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A Dying Man Left Behind Hidden Clues To A Secret Treasure That Took 10 Years To Find

Updated September 9, 2020 37.5k views16 items

In 2010, an art and antiquities dealer named Forrest Fenn allegedly trekked to the middle of the Rocky Mountains and dropped off a bronze chest full of gold, jewels, and Native American artifacts worth around $2 million. After returning home, he wrote a poem packed with clues detailing where he left his bounty. Fenn included the poem in his memoirs, then watched amateur explorers lose their minds. The Forrest Fenn treasure is a fascinating modern mystery, and for years people questioned if it even existed - until one explorer claimed to have found the chest. 

  • Photo: Jim Ecklund / NPS Photo / Fair Use

    In June 2020, Fenn Said The Treasure Was Found 

    On June 5, 2020, Fenn announced on his website, "The search is over." He elaborated: 

    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. 

    Fenn told The New Mexican that the man who found his treasure did not want to be named, but he sent Fenn a photo of himself with the bounty, proving his allegations. Fenn confirmed that the treasure was indeed discovered. 

    Chicago real estate attorney Barbara Andersen is filing an injunction in federal District Court because she claims she is the one who solved the hunt, and someone hacked her and beat her to the spot.  

    Fenn perished on September 7, 2020, of natural causes at his home in Santa Fe. 

  • A Poem Offered Major Hints To The Treasure's Location

    Finding the treasure required people to decipher a poem written by Fenn after he stashed his hidden chest. Published in 2010, Fenn's book The Thrill of the Chase contains a 24-line poem reportedly directing readers to its whereabouts. Initially, Fenn only printed 1,000 copies of the book, a memoir about his life growing up in Texas; he sold his memoir through a bookstore in Santa Fe, NM. 

    When magazines began to run stories about the treasure clues hidden in Fenn's book, the autobiography flew off the shelves. Original copies now go for quite the sum, though you no longer need a copy of the book to read the poem.

  • Photo: arwensouth / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Paris Wallace Died Searching For Fenn's Gold

    On June 18, 2018, Paris Wallace, a Colorado-based pastor, turned up near the Rio Grande Gorge in New Mexico. Authorities were on the lookout for his remains ever since someone saw his abandoned car a few miles away. After the man disappeared and searchers found his backpack floating in a river, Wallace's family told the media about his search for Fenn's treasure. 

    Fenn told Westword, an independent newspaper based out of Colorado, that he didn't "have any inclination to call off the search. Thousands of people are having positive experiences, and the rewards that come with hiking in the mountains are many."

  • Photo: ThinkLikeABlackBelt / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Eric Ashby Drowned Trying To Find The Treasure

    In 2017, Eric Ashby - who moved to Colorado to hunt for the treasure - disappeared near the Arkansas River. At the time, his disappearance was mysterious, but many assumed he'd gone missing while treasure hunting. Ashby's sister said, "He loved trying to solve puzzles and riddles, so when he heard about Forrest Fenn’s treasure, of course, he was intrigued."

    According to Wired, Ashby embarked on his search with two other treasure hunters, Becca Nies and Jimi Booker. Ashby decided to cross the turbulent waters alone, and the two watched as the current carried him away after he fell from his small boat. A pair of photographers who witnessed the event attempted to call 911, but the water swept Ashby too quickly. Nies and Booker didn't initially speak with authorities, but investigators have ruled out foul play in Ashby's death.