Forrest Fenn Treasure Hunt Concludes
June 7, 2020 7:19 PM   Subscribe

A treasure chest hidden in the Rocky Mountains for a decade has finally been found. (CNN, June 7, 2020)

Forrest Fenn said he hid a treasure trove worth more than a million dollars somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2010, a 24-line poem offering nine clues to the treasure's location appeared in Fenn's self-published book, "The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir," and over time additional clues were collected online. Late last year, Fenn, now 89, was sued by an unsuccessful Coloradan treasure hunter, who felt he'd been duped by Fenn; at the time, Fenn told The New Mexican that "an estimated 350,000 people have gone on the hunt." Many treasure-seekers risked their physical safety and lost small fortunes during that hunt; a few adventurers lost their lives. “I regret that some treasure hunters have invested more in the search than they could afford, although those numbers are small,” Fenn said [in 2016]. “I also regret that several people have become lost in the winter mountains. I have said many times that no one should extend themselves beyond their comfort zone, physically or financially.”

Today, Fenn's website, Thrill of the Chase, published a statement confirming that an unnamed treasure hunter, "a man from back East," had located the chest and emailed Fenn photographic proof of the find: “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. 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.

"So the search is over. Look for more information and photos in the coming days.”

Fenn and his treasure previously on MetaFilter.
posted by Iris Gambol (26 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm guessing the search and rescue groups are celebrating this - it seems like there have been a lot of people who got lost looking for this getting rescued or recovered.
posted by lab.beetle at 8:24 PM on June 7 [8 favorites]


Fancy littering.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:31 PM on June 7 [6 favorites]


Hooray!
posted by Going To Maine at 8:51 PM on June 7




The only thing that would amaze me about this story is if the treasure was ever actually hidden.
posted by zamboni at 10:27 PM on June 7 [7 favorites]


It's buried by the side of the road, next to the barbed wire fence post. Under the red window scraper.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:40 PM on June 7 [11 favorites]


I have found
the picassos
that were in
the mountain

and which
you were probably
saving
for Oblivion

Forgive me
they were found
hard to sell
and so cold
posted by clavdivs at 11:00 PM on June 7 [9 favorites]


The only thing that would amaze me about this story is if the treasure was ever actually hidden.

The implication here us that Foster Fenn is enough of an eccentric sociopath to have allowed people to die and go bankrupt in search of nothing, which would seem to drift into a fairly extreme form of sociopathy.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:40 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


> Fancy littering.

not untrue, but, in terms of total impact, I'll take that all day long over the rock-stacking trend that's become ubiquitous over roughly the same period
posted by 7segment at 1:17 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


The implication here us that Foster Fenn is enough of an eccentric sociopath to have allowed people to die and go bankrupt in search of nothing, which would seem to drift into a fairly extreme form of sociopathy.

I'm not sure leaving a million dollars worth of stuff in the woods, encouraging people to chase it, using it for self-promoting a book, and then watching people die and go bankrupt for 10 years, is any less sociopathic.
posted by mmoncur at 2:45 AM on June 8 [8 favorites]


Surely any use of a million dollars other than using it to help the needy is intrinsically sociopathic, to a greater or lesser degree?
posted by acb at 2:55 AM on June 8 [6 favorites]


In a Facebook Argument(TM) with an old nemesis I recently opined that really wealthy people lack empathy.

Of course, I'm wealthy, relative to some, but I still think that collecting autos or yachts displays a kind of oddness -- not that I don't understand the impulse to collect! -- but that you think "I need another Austin more than those folks need bail funds" or whatnot.

Obviously, I'm guilty (Hello Peters Singer and Unger) of going to movies and buying T-shirts instead of paying for more vaccines and bail funds.

But really, 2 yachts?
posted by allthinky at 5:47 AM on June 8


p.s. This post is really well done, and also? if I had time and money to burn I would totally have been out there. I mean, I'd explore the Rockies anyhow, and this would add to the fun. If I didn't die.
posted by allthinky at 5:50 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


I'm on the shrug side of the equation for holding eccentric prankster responsible for encouraging gullible people to waste their time or go stupid-camping.
posted by ovvl at 7:40 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


That Santa Fe New Mexican article sure makes the whole folly sound like a terrible, awful thing for all involved. Particularly Fenn. So much nonsense, like "Barbara Andersen said she is filing an injunction in federal District Court alleging she solved the puzzle but was hacked by someone she doesn’t know." I mean what? Really?
posted by Nelson at 8:08 AM on June 8


The implication here us that Foster Fenn is enough of an eccentric sociopath to have allowed people to die and go bankrupt in search of nothing, which would seem to drift into a fairly extreme form of sociopathy.

Lots of people think he just made up the "It's been found!" to keep people from dying, but mostly to prevent more legal problems. Until the pictures are posted, it's not unreasonable to assume he is full of shit.
posted by sideshow at 9:11 AM on June 8 [5 favorites]


As a packer/guide in the Sierras in the 80's I once packed a couple of lawyers (who were from San Francisco) into the Minarets, to an isolated hunting camp. One of them told me that they didn't particularly like killing deer, but needed an excuse for their yearly two-week adventure into the back-country. I thought they missed the point, but then I was getting paid to do what they paid to do, what I would have done for free, or, at least for the beans.

Right around that time, but in mid-winter, a light airplane crashed in the Sierras between the Mammoth ski area and Yosemite. Rumor had it that it was carrying a bale of good weed. I knew a pair of ridge-running cross-country drillo ski bums who traversed the area on skis trying to find it. They failed, but somebody got there before an SAR unit arrived.

