By Tim Binnall
In a rather stunning development over the weekend, Forrest Fenn announced that the treasure he had hidden in the Rocky Mountains a decade ago has finally been found. The eccentric art dealer revealed to the Santa Fe New Mexican on Sunday that a man "from back East" had located the cache of gold, jewels, and rare artifacts "a few days ago." Fenn told the newspaper that he confirmed the discovery when the individual, whom he declined to name at their request, sent him a picture of the unearthed prize, which he did not share with the newspaper.
The remarkable turn of events brings to a close a nearly decade long hunt for Fenn's Treasure which kicked off back in late 2010 with the release of his memoir The Thrill of the Chase, wherein he detailed how he had hidden a chest stuffed with riches somewhere in the Rocky Mountains and left clues to its whereabouts in a poem found in the book. Over the next ten years, the audacious stunt took on a life of its own with hundreds of thousands of people participating in the search by way of vibrant online communities and countless on-the-ground expeditions.
In recent times, the treasure has been the source of considerable controversy as at least five people perished while in pursuit of the riches. This tragic toll led to more than one attempt by law enforcement officials to convince Fenn to call off the hunt, but he repeatedly refused to do so. Beyond the unfortunate individuals who lost their lives, numerous people have also needed to be rescued during ill-prepared searches of the treasure over the years. Meanwhile, Fenn was targeted by bold burglars, strange stalkers, and odd lawsuits.
For the thousands upon thousands of people who have pondered the mystery of where the treasure was hidden, the events of this weekend are undoubtedly bittersweet and that emotion was seemingly shared by Fenn, himself, when he was asked about the hunt having coming to an end. "I feel halfway kind of glad, halfway kind of sad," he mused, "because the chase is over." While that appears to be the case, there is still quite a bit of uncertainty attached to the tale of Fenn's riches.
In a statement released over the weekend, the art dealer provided a bit more detail regarding the discovery, offering the vague explanation that the treasure was located "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 went on to write that "at this time, it is up to the finder to reveal the final resting place of the treasure. That is part of the privilege of finding the treasure chest. If he chooses not to reveal the location, the secret spot may remain shrouded in mystery." As such, it's entirely possible that we might never know who found the riches nor where they were buried.
To that end, the fact that Fenn has yet to provide any documentation for the discovery has fueled speculation among skeptics and disappointed treasure hunters that something is amiss with the story. Some have theorized that the hunt may have actually ended a few years ago and that the art dealer did not want to tell anyone, while others contend that there was never any treasure in the first place and that the whole thing was a hoax perpetrated by Fenn. It remains to be seen whether or not those misgivings have merit, and one can only hope that the person who found the treasure will eventually come forward to provide some answers to the questions which continue to swirl around the story.
One person who does believe that the treasure existed and has been found is a Chicago real estate attorney named Barbara Andersen. Upon hearing the news this weekend, she insisted that the individual who discovered the riches had learned of their location by hacking her computer and promised to file an injunction against the man in the hopes of receiving the prize for herself. Time will tell what becomes of that legal wrangling, but it's entirely in keeping with the strangeness that has long surrounded the Fenn Treasure and perhaps an indication that there may still be a bit more weirdness to come from the enchanting mystery.