Forrest Fenn is either a fraud or a genius, or maybe both.
In 2009, the Santa Fe art and collectibles dealer announced online that he’d buried a million-dollar treasure of gold, antique coins, rare jewels, and other items, and was relinquishing all claims to the loot. He published a poem online that gave clues as to the treasure’s location. He said his goal was to create an old-fashioned treasure hunt.
According to Fenn, more than 350,000 people have tried to find the buried treasure, many starting their search near his location in New Mexico and quickly moving to the Colorado mountains. Now Fenn claims that a man found the treasure last week, so the hunt is over.
But is it? Fenn said the man doesn’t want to be identified. Until someone surfaces claiming to have the treasure, the entire episode could have been a long fiction in Fenn’s mind… and his pocketbook.
In addition to publishing a poem, Fenn also published clues in a memoir, a physical book only available through Collected Works Bookstore right there in Santa Fe, which published and sold the book for a mere $55 per copy. If several hundred thousand people bought the book, that’s $1.65 million for Fenn and the bookstore to share, along with any other items they sold to the fortune hunters along the way.
Several people have died looking for the treasure, and several have filed suit against Fenn for varying issues related to the loot. Maybe the state of New Mexico should give him an award for dramatically increasing tourism.