After sitting undisturbed for more than 10 years, a treasure chest holding gold nuggets and precious gems has been found in the Rocky Mountains. The box was hidden by millionaire art dealer Forrest Fenn; his only clues included a map and a poem. But after countless quests, the search is over.
"The treasure has been found," Fenn wrote in a statement to a blog run by Dal Neitzel for discussions among Fenn treasure seekers.
"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," Fenn said. "I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot."
The successful seeker has not come forward.
"The guy who found it does not want his name mentioned. He's from back East," Fenn told The New Mexican in Santa Fe. The find was confirmed by a photograph, he added.
The search for Fenn's hidden treasure became a sensation, luring tens of thousands of people to try to decipher the clues and embark on what they hoped would be a life-altering hike in the wilderness. But for years after the first clues appeared in Fenn's self-published book, The Thrill of the Chase, no one could find the right spot.
For some, it became a dangerous obsession: In the process of looking for the trove that was said to be worth as much as $2 million, at least four people have died.
"The ornate, Romanesque box is 10-by-10 inches and weighs about 40 pounds when loaded," as NPR's John Burnett reported in 2016. "Fenn has only revealed that it is hidden in the Rocky Mountains, somewhere between Santa Fe and the Canadian border at an elevation above 5,000 feet. It's not in a mine, a graveyard or near a structure."
After reports that searchers had died while looking for his treasure, Fenn tried to dissuade people from taking perilous risks, saying in a statement emailed to NPR, "The treasure is not hidden in a dangerous place. I hid it when I was about 80 years old."
Three years ago, the treasure hider said he believes at least 250,000 people have looked for the stash. But noting the accidents that have occurred, he added, "The search is supposed to be fun."
Fenn, who will turn 90 in August, had pledged never to reveal where he hid the prize, telling Burnett in 2016, "If I die tomorrow, the knowledge of that location goes in the coffin with me."