryptogram.

A Courtyard Interlude as it appeared in CIRA, the newsletter of the CIA Retirees Association.

Reference to my1997 Kryptos breakthrough first appeared as a footnote in the Spring 1998 PHOENICIAN the newsletter of the PHOENIX SOCIETY the NSA equivalent of CIRA. As indicated in a letter published in the Fall 1999 PHOENICIAN, I was unable for lack of time to break out a complete plaintext decryption to the first (polyalphabetic) and the second (transposition) systems, but with pencil and graph paper, I was the first known to break into these two systems, and my April 1997 success jump-started a revival of interest at the Agency. It has been reported that two NSA's had broken Kryptos as early as 1992, but if this is the case it was never reported to CIA nor to the NSA Phoenix Society of which I am a member. 

The original "A Courtyard Interlude" article, was written back in May 1999 and first appeared in the March 2000 issue of PERISCOPE the newsletter of AFIO the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. It has most recently appeared in the Fall 2005 issue of CRYPTOLOG, the newsletter of the U.S. Navy Cryptologic Veterans Association (NCVA), and is updated in the Winter 2005-6 issue of CIRA, and the Winter 2005-6 issue of the PHOENICIAN. The article was not classified, but these newsletters are not distributed to the general public and my 1997 breakthrough on Kryptos has remained in the shadows. However, a recent Maine newspaper article was picked up by the AP wire, and I was interviewed by phone and e-mail for an article in the Sunday London Times of January 01, 2006, titled "Codebreakers Crack the DaVinci Sequel Mystery." In response to the interview and the article, I submitted a letter to the editor on January 01, 2006.

As a contributor to M.E.Sharpe's new 2-volume Encyclopedia of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, I was interviewed by a May 2005 Maine periodical and a July 2005 Maine newspaper. One of the encyclopedia pieces I contributed was on a legendary CIA operative named Tony Po, aka Anthony Poshepny. I had first written about Tony for the Summer 2003 CIRA magazine, which led one interviewer to the Fall 2002 article on Kryptos.

July 2005 News Article on new Encyclopedia of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.

July 13, 2005 Letter to the Editor in response to the above article.


Five years ago Dan Brown’s publisher had hinted that a Da Vinci Code sequel, titled The Solomon Key, would be released within months. During that time I had connected a few dots, made some plot predictions, and wrote to Dan Brown offering advice from an ex-CIA spook. I received no reply from either Dan or his publisher, but The Solomon Key was scratched. Its publication was cancelled.

 Dan Brown’s new book The Lost Symbol is due out in September, and on July 7th its cover was displayed on the internet by the publisher. Is it possible that history could repeat itself?  That plots of The Lost Symbol could be predicted and made public, causing this new Di Vinci Code sequel to be delayed, or perhaps cancelled like the first? Following is extracted from articles I submitted to two Maine newspapers in early July 2009, with a copy to Doubleday publishers, two months before the scheduled publication of The Lost Symbol.


Dick Gay's predictions July 2009

“When I was with CIA under cover overseas we had to be fluent in the language of the places we were sent, from Bangkok to Bucharest, from Malaga to Moscow, pretty much like Jason Bourne in the Bourne Supremacy, but without the chase scenes. Since retirement from CIA, besides running a small Bed & Breakfast in Blue Hill I have instructed foreign languages at COA, Husson, and MMA, and besides foreign languages, one of my hobbies is cryptology—ciphers and codes. 

“With the demise of The Solomon Key there is perhaps still reason to follow the same dots into the September release of Dan Brown’s next novel. Here are some of the dots I had connected, and predictions which may apply to The Lost Symbol:

1. The plot would involve the CIA, since disguised reference to statuary at CIA headquarters was concealed in the Da Vinci Code dust cover design. 

2. There may be extracts from the Key of Solomon, a medieval book of magic, originally attributed to King Solomon, with magic circles and symbols, including the Star of David.  

