Santa Fe Millionaire’s Claim He Hid A Treasure Chest Sets Off A Hunt
A photo provided by Forrest Fenn shows a chest purported to contain gold dust, hundreds of rare gold coins, gold nuggets and other artifacts. For more than a decade, the 82-year-old claims he has packed and repacked the treasure chest, before burying it in the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe.
Santa Fe, N.M. » For more than a decade, he packed and repacked his treasure chest, sprinkling in gold dust and adding hundreds of rare gold coins and gold nuggets. Pre-Columbian animal figures went in, along with prehistoric “mirrors” of hammered gold, ancient Chinese faces carved from jade and antique jewelry with rubies and emeralds.
Forrest Fenn was creating a bounty, and the art and antiquities dealer says his goal was to make sure it was “valuable enough to entice searchers and desirable enough visibly to strike awe.”
Occasionally, he would test that premise, pulling out the chest and asking his friends to open the lid.
“Mostly, when they took the first look,” he says, “they started laughing,” hardly able the grasp his amazing plan.
Was Fenn really going to give this glistening treasure trove away?
Three years ago, he lay two of his most beloved pieces of jewelry in the chest: a turquoise bracelet and a Tairona and Sinu Indian necklace adorned with exotic jewels. At the bottom of the chest, in an olive jar, he placed a detailed autobiography, printed so small a reader will need a magnifying glass. After that, he says, he carted the chest of loot, now weighing more than 40 pounds, into the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe and left it there.
Next, Fenn self-published a memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, distilling the autobiography and, intriguingly, including a poem that he says offers clues to lead some clever — or lucky — treasure hunter to the bounty.
It wasn’t long before word of the hidden trove got out, and the publicity has caused a mini-gold rush in northern New Mexico.
But it has also set off a debate: Has Fenn truly hidden the treasure chest or was this, for the idiosyncratic, publicity-loving 82-year-old who loves to tell tales, just another way to have fun, a great caper to bolster his legacy?
One friend, Michael McGarrity, an author and former Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputy, acknowledges it could be “a private joke,” though he believes “Forrest has certainly buried something.” If it was the treasure he saw, well, “it really is quite an astonishing sight to see.”
For more information: denverpost.com/santa-fe-millionaires-claim-he-hid-a-treasure-chest-sets-off-a-hunt
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