Now, the world may never know
Forrest Fenn died at his Santa Fe home on Monday of natural causes at the age of 90 – taking the secret location of his recently found treasure with him.
Although Fenn was a decorated fighter pilot in the Air Force, ran several art galleries and wrote numerous books, he will remain best known for the treasure hunt he launched in his 2010 memoir, The Thrill of the Chase.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of treasure hunters took to decoding the mysterious poem that held the key to the treasure’s location, with a few dying in pursuit. Earlier this year, he announced the chase was over. The chest, estimated to be worth between $1 million -$5 million, had been found by an East Coast man. Fenn and the finder refused to disclose its location.
Fenn lived a life of adventure and wanted others to experience adventures too, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. He found the answer in what became the world’s largest modern-day treasure hunt. Fenn loaded a bronze chest with gold, jewelry and other valuables and hid it somewhere in the Rockies. By his count, 350,000 people went looking for the booty, primarily in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Wyoming.
Fenn never identified the man who found the chest, only later divulging, under intense pressure, that it had been in Wyoming.
While the hunt generated excitement, it also came with a cost. Several people died while searching for the treasure. Many others got lost, prompting dangerous rescues. Some even spent all their savings on the fruitless search.
Fenn urged treasure seekers to take precautions – but he refused to call off the hunt.
The search for his treasure prompted a slew of TV shows, newspaper and magazine articles, and documentaries. The search also spawned an annual gathering at Santa Fe’s Hyde Memorial State Park known as “Fennboree.”
Fenn was a native of Temple, Texas, where his father was the principal at the school he attended. In his memoir, he related a lesson from seventh grade, when he called his Spanish teacher an “old bat” and told her his father also referred to her as an old bat. When his father learned what he had said to the teacher, the man told young Fenn, “What we’ve learned is that you should always tell the truth, but you should not always tell ALL of the truth.”
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