3. Given the role of Freemasonry in Brown’s prior novels, the book would probably contain Masonic symbols related to the building of King Solomon’s temple. Brown was seen surveying Masonic buildings, and architecture in the DC area.

4. There may be a Yale University connection. A Masonic Lodge is named for the spy Nathan Hale, and his statue outside the CIA headquarters building is a replica of one on the Yale campus.

5. There may be a Yale secret society Skull and Bones role in the plot, by way of Yale alumnus, CIA’s notorious James Angleton, about whom the film The Good Shepherd was centered. George H.W. Bush, for whom The CIA hqs building is named, was also a Yale Bonesman.

6. Given the Skull and Bones symbolism, the Masonic order of Knights Templar may play a continuing role in Brown’s historic narrative, perhaps with a revisit to the Illuminati.

7. Since Dan Brown was seen scoping out symbols carved on the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, it is a good guess that some connection between Freemasonry and Mormonism may play a role in The Lost Symbol.  

“My interest goes back to the Spring of 1957 at the University of Maine. With a degree in French, Spanish, and Russian, and a minor in European History, I was recruited on the Orono campus by NSA, which in those days meant No Such Agency. At the super secret National Security Language School at NSA headquarters located in Maryland I learned Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Laotian. These led to several cognate languages, like Shan of northeast Burma, and T’ai Daeng of Yunan provonce in Southwest China. With exposure to Acadian French from living nine years in northern Maine, and Quebec French from studies at L’Université Laval in Quebec City, I could handle African French dialects from Dakar to Brazzaville.

“The chief of cryptanalysis at NSA was a renowned WWII code breaker named Solomon Kullback. Given Dan Brown’s fixation on codes, it seemed plausible that NSA, aka The Puzzle Palace, might also be featured in The Solomon Key, along with CIA. Solomon “Sully” Kullback, retired from NSA in 1962, later to teach math at George Washington University in DC. In 1960 I was recruited by CIA as a covert operative overseas in the Directorate of Operations, aka the Clandestine Service. I was fluent in French, Spanish, and Russian, conversant in Italian and Portuguese, and could get by in Romanian. The language spoken in Bucharest is a Latin derivitavive, not so different from Italian.

“During a visit to my Langley alma mater in 1997, I encountered the statuary, codenamed Kryptos, in the CIA inner courtyard. See  Built of half-inch copper plate, 8ft x 12ft in size, it represents an ancient scroll. The scroll is in code, encrypted, thus the codename Kryptos. The Kryptos geographic grid location, hidden by the publisher in mirror-writing on the Da Vinci Code book’s cover, pointed surreptitiously to the book’s sequel. Would Dan Brown abandon this CIA Kryptos connection in his revised novel The Lost Symbol?

“The encoded Kryptos scroll contains two key words “Palimpsest” and “Abscissa.” These could have played a role in The Solomon Key, and may still play a role in The Lost Symbol. Part of the enciphered Kryptos scroll remains unbroken. In recent attempts at cryptanalysis, using methods learned at NSA more than fifty years ago, I discovered that the word “Palimpsest” has a spatial application to deciphering the Kryptos scroll, and the word “Abscissa” has a spatial application to plotting points on the Kryptos cipher matrix! Could these Kryptos keys, along with certain Masonic symbols, such as the square and compass, which is displayed on the book’s cover, also be used to plot points on a layout plan of DC, for Robert Langdon’s search?  Could a symbol, such as the keystone, which in York Rite tradition was found lost among the rubble of the Solomon temple, be the lost symbol itself?  It’s a stretch, but to deepen the mystery, the geographic grid from the Kryptos scroll that was hidden in the Da Vinci Code cover design, contains a typo error in its north-latitude grid, which places it miles south of the intended site on the CIA campus.

