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Fenn’s treasure hunt

This treasure hunt story should appeal to you. In 2010, the American art dealer Forrest Fenn launched a gigantic full-scale treasure hunt. He announced that he had hidden a bronze chest filled with coins, jewelry and valuables somewhere in the middle of the Rocky Mountain range. The hunt lasted ten years. Ten long years, until a man named Jack Stuef finally got his hands on Fenn’s treasure.

Who was Forrest Fenn?

Forrest Fenn was born in 1930 in Texas. He was a pilot in the United States Air Force in the early part of his life and later ran an art gallery with his wife in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This business made him a lot of money. Too much for him perhaps, because he decided to hide some of it and made a real game out of it.

Following the announcement of his incurable cancer in 2010, the millionaire decided to carry out this completely crazy project: he launched the largest treasure hunt in modern history. After hiding a chest full of precious objects, he published his memoirs The Thrill of the Chase, in which he inserted multiple clues about the location of the treasure. Among other things, an enigmatic poem of 24 lines, divided into six stanzas, was to help the inventors find the loot “hidden in the mountains north of Santa Fe”. He also published clues on his blog to fuel the desire of the treasure seekers.

This challenge was met with great response in the United States. The Rocky Mountains, the mountain range that crosses the entire North American continent from New Mexico to Alaska, became the playground for thousands of Americans, who were kept in suspense. It is estimated that approximately 350,000 people participated in the adventure.

Treasure hunt rocheuses

A treasure hunt that turns into a nightmare

Unfortunately, Fenn’s treasure hunt took a sad turn. The former art dealer was threatened and robbed. Some people became so obsessed with the find that they went overboard. Gold fever drove gamblers to commit crimes and damages in Yellowstone National Park and to take some risks.

The New Mexico police chief asked Fenn in 2017 to end the hunt so as not to put anyone in danger, but Fenn refused to do so. In the end, five people died in tragic accidents.

The find

Gold nuggets
Fenn treasure

Luckily, one man put an end to this unreasonable hunt. In June 2020, Forrest Fenn stated on his blog that “the treasure was found, under a starry sky, in the lush vegetation of the Rockies. It had not moved from the spot where I hid it over a decade ago. I don’t know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him or her to its exact location… So the search is over.

Forrest Fenn died a few months later. Was it the treasure he had led him to it?

If the finder decided at first to remain anonymous, he eventually revealed his identity: Jonathan Stuef, was 32 years old at the time of the find. Originally from Michigan, he confessed his obsession and the hold that this treasure hunt had on him lasted over several years. He never revealed the location of the treasure.

The bronze chest, with its wooden lining, was carved in a bas-relief depicting a scene of knights climbing walls on ladders to find young princesses. It was filled with gold nuggets, ancient coins and precious jewels: a 17th-century Spanish ring, jade stone figurines, numerous precious stones, etc. In total, the treasure consisted of 19 kilos of precious objects.


In December 2022, Jonathan Stuef auctioned off 476 of the items found in the chest, including precious coins, an Alaskan gold nugget weighing 549 grams, a pair of scissors, a gold pectoral and a frog pendant from the Middle Ages. The auction catalog also included a small wax-sealed glass jar containing Fenn’s 20,000-word autobiography, written in tiny type. The sale generated $1.3 million.

You will regularly find pieces of this treasure for sale in our online store.

Sources :
Sciences et avenir
Ouest France

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