Forrest Fenn's "wild" treasure hunt is over
An eccentric art collector, a treasure trove in the Rockies, two dead treasure hunters and an anonymous and lucky Indiana Jones. Reality ALWAYS surpasses fiction.
A decade ago, an extravagant New Mexico art collector named Forrest Fenn decided that life was so boring that he had to summon the spirit of Stevenson and bring a little magic and adventure into the tedious 21st century.
Fenn hid a treasure in a remote part of the Rocky Mountains, a chest full of gold nuggets, coins, precious stones and valuable, pre-Columbian artifacts, and announced that whoever found it could keep it. Thus began his crazy "treasure hunt" that has led to the death of more than one treasure hunter and ended in early June, when an anonymous adventurer found Forrest Fenn's chest.
This was announced by the 89-year-old gallery owner on his website, although he did not give any details of its exact location.
"It was under a canopy of stars in the lush Rocky Mountain forest and had not moved from the place where I hid it more than 10 years ago," Fenn wrote, assuring The Santa Fe New Mexican that the adventurer, whose name is kept secret, sent him a photograph to prove his discovery.
Most amazing of all, Forrest Fenn had left a clue in a cryptic poem from his 2010 autobiography, The Thrill of the Chase, in which he wrote:
"Start where the warm waters stop," and also, "and take it down the canyon."
Fenn, a former Air Force pilot and later an art collector in Santa Fe, invented this sort of delirious adventure after finding out he had kidney cancer. He thought he would have his remains buried next to the treasure box, but when he recovered from the disease he wanted to give others a reason to "get off their couches," he said in 2016.
Thousands of people have gone into the dangerous Rocky Mountains over the past 10 years in search of the coveted $2 million treasure, which was hidden, Forrest Fenn said, at 5,000 feet above sea level.
The coordinates have made many intrepid adventurers risk their lives, including two who died during the treasure hunt. So much so that New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas asked the gallery owner in 2017 to stop the senseless search.
"If someone drowns in the pool we shouldn't empty it," Forrest Fenn replied. "We should be teaching people how to swim."
Finally, there was someone who didn't just swim. He dove in and found the hidden pearl.