“The book cover displayed on the Random House website on July 7, 2009 showed a square and compass superimposed over the capitol dome in Washington. Now curiously this book cover has since been shifted to one on which the square and compass is replaced by the seal of the Masonic Scottish Rite. Scottish Rite symbols include the double-headed eagle, and the number 33. Could it be that Dan Brown, while trashing the York Rite (e.g., Knights Templar, etc) will perhaps favor the Scottish Rite by using the number “33” in his plot, a number which represents that society’s highest attainment, the 33rd degree? Scottish Rite architecture tends toward the Egyptian, witness the two imposing Sphinx guarding the entrance to the temple in DC. The number 33 figures in the temple’s street address 1733, and in its architectural measurements, including height of the great columns etc.   If Robert Langdon's search takes him into the national Scottish Rite temple in Washington D.C., he may either solve part of his D.C. dilemma or may become more confused. In the Masonic lodge ritual "facing east" in this temple, due to its facade position on 16th Street, is west.  Geographic west is symbolic east! 

“Could the reason for Langdon’s frantic 12-hour pursuit be a terrorist WMD device, like a polonium-210 dirty bomb about to go boom, or possibly a lethal plant spore about to go bloom?  The Capitol building looms quite prominently on both Lost Symbol book covers! And the National Arboretum is nearby.  Are any of these predictions accurate? Time will tell.  The Lost Symbol comes out September 15th.”



November 5, 2005, News Article 'Old Spook' helped crack CIA riddle
This News Article was reprinted in the Phoenician (Spring 2006).

July 2004 News Interview on Operation ELSTER (Magpie). The "old spook" uncovered Nazi agents WWII mission, hidden for 6 decades, to sabotage Manhattan Project. See:

Pursuant the above-mentioned email inquiry last Spring, I reviewed news media articles on Kryptos over the past half-dozen years and discovered that entrepreneurs have made Kryptos an online enterprise. Browsing a virtual explosion of Kryptos related websites I recognized language identical to my observations and notations made on Kryptos Part IV in "A Courtyard Interlude," and in an "Update on Kryptos" published in the Summer 2000 PHOENICIAN, but nowhere did I find any attribution to these original sources or any reference to my 1997 breaks on Kryptos. I hope to visit the CIA campus this fall to test two spatial setups, one of which I feel may unearth Kryptos final secrets. Meanwhile, with the urging of CIA and NSA retirees I am posting the following Kryptos analysis timeline from files boxed away in my attic.

Who broke the CIA cryptogram, when, where, and how.

March 21, 1997 - I examined Kryptos cipher and Vigen're panels, and the clues in the courtyard and outside the NHB west entrance. Copying by hand the top half of the cipher panel, I discovered two conspicuous levels of repeating sequences in the upper section, and pointed this out to the CIA PA staffer with me. It seemed a good guess that this section of the cipher panel was intended for application to the attached Vigenre panel.

March 23, 1997- Letter to CIA official who had invited me to be on a Woman's History Month panel. The name blocked-out in first line is CIA PA officer with me in the courtyard March 21st. "Mardi" is my wife, Marjorie Hayes Byers.

March 27, 1997- Email from CIA staffer with me in courtyard March 21st. The "27 March item" was an email attachment with information for the CIA official organizing the program for Women's History Month. The "back lot" is the NHB courtyard. The "second level" is the lower sequence of polyalphabetic repeats in the top cipher panel.

April 2, 1997 - Package from CIA official, in response to my request for a copy of the Kryptos cipher inscription, only the top half of which I had copied. The package included a CIA bulletin titled "The Art of Cryptography" containing the Kryptos Inscription and Vigen're Table and CIA observations on Kryptos. The package also contained a news clipping from Apr.1991 INSIGHT magazine, plus an original CIA 8-10 color photo of Kryptos.

April 4, 1997 - Letter from NSA Phoenix Society with a copy of CIA bulletin "The Art of Cryptography," in response to my phone call requesting a copy of the Kryptos cipher inscription.

