[Image courtesy of Westword.]
The hopes of thousands of would-be rich treasure seekers were dashed a few weeks ago when Forrest Fenn announced that his treasure, hidden a decade ago, had been found.
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.
So the search is over. Look for more information and photos in the coming days. f
In the days since, interest in the treasure has peaked, quite possibly making the entire endeavor more famous now at its conclusion than it was during the height of the hunt.
[The chest, supposedly just before Fenn hid it in the Rockies.]
Originally, the above statement was the only confirmation we had, save for Fenn’s comments in a local interview, that the chest had been found “a few days” before he broke the story.
Additionally, he told the Santa Fe New Mexican:
“The guy who found it does not want his name mentioned. He’s from back East,” he said, adding that it was confirmed from a photograph the man sent him.
The commenters on Fenn’s website kept flooding the page with messages, questions, and their own suppositions, leading to additional pages being added to allow for more comments.
As you can imagine, the reactions run the gamut from joy that the treasure had been found to disbelief that it was over. Some shared their own solutions and progress, comparing notes and wondering how close they’d been to completing it.
Some wished to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a new treasure hunt, or for a marker to be placed where the treasure was found, so other aspiring hunters could verify their own solutions to his poem.
Others demanded more proof, positing that Fenn had retrieved the treasure himself, or that he’d never hidden it at all.
Reactions were less mixed elsewhere. Given how many times emergency personnel had been called out to rescue treasure hunters over the last decade, more than one outlet reported that entire search & rescue departments were relieved to hear the treasure hunt was over.
Ten days after the initial announcement, Fenn posted three images, including the one above. He again claimed the finder wished him to remain silent.
Now, it’s reasonable to assume that this photo is the one he was sent by the solver. Fenn’s comment accompanying the picture is frustratingly vague: “Photo of the chest taken not long after it was discovered.”
It certainly appears that the box has weathered some sort of exposure — particularly that key — and the accumulated dirt and debris along the rim seems to indicate the box was buried at some point. (Check out this YouTube video for a more in-depth breakdown of the box and its contents.)
The other two photos raise more questions.
Here, Fenn wears a bracelet mentioned in a previous interview, one that he claimed he wanted back. He said the bracelet was wet when it was found. That indicates the chest wasn’t sealed tight enough to prevent the elements from getting in. (It does make you wonder why only some of the treasure was in ziplock bags, not all of it.)
Fenn’s comment accompanying this photo: “Removing objects from the chest. It is darker than it was ten years ago when I left it on the ground and walked away.”
He claims these photos are proof the treasure was found. But if he’s going through the treasure after it was found, that means either the mysterious finder brought the treasure back to him, or he went “back east” to meet the treasure hunter. (It does look like a hotel conference room or something similar.)
Or, as some nonbelievers claim, this is just more misdirection. The photos could have been taken at any time. Or Fenn had the treasure all along.
Again, the vagueness that permeates everything about the end of the Fenn treasure hunt makes it hard to believe events have progressed as Fenn stated.
Tony Dokoupil, who wrote about Forrest’s treasure hunt for Newsweek and is credited for helping publicize the treasure hunt, believes that the chest hasn’t been found and the announcement is a hoax. He claims that Forrest wants to be found with the treasure after his death, as a way of ensuring that his name will be remembered for years to come.
What Dokoupil doesn’t explain is how ostensibly calling off the treasure hunt now would effectively help him do so.
Some of Fenn’s other comments recently seem to lend credence to the idea that he’s lying about the treasure. In previous statements, he said he hid the treasure. In the recent post with the released photos, he says, “It [the chest] is darker than it was ten years ago when I left it on the ground and walked away.”
Is that nitpicky? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s an inconsistency borne from an older man who simply didn’t keep his story straight.
[Image courtesy of The Santa Fe New Mexican.]
The multiple lawsuits we discussed in our previous post are still ongoing. Is concealing the solution part of an effort by Fenn to prevent further lawsuits from solvers who were close, but ultimately failed and might blame Fenn or the unnamed solver? Is it an attempt by Fenn to help the solver avoid paying taxes on his newfound loot?
Among doubters, the prevailing theory seems to be that the treasure was never hidden at all, and the whole thing has been a publicity stunt to sell his book.
Others believe Forrest when he said the goal of hiding the treasure was to get people out to enjoy nature. Some YouTubers are taking a similar path, posting videos with clickbait titles like “How We Found Forrest Fenn’s Treasure,” only for the end result to be them talking about enjoying the journey, not actually reaching the destination.
That might be enough for some, but for many more, they’re waiting for further proof. I, for one, must count myself among the doubters.
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