Forrest Fenn's Treasure

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,239
Likes
9,010
Points
284
#1
A long article, in full:

The man who buried his treasure in a poem
Forrest Fenn, an art dealer told he was dying of cancer, has decided to leave a unique legacy: a fortune in antiquities hidden in the Rockies, and a cryptic poem that may lead right to it. But will his treasure ever be found? Alex Hannaford reports.
By Alex Hannaford
7:00AM BST 19 Sep 2013

Two years ago, Dal Neitzel set off in search of treasure. He drove 1,540 miles from his home in Washington State to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, part of the Rockies in New Mexico, hoping to find a Romanesque chest.
Dated to about AD 1150, the chest is said to contain in the region of $3 million (£1.9 million) worth of treasure: gold coins, pre-Columbian gold animal figures, Chinese jade carvings, a 17th-century Spanish ring with an inset emerald, rubies, sapphires and diamonds.

Neitzel was led to the haul by a short six-stanza poem found in a book. Deliberately vague, it apparently included nine cryptic but vital clues, including: “Begin it where warm waters halt / And take it in the canyon down / Not far, but too far to walk / Put in below the home of Brown.” The author of the poem was an elderly Texan art dealer named Forrest Fenn.

An inveterate raconteur with an infectious chuckle, Fenn was a familiar face in Santa Fe, where he’d lived with his wife, Peggy, since the Seventies. In 1988, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer and the prognosis was grim: he figured he had about a year to live, and that’s when Fenn started to formulate a plan to bury some of the treasure he’d acquired over the years, leaving clues to its whereabouts. “It had been so much fun building my collection over the decades,” he later wrote, “why not let others come searching for some of it while I’m still here?” In the event, it took him more than 20 years to go through with the plan, by which time his cancer was long-gone. In 2010 he self-published a book, The Thrill of the Chase, a memoir packed with clues and a poem leading to the treasure chest. “There must be a few Indiana Jones types out there, like me, ready to throw a bedroll in the pickup and start searching,” he wrote.

The book, which was initially only available through one bookshop in downtown Santa Fe, sold steadily, but it wasn’t until 2013 that Fenn’s treasure attracted national attention. Earlier this year, a producer on long-running American morning television programme The Today Show read an article about Fenn in an in-flight magazine, and Fenn’s subsequent appearance led to a dramatic increase in orders for his book. Fenn’s latest book, Too Far to Walk, is about to be published, and he says it could offer treasure seekers more clues to help lead them to the chest.

Dal Neitzel is just one of hundreds of people who have contacted Fenn to let him know they’ve been searching for his haul. Before he set out, after poring through historical books and scouring maps, Neitzel, a 65-year-old former TV cameraman, convinced himself the treasure was in the Rio Grande Gorge in New Mexico, close to the border with Colorado. Remarkably, he’d managed to locate a large house on the edge of a steep drop that overlooked a gushing river. Outside that house was a sign that read: ‘Brown’. He read Fenn’s poem aloud again: “Put in below the home of Brown.” That had to be it.

But after days spent scouring the river bed and banks, he knew it wasn’t. “Today I’d walk right past that spot because one of the things we know is that when Forrest hid the treasure he intended for it to potentially stay hidden for 1,000 years,” he says. “If nobody finds it right away it’s OK with him. And so he couldn’t possibly be referring to a living person by the name of Brown because they – and their house – won’t be there in a thousand years.
“It must refer to something historical,” Neitzel says. “Something written in history. Something geological, perhaps. Something that someone could continue to find forever.”

