If you believe millionaire art collector Forrest Fenn, there’s actually a real treasure buried somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, just waiting to be found. The 84-year-old author claims he hid a chest full of gold and jewelry – worth millions of dollars – in the mountains five years ago, and even left clues in his book The Thrill of the Chase. Tens of thousands of people have joined the hunt, but no one has managed to find the coveted treasure so far.
Fenn, a native of New Mexico, moved back to Santa Fe with his wife in 1970. He has always had a strong sense of adventure, but he didn’t get the idea to hide his treasure until 1988, when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He was told that his chances of survival were slim, so he started thinking of creative ways to share his wealth. That’s when he thought of a treasure hunt.
As he was being treated for cancer, Fenn purchased an antique 10-inch by 10-inch bronze chest and filled it with gold and priceless historical artifacts from his collection. Although his cancer went into remission eventually, he still went ahead with his plan to bury the chest. He hid it somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, but no one knows exactly where, or even in which state. Fenn himself has olny confirmed that it could be in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, or Wyoming, but says people have to follow his clues in order to find it.
He hasn’t revealed its exact contents, but he says that numerous people laid their eyes on it before he hid it, including New York Times bestselling writer Douglas Preston. He told the media that the treasure chest contains 256 gold coins, among other articles of value – “mostly American eagles and double eagles, hundreds of gold nuggets, some as large as chicken eggs, ancient Chinese carved jade figures, Pre-Columbian gold animal artifacts, lots of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds and other things.” The New Mexico Tourism Department estimates the value of the treasure to be at least $2 million.
“I wanted the monetary value to be a consideration for those who are looking for it, but mostly my motive was to get kids off the couch and away from their texting machines out in the mountains,” Fenn said.
Understandably, the treasure caught the attention of the nation when Forrest Fenn first made his announcement, five years ago. Hordes of people have tried to make sense of the nine clues that Fenn claims to have hidden in a poem in his book. About 30,000 people searched for the treasure last summer, and 50,000 are expected to go on the hunt this summer. “I think it’s out of control,” Fenn said. He did reveal that some people have come very close to finding it – as close as 200 feet away from the spot – but they were unaware of how close they really were.
Fenn said he isn’t disappointed that no one has found his treasure. “Somebody could find it tomorrow and it may not be found for a thousand years. I’m looking at the big picture. A lot of people who are searching for the treasure don’t see it the same way I do. I would love if someone found it tomorrow but if nobody found it for a hundred years, that’s okay with me too.”