April 1997 - Letter from James Sanborn with copy of the cover Dec.1991 CRYPTOGRAM journal of American Cryptogram Association, and a 1990 News Clipping of the Kryptos inscriptions. This was in response to my phone call March 30th requesting a copy of the Kryptos cipher inscription.

April 1997 - Letter from ACA, American Cryptogram Association, with CRYPTOGRAM issues Dec.1991 and Apr.1992.

April 10, 1997 - Email to CIA PA staffer who was with me in the courtyard. Names and information unrelated to Kryptos are blocked-out.

April 11, 1997 - Letter to CIA official requesting photos of clue structures. Names and non-Kryptos information blocked-out.

April 12, 1997 - Email to CIA staffer re photos of clue structures and CIA's 7x10 Kryptos Color Print.

October 1998 - John VIII-32 inscription in CIA lobby I hastily copied on CIA/OS notepad to confirm 49-letter count, pursuing my early 1999 theory that Kryptos unbroken K4 cipher could be digraphic (bilateral substitution), borrowing the final "Q" from K3 to make 98 letters (49 digraphs), encrypted with a double "Playfair" or a "Checkerboard" cipher with a 5x5 matrix (I/J in one cell), using keyword Kryptos mixed-alphabets, and an "additive" key. Without a super-encryption additive a cryptanalyst with "machine support" (computers) could easily have broken K4. Given this lack of success, I turned my attention towards an out-of-the-box "spatial" procedure, primitive by modern elliptical encryption standards, yet able to withstand computer attacks. Hopefully you will see more about this as soon as I am able to travel to Virginia following hip surgery.

December, 1999-The Kryptos plaintext message contained in Part I (ciphers K1 & K2) and Part II (cipher K3) as it appeared in December 1999 in CIA's inhouse edition of Studies in Intelligence.

January 1, 2006-London Sunday Times article from December 31 phone and e-mail interview with Richard Gay.

January 2, 2006-Letter to the Editor London Sunday Times

December 31, 2005- Part of e-mail interview preceded and followed by telephone interviews with reporter Maurice Chittenden of the London Times.

December 30, 2005. My response to Dec.28 email from Ed Scheidt (see below) the CIA cryptographer who originated the Kryptos ciphers for James Sanborn:
To: Ed Scheidt [email address]
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 19:25:00 -0500
Subject: RE: A Fellow Crypie
Dear Ed,
Nice to hear from you.
Yup, I knew you were the brains behind Sanborn's ciphers. I had this to say
in my May 1999 Kryptos article:  "The cryptographer who designed these
cipher systems is to be complimented on the historic craft and artistic
touch he brought to the statuary, without which it is several tons of
copper of equal interest to a scrap metal dealer."
The article "A Courtyard Interlude" was the cover story in CIRA (Fall 2002)
and is featured in the current issue of Cryptolog (NCVA, Fall 2005).  It
appeared in Periscope (AFIO, Spring 1999), the Phoenician (NSA, Fall 2000 &
update Winter 2005-6), and in the Forum (FAROG, Winter 2005-6).
Did you read my article "Under Cover as a Franco" in CIRA? ... [CIA shop-talk not related to Kryptos] ...
When I come down to scope out K4 perhaps we can meet for coffee somewhere.
Come to the coast of Maine as my guest for a weekend at
Best regards,
PS:  RUMINT has it Sanborn applied his personal touch to K4.
[Note: RUMINT is a term, that I invented years ago, for Rumor Intelligence, or just plain rumor. By the way, Ed did not respond to my PS.]

April 2006. James Sanborn reveals that he omitted a letter from the Kryptos Part I cipher panel, which interrupted the decryption sequence and yielded plaintext "ID by rows." Sanborn now confirms that the correct plaintext should be "xLayer two." Thus the ending of the Part I message reads: … "38 degrees 57 minutes 6.5 seconds North, 77 degrees 8 minutes 44 seconds West. Layer two." My guess is the words "Layer two" were included simply to fill out the top cipher panel and label the second polyalphabetic layer, the one I reported to CIA in 1997 (see Timeline March 21, 1997 & March 27, 1997).

