Hidden in the Rocky Mountains a decade ago, a treasure hunter from ‘back East’ has found the chest. Filled with gold and precious gems, Fenn’s treasure is valued up to $2 million.
Forrest Fenn, an 89-year-old art and antiquities dealer, broke the news Sunday on his website.
“It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains, and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago,” Fenn wrote in an announcement on his website.
The statement is a pointed affirmation that the treasure hadn’t been moved and was indeed in the Rockies. In the past, Fenn has defended himself against accusations of creating a hoax.
Fenn Treasure Found: The ‘Thrill’ Is Gone
Fenn confirmed the treasure was discovered a few days ago in an interview with Santa Fe newspaper The New Mexican. He said the lucky finder, from “back East,” sent a photo as confirmation but asked that his name and the treasure’s location be kept secret.
Fenn wrote about the treasure in his 2010 biography “The Thrill of the Chase.” The only clue to its location was a short 24-line poem. The bronze chest reportedly contains hundreds of gold coins and nuggets, gems, and other artifacts from his collection. It took him two trips to place the haul there.
Fenn experienced his first thrill at age 9 when he found an arrowhead in a plowed field. He intended the treasure hunt to spur exploration in nature and add some adventure after the Great Recession.
“I congratulate the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries,” he wrote in his website announcement.
Fenn estimates 350,000 treasure hunters went looking for his chest. Some used the treasure as a fun aside to a trip. Others quit their jobs and devoted time and money to discovering more clues and searching various landscapes.
Five deaths, from mishaps in the wilderness, are attributed to searching for the treasure.
As Search Ends, Questions Persist
Some have accused Fenn of moving the treasure or never hiding it in the first place. In 2019, a Colorado man sued him for making “fraudulent statements.” He was sure he’d found the spot, but not the treasure.
The treasure may not have been buried, and for years Fenn hinted that the finder may laugh upon its discovery. Fenn didn’t reveal the exact location but said he may reveal the state where he hid it: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, or Montana.
An entire Reddit thread emerged that was dedicated to finding its location and sharing theories or stories of failed attempts. Now, some of the thread’s 20,000-plus members are posting their best guesses to see how close they were, in case Fenn ever releases the exact location.
With the treasure claimed, the story will continue as Fenn releases photos and perhaps more clues. For now, one lucky person is likely researching how to sell two egg-sized gold nuggets.