Those people who pursued Fenn's fortune had their own reasons. Fenn isn't responsible for their failures.
posted by mule98J at 9:41 AM on June 8 [7 favorites]


The implication here us that Foster Fenn is enough of an eccentric sociopath to have allowed people to die and go bankrupt in search of nothing, which would seem to drift into a fairly extreme form of sociopathy.

I'm not sure leaving a million dollars worth of stuff in the woods, encouraging people to chase it, using it for self-promoting a book, and then watching people die and go bankrupt for 10 years, is any less sociopathic.

I thought about this before commenting! But I think that laying a deliberate fake trap knowing that people might die to no end at all is worse.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:07 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


This is functionally (risk wise) no different than geocaching.
posted by Mitheral at 11:19 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Fucking finally. I'm grateful we won't have people continuing to travel here looking for it. Privately I'm pissed that he created this situation for NM and the money is going out of state.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:36 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


"Right around that time, but in mid-winter, a light airplane crashed in the Sierras between the Mammoth ski area and Yosemite. Rumor had it that it was carrying a bale of good weed."

It was January of 1978. Here's the post about it from 2012.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:38 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


To be clear - every SAR person in NM that I know is relieved that this is over. It has been a huge burden on our resources in a very poor state. The private groups are absolutely popping some metaphorical champagne over this news.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:42 AM on June 8 [11 favorites]


Until the pictures are posted, it's not unreasonable to assume he is full of shit.

Until someone gives me sufficient proof that these "Rocky Mountains" that keep being referenced are actually real, I'm calling shenanigans on the whole thing.

I mean seriously, "Rocky Mountains"? It's like a bad place keeper name a writer put in their adventure novel, and then forgot to update.
posted by happyroach at 1:28 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


In some instances, the same person triggered more than one SAR over the course of several treasure-seeking attempts:
"Fenn treasure hunter Madilina Taylor, of Lynchburg, Virginia, prompted three search and rescue efforts in the same part of Wyoming in a span of four years. The first time she spent four days lost in the woods, the second time she broke her ankle. Still she went back again." (The Hunt Must Go On, Outside, June 28, 2017)
In 2016, when Randy Bilyeu went missing, "Fenn chartered a helicopter and joined volunteer crews who were scouring the riverbanks," but I didn't get the sense Fenn made a habit of that. Pulling the links together yesterday, I wondered if Fenn had retrieved his "treasure" himself, with an assist from whomever helped him place the chest in the hinterlands years ago.

The origin story: "In the summer of 1988, not long after doctors removed his cancer-plagued right kidney, Forrest Fenn began approaching writers with a curious proposal..." [tw: suicidal ideation] (One writer was longtime friend Douglas Preston, who turned Fenn down; he later wrote the Fenn-inspired 2003 treasure-hunt thriller The Codex with Fenn's blessing.) When Fenn (art dealer, military veteran, amateur archaeologist, irrepressible raconteur, and self-mythologizer) thought he was not long for this world, he developed his treasure hunt as his legacy, a grand adventure to "get people outside, into nature." Fenn sorted through his massive collection of (allegedly) ill-gotten antiquities and (allegedly) high-quality fakes to create a separate, portable treasure hoard, and also made specific purchases to add to the heap. Ultimately, he decided against interring himself with his treasure, and hiked out into the wilderness in his 70s to hide the groaning, "42-pound" bronze box. (So, he might have had company on the trek.) After he published the memoir, the hunt was on.

If any of that story holds: Fenn's 90 in August. He's lived longer than he initially expected, contending with unplanned expenses, including medical costs; he's run into legal trouble again since the start of his hunt, and there's lingering suspicion that some elements of that loot (in and out of the chest) are forgeries. (There's suspicion that some pieces in the chest are items the Feds were keenly interested in back in the '90s and '00s.) Fenn was a highly successful art & antiquities dealer in Santa Fe, making millions of dollars, but a lot can change in two decades.

Fenn's non-treasure-hunt inventory may not be as valuable, to Fenn or his heirs, as anticipated, and the specter of yet more legal trouble loomed should those items be put up for sale. If there was a mix of real and fake goods in the chest, and Fenn could use the income from the sell-able genuine bits now, in retrieving it he'd also sidestep the various headaches involved with a stranger solving his puzzle, finding the hoard, having the contents evaluated... Besides, people kept getting lost, bankrupt, frostbitten, and dead searching for Fenn's treasure -- his legacy grew more complicated every year.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:18 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]




Aw, fer crying out loud: Forrest Fenn Announced His Treasure Was Found. But CBS Anchor Tony Dokoupil Says That May Not Be the Case. (Inside Edition, June 19, 2020) Fenn recently announced the "treasure was found ... the chase is over." He said the lucky person who discovered it did not want his name mentioned and is from "back East." He also shared three photos of what he said were of the chest, writing “It is darker than it was ten years ago when I left it on the ground and walked away."

But Dokoupil said the photos aren't "proof" that the treasure has been found, noting the pictures are undated, taken in an unnamed location and those that include Fenn are from before he buried the treasure. [...] "The real reason why I don't think the treasure has really been found is because Forrest told me that his plan was to entomb himself along with the treasure," Dokoupil said. "I think the treasure is in a location where an older man can still get to it and crawl or insert himself in and alongside the chest. I mean, that's how it was explained to me."

[Eight years ago, Dokoupil spent the better part of a week in Santa Fe, interviewing Fenn; the resulting article, "Forrest Fenn Wants You to Find His Treasure—and His Bones," was published by Newsweek on August 20, 2012.]
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:41 PM on June 19


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