Forrest Fenn’s Decade-Long Treasure Hunt Has Ended

In the depths of the Rocky Mountains, the hidden treasure has been found! Over a decade ago, Forrest Fenn, the multi-millionaire art dealer, left this treasure chest in the wild, intentionally sparking an international treasure hunt. It’s no wonder this hunt caught so much attention — the chest is valued between $1-5 million.

You would think this treasure chest would be filled with stacks of cash — this is the 21st century, after all! Fenn went old-school, however. The chest was filled with gold, rubies, emeralds and diamonds.

The announcement was released on the official treasure hunt website on June 7, 2020. Fenn wrote, “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. I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book lead him to the precise spot.”

This anonymous finder sent a confirmation photograph of the treasure to Fenn. All Fenn knows about the man is that he is from “back East”. The man allegedly found the treasure several days before the announcement was made.

Forrest Fenn hid the treasure chest to encourage people to explore nature, and give hope to those hard-hit by the Great Recession. He believes that as many as 350,000 people from around the world searched for this treasure. Some people had quit their jobs to become full-time treasure hunters. Others had filed lawsuits against Fenn because of his “misleading” clues. Five had died in pursuit of this treasure. Lives lost, near-death rescues, and police run-ins were integral to the fame of this ultimate treasure hunt — sounds like real-life “National Treasure”!

Fenn originally hinted about this buried treasure in his self-published memoir The Thrill of the Chase. While subtle hints were dropped throughout the memoir, the real clues came within the 24-line poem.

Fenn is now 89 years old, but he accumulated the treasure placed in this chest through his own (relatively controversial) explorations throughout the Southwest. After his cancer diagnosis in 1988, he had originally planned to take the treasure to the Rockies and die beside it. After surviving his cancer, he made other arrangements; he hid the chest and sparked the search in 2010, as there was too much “despair” in the headlines.

Not everybody is overjoyed at the resolution of this hidden treasure tale. Many people have filed lawsuits over the years, claiming Fenn had misled them or the entire hidden treasure is a hoax. For example, in December, one man sued Fenn for $1.5 million. While this case was thrown out, having cited a mishandled procedure, the same man petitioned the court to reopen the case in early June. Another woman claimed somebody “stole her solve” and hacked her after she had identified the location of the treasure. These allegations have led some to be skeptical of the sincerity of the date and time the treasure chest.

Regardless of these allegations, the hunt for Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure had piqued the interest of many and started life-long communities of treasure-hunters and puzzle-solvers.

Fenn concluded his announcement by congratulating “the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries.”

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