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While staying on Sator's yacht in Tenet, the protagonist spies a helicopter unload a canister containing inverted gold. We know that it is inverted because several bars fly into Sator's hand when he makes a reverse dropping motion.

The protagonist is spotted but persuades Sator to go ahead with their plan to steal "the Pu-241" in Tallinn, and to stake him the funds to do so. Sator tosses him one of the gold bars. It is a normal toss and the bar lands without issue. It is not inverted.

When was the inverted gold returned to normal?

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The gold remained inverted throughout, with the viewer needing to consider two points, one implied, the second specified within the script.

The gold was still inverted when it was 'thrown' to The Protagonist. He appears to have deliberately mishandled it, believing that he has not yet had his cover blown to reveal his real role as a member of Tenet. When we first see TP get used to handling inverted objects at the lab, he appears to quickly master the techniques involved. 'Instinct' is how it is described. However, in the scene on the boat prior to the Talinn chase he uses not just one but two opportunities to pretend to be ignorant of both inversion and the clandestine world he has been exposed to. Not only does to he appear to mishandle the inverted gold, he also refuses to acknowledge the Opera pass phrase with what should have been 'and there are no friends at dusk'

SATOR:They’re usually buying, not selling. But we do live in a twilight world... PROTAGONIST: Is that Whitman? It’s pretty.

Finally, with regards to why The Protagonist deliberately fumbled the handling of the gold bar the script specifies that he used this opportunity to grab a soil sample for Neil's analysis...

The Protagonist, looking Volkov in the eye, picks up the gold bar, scooping DRIED MUD into his hand, unseen.

...which confirms that the bar is inverted and from the future.

PROTAGONIST:What did you find on the gold? NEIL:Three hundred thousand at today’s price, no franks, mould marks. Nothing. Like it came from outer space. PROTAGONIST: Or the future...

Tenet (2020) ScriptSlug

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    Huh. I think you're right. I had not considered the possibility of Sator just paying for things with inverted gold, though of course he must have done so in the period before he built his first turnstile. The movie sidesteps the question of what bankers and jewelers did when confronted with gold that seemingly violates the laws of nature. – Michael Stern Jan 25 at 12:49
  • It will be all shits and giggles for whoever thought they had got rich, until they try to melt it down and it jumps back into the rock - ore... – Stephen Francis Jan 25 at 14:54
  • I was imagining somebody smelting one to create a standardized bar with marks, or jewelry, and just having the bar get colder and colder when heated. – Michael Stern Jan 25 at 16:29

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