Striking gold: man finds treasure worth $2m buried in the Rocky Mountains

Striking gold: man finds treasure worth $2m buried in the Rocky Mountains
View of the Rock Mountains, where Forrest Fenn buried treasure worth $2m for anyone to find. Courtesy Flickr Commons.

Like something out of an Indiana Jones film, a trove of treasure, buried a decade ago in the Rocky Mountains by Forrest Fenn, has officially been found. Hundreds of thousands of people went in search of the buried treasure, worth $2 million, some even died in the process, but, according to Fenn, the treasure has been claimed.

“The search is over,” wrote Fenn, an 89-year old eccentric collector and amateur archaeologist, on his website breaking the news about the the treasure. “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.” The man who found the trove wants to remain anonymous, said Fenn who only revealed that “He’s from back east.”

Filled with gold coins, gold dust, gold nuggets, gold pre-Columbian statues, Chinese carved jade, gems, and antique jewellery, among other treasures, the trove is estimated to be worth around $2 million. Fenn lugged the 13th century Romanesque bronze chest, weighing 42 pounds, into the Rocky Mountains in 2010 and simultaneiously released a self-published memoir entitled The Thrill of the Chase. Within the book, Fenn included hints as to where the treasure was buried. In addition to his book, Fenn wrote a poem, said to include nine clues about the treasure, that served as an invitation to treasure hunters everywhere to embark on their journey.

“So hear me all and listen good,

Your effort will be worth the cold. 

If you are brave and in the wood

I give you title to the gold” -excerpt from Fenn’s poem

“The country was going into a recession and everybody was losing their jobs,” Fenn told Denver7 News in an interview when asked why he set up the treasure hunt. “I wanted to give somebody some hope. That was one of the reasons. The other was that I wanted kids to get off the couch and go up to the mountains.”

In the end, an estimated 300,000 people took Fenn up on the offer, searching the Rockies for the chance to discover the buried treasure. Four died while trying to find it and others speculated that the whole thing was a hoax. “Nobody should have risked their lives, but certainly there were some tragic losses, and I’m very sorry for that, but I think, generally speaking, it’s been a good thing,” said Fenn. “I think a lot of people have really enjoyed the mountains. I get emails from them, and they say they’re going to keep coming back.”

While the treasure has been found, the battle for it might not be over. Chicago real estate attorney Barbara Andersen claims that she was the true successful party in the hunt for Fenn’s treasure. Andersen claims that she first solved Fenn’s riddles, figuring out the buried treasure’s location, but was followed by the anonymous winner who beat her to the punch. “He stole my solve,” Andersen told the Santa Fe New Mexican. “He followed and cheated me to get the chest.” Andersen has filed a lawsuit against the man who found the treasure, so it could be a while before the matter is officially settled.