On the other hand "Layer two" could be taken as another clue to solving Kryptos Part III (K4). Reluctant to give away more secrets in responding to inquiries from journalists, bloggers, and entrepreneurs, I hinted that the copper scroll folds back upon itself, and the final "Q" from K3 moves to K4 producing 49 digraphs (Periscope, March 2000); and that sun and shadow play a decrypting role (see Timeline Nov. 5, 2005 & Jan. 2, 2006).

From the first I have not believed that K4 employs an unbreakable OTP. A one-time key maybe, but not a one-time pad. Six years ago I reported in the Phoenician (Summer 2000) and elsewhere, that keyword "Palimpsest" may suggest a spatial system for K4. I believe the elusive key to K4 is a computer-resistant mix of cryptography and steganography. Soon I hope to be able to test a stegotext-covertext formula on-site at CIA.

June 2, 2006--My email to James Sanborn (he did not reply).
Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2006
To: [James Sanborn]
From: raguay
Subject: Greetings from coast of Maine
Hi Jim,
I know how you are hounded, but I have one question:
Does one really need to be onsite to solve K4?
Ed S says one thing and you seem to say another.
I've always assumed it can be done with a copy of the cipher transcription,
same as the other parts K1,K2, & K3.
Dick Gay

June 4, 2006 email to Ed Scheidt, Sanborn's Kryptos cryptologist (Ed has not replied).
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006
To: [Ed Scheidt]
Subject: Greetings from Maine
Hi Ed,
In your and Jim Sanborn's interviews, you referred to K4 as containing "98 letters" and JS calls it 97.  Another difference is that JS said the K4 requires an onsite solution, and your answers indicate otherwise.
As an old crypie, like yourself, I would hope the merrits of K4 can stand on their own, without the need to feed the public misinformation. My guess is that K4 is a good enough system that disinformation need not be part of the puzzle.
In spite of JS's possible compass-clock, I have started to abandon the idea that the suns shadow plays a role... seasons and DC weather being what it is :-)  An angle projected from some other of JS's gimmiks perhaps, but not 'ol sol.
Anyway, I wish you and/or JS would set the worldwide public straight on the mixed JS/ES message:  1) 97 or 98 letters, and 2) Onsite requirement, or not.
Dick Gay

June 15, 2006. Ed Scheidt's Dec.28, 2005 email:
From: Ed Scheidt [email address]
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2005 12:59:09 -0500
Subject: A Fellow Crypie
... [Responding to my CIRA Winter 2005 article updsating Kryptos] ... I guess I haven't had the opportunity to meet with you, but I encourage you to try for K4.  I will not be able to work with you as you had suggested in the article for a two-person on site procedure.
I am the cryptographer that created Kryptos.  It has been fun to observe on
the side lines.
Have a Happy New Year.
Ed Scheidt
Retired 1989
[Note: Could this be a clue, albeit unintended, from "A Fellow Crypie" that the "two-person on site procedure" is not going to work on Kryptos. In the past I suspected that Jim Sanborn messed with Ed's finished product on K4 with a bit of re-sculpturing. In my article "An October Update on Kryptos" in CIRA Winter 2005 on page 34 I had written: "The solution to K4, I believe, may require a two-person on site procedure, which I hope to test as soon as I recover from recent hip surgery. Anyone wishing to team up with me for a sortie into the NHb courtyard, I can be found at:"
Ed is mum on the subject, but I now have reason to believe that Ed's K4 cryptogram embedded in K4 is tricky enuf to stand on its own, with or without a touch of Jim Sanborn's artistic steganography.]

Stay tuned: Richard Gay's extensive personal file and timeline on Kryptos will be scanned and added to this website.