The greatest treasure hunt of the modern era is over.
According to Forrest Fenn, who hid a bronze trunk filled with gold and jewels somewhere on Western public lands, his treasure has been claimed. Fenn made the announcement on his blog last weekend, saying that an adventurer from “the East” found the chest.
“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 led him to the precise spot.”
Fenn is an art dealer, author, and former Air Force pilot from New Mexico. The 89-year-old hid the treasure about a decade ago to inspire people to get outside and enjoy nature. The only clues to the chest’s location came from his 2010 self-published book, “The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir.” In it he provided subtle hints through a poem and series of short stories.
Treasure seekers definitively determined that the trunk was located between 5,000 and 10,200 feet in elevation in the Rocky Mountains. It was near pine trees, but not in proximity to a human trail, cemetery, or mine. Fenn himself hauled the treasure there in two trips, noting that it could be reached by an 80-year-old man.
Most efforts to locate the treasure have been concentrated in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, along the Arkansas River in Colorado, and in the Southern Rockies of New Mexico. At least five people have died in pursuit of Fenn’s prize, from a lost snowmobiler in Dinosaur National Monument to a climber who fell 500 feet in Yellowstone National Park. Dozens of others have gotten hurt or needed rescuing while looking, which prompted New Mexico State Police Chief to call for Fenn to end the search in 2017.
The treasure hunt has had its fair share of other controversies, including a number of lawsuits brought upon Fenn for making fraudulent claims and providing misleading clues. People have also been ticketed on public lands for trespassing, illegal digging, and damaging cultural artifacts while trying to locate the chest.
Conservative estimates place the haul’s value at $1 million, while others believe it’s closer to triple that. Fenn has promised to divulge more details later this week, with many people hopeful he’ll reveal the bounty’s contents and hiding spot. Fenn said he’s both sad and glad that the chase has concluded.
“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.”