Dal Neitzel isn’t sure how much time or money he’s already devoted to hunting for the treasure. “I’m not a very good accountant,” he says, laughing. “I have no idea, but for the past three years I guess this has eaten up just about every free moment I have. We’re talking about months of time I’ve devoted to it. And each time I go to the Rockies searching I spend about a thousand or two on gas and accommodation.”
But, Neitzel says, “If I desperately needed the money, I wouldn’t be able to afford to go looking for it.” 8)

Fenn lives with his wife in a beautiful house surrounded by trees in the hills overlooking Santa Fe, just a short drive from the art gallery he used to own and where he made his fortune. A cacophony of dogs greets me as I pull into his long driveway and I slow to a crawl in order to avoid the smallest one. Now in his early eighties, Fenn greets me at his door with a firm handshake and leads me down some steps into his study, a shrine to his years of collecting, trading and archaeological excavation. There are millions of dollars’ worth of artefacts on display here.

On a small table underneath the window, 20 or 30 small dolls stand facing forward, resplendent in colourful costumes and beaded necklaces. “They are Plains Indian and Apache dolls,” Fenn says, already moving on to another display. “The earliest dates from about 1725; the oldest was made in about 1880.”

He pulls a book from the shelf, bending the fore-edge slightly to reveal a delicate watercolour. It’s a painting of the city of Cambridge in England, he tells me. Flip the book over, bend the fore-edge again and it’s a painting of Oxford.

On the floor beneath the bookcase is a row of ladies’ high-top moccasins. “Kiowa and Comanche,” Fenn says as he leads me to another small table. “Here’s my ancient Egyptian stuff.” He hands me a mummified falcon. “I’ll show you an X-Ray of what’s inside,” he says, opening a drawer in the table and pulling out a plate showing some skeletal remains.

On the wall above the fireplace are what look like cattle skulls. “They’re buffalo,” he says, noticing my interest. “Sundance skulls. They were used in a Plains Indian ceremony.”

Elsewhere are Taos drums from the 1900s, Native American knives in beautiful beaded sheaths, clothing, bracelets and ornaments. What’s his favourite item, I ask? “It’s the first little arrowhead I found when I was nine years old down in Temple, Texas. That’ll be the last thing I sell.”

The arrowhead is kept in Fenn’s vault – along with a large number of other artefacts he hasn’t room for in his study. Among them is a peace pipe that apparently belonged to the Lakota Sioux tribal chief Sitting Bull. I wanted to say, as author Craig Childs did in his 2010 book about archaeology, Finders Keepers, that it should, surely, be in the Smithsonian or in the hands of the Sioux Indians.

But Fenn isn’t a big fan of museums. Most of the Smithsonian’s collection is hidden away in storage, he says. He’s correct. In fact, the Washington Post reported that the museum has so much stuff that less than two per cent of its collection is on display at any given time.

We sit on a comfortable leather couch at the side of his study. Our conversation is punctuated by the persistent “ping” of emails that arrive on Fenn’s laptop, open on his desk nearby. He gets about 100 a day, almost all of them from treasure seekers wanting to connect with the man who they believe will make them rich beyond their dreams.

A handsome man with a mischievous smile, Fenn wears jeans, boat shoes and a smart short-sleeved shirt. He says one of the rules he made for himself when he was a teenager was that he never wanted to do anything for more than 15 years – there are, he insists, “so many good things to do and not many 15s”. First there were 15 years of schooling. Then he went into the military, flying fighter planes in Vietnam, something about which he writes a significant amount in The Thrill of the Chase. “That took me 20 years,” he says, “because I needed a couple more years to get retirement.”

Then he and his wife moved from Texas to New Mexico, towing a trailer behind their truck to Santa Fe, where they attempted to make it in the art world. His philosophy was to deal solely in luxuries. “I never wanted to do anything where my best client gave me a hundred bucks,” he explains. “When you’re dealing in necessities, they’re labour intensive. I wanted to deal with the top.”

Fenn sold to everyone, he says, “from movie stars and politicians [including former President Ronald Reagan] to the rancher and the farmer”. Fourteen years in, he began the process of selling his business, but he says it took a little longer than he anticipated. “I was out after 17-and-a-half years,” he says. Now he’s on his fourth “15”, as a writer and archaeological excavator – a few years ago he bought an entire Indian pueblo outside Santa Fe, and he is in the process of digging for its hidden artefacts.

The title of Fenn’s book is significant. He insists that, for him, it isn’t really about finding the treasure at all. It’s about the “thrill of the chase” – encouraging families out of the house and into the mountains; getting children away from their computer games or television shows and experiencing the wilderness. “I have thousands of emails from people, most of them thanking me for getting their family out of the game room.”

Some people have suggested that Fenn’s treasure doesn’t exist; that it’s an elaborate hoax to sell books. Fenn says the only people who have doubted its existence are those who were convinced they knew where it was hidden, spent their holiday looking for it, but didn’t find it. Besides, he doesn’t profit from the sale of The Thrill. “I don’t even get my publishing costs back,” he tells me. “I gave all the rights to the Collected Works Bookstore here in Santa Fe just so nobody could accuse me of doing this to profit. How can it be a hoax when I don’t make any money?” (What Fenn doesn’t tell me is that half of the profits also go to a cancer charity – I learn this later, from an assistant working at the book shop.)

The bulk of Fenn’s wealth will be passed down to his daughters and grandchildren. But what really was the purpose of giving away part of his fortune? In his book, Fenn ponders the nature of death. He describes experiences of his tour in Vietnam, stumbling upon the unmarked graves of French soldiers. “What about those whose bones are rotting under the headstones of a thousand wars?” he writes. “Is it fair that no one recalls where those brave French soldiers fell?”

On paper at least, Fenn seems concerned about the fact that most of us will be “nothing but the leftovers of history or an asterisk in a book that was never written”. And so I ask whether this is the real reason for the memoir and the hidden treasure: that as he approaches his 84th year, he wants to ensure his legacy – make certain that history will remember him.

But he insists that this isn’t something he thinks about. “To do something while you’re alive so you’ll be remembered after you’re dead is foolhardy. It’s like the speeches that are made at funerals about what a wonderful person that guy was. To say something nice about a dead man is a study in futility.”

Fenn says it’s more about history than legacy. He tells me a story about how, when he was small, his parents would make their own soap because they didn’t have the money to buy it. They’d kill a hog, boil the fat, pour in lye, cool it and set it. “And I think it’s sad that my children and my grandkids don’t know about those kinds of things.”

His grandmother used to tell him stories about Comanches and Kiowas running through her barnyard in Fort Worth, trying to catch chickens. “It’s inconceivable that people living today would even think about that. You read it in history books but you can’t relate to it.”

What Fenn wants is for people to experience history, not just read about it in dusty books. When he was an art dealer he used to raise eyebrows by letting schoolchildren touch the canvases of 200-year-old paintings. One of those was of George Washington, produced when the first President of the United States was sitting just a few feet away from the artist. By letting those schoolchildren touch the actual paint, they could, Fenn says, connect with what this really was and what it meant. “You can become part of that episode,” he says. “And that’s exciting to me.” When somebody finds his treasure and reads his memoir (a tiny copy of it, together with a magnifying glass, is included in the treasure chest), he says “they’ll be amazed at what things were like back then.”

A few treasure seekers have already got themselves into hot water looking for Fenn’s gold, carvings, coins and sapphires. Earlier this year, local television reports said the state of New Mexico planned to file charges against a man found digging under a memorial plaque along the Pecos river. And in March a Texan woman got lost in the forest north of Santa Fe. When her boyfriend didn’t hear from her, he reported her missing and a team of search dogs and three aircraft were mobilised from the city. She was found safe the next morning.

“I can’t afford to be a babysitter,” Fenn says when I ask whether he feels any responsibility. “Besides, that woman wasn’t really lost. When she was ‘rescued’ she was walking down the road towards her car. She did spend the night out there in the rocks and it was 35 degrees or something [less than 2C], so it wasn’t a waltz in the park, but …”

Another question that has cropped up – and one which seems to irritate Fenn – is whether the treasure can, in fact, be legally claimed at all. Fenn has never said whether or not the treasure is actually buried — just that it’s "hidden". But there are laws against removing property from National Forest or National Park land even if it isn’t underground. The laws governing federal land are slightