For a decade, a hidden treasure chest holding $2 million in gold and jewels has been tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to head into the American West in a modern-day exploration. Now, 89-year-old Forrest Fenn, a writer and artifacts dealer who buried the treasure in 2010, reports that it was found on June 6.
“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,” wrote Fenn.
Fenn would not say where the treasure was found nor who found it due to the man’s wishes to remain anonymous. The writer did tell the Santa Fe New Mexican that “he’s from back East” and confirmed the discovery by a photograph that the man sent, though he declined to show it to reporters.
A cryptic 24-line poem published in Fenn’s memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, alluded to the alleged location of the treasure, citing a canyon and “home of the Brown” with a warning that there will “be no paddle up your creek… just heavy loads and water high.” In 2017, local news accounts reported that the chest itself weighs 19 kilograms (42 pounds) altogether – 9 kilograms (20 pounds) for the chest itself and another 10 (kilograms) 22 for its contents – that Fenn reportedly hid alone, making two separate trips to its still undisclosed location.
“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,” said Fenn.
An estimated 350,000 people have hunted for the treasure, according to the Washington Post. Though it was meant to inspire people to get outside, immerse in nature, and take part in an old-fashioned treasure hunt, the burial has been rich in controversy. At least five people have died while searching for the treasure, prompting New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas to ask that the treasure be retrieved.
“He’s putting lives at risk,” the chief told the Associated Press in 2017.
In 2013, a man was charged in New Mexico for damaging a cultural artifact while digging. The following year, Yellowstone National Park rangers detained a couple for having a metal detector and digging in park boundaries – and those are just a few in the long list of public safety concerns and lawsuits associated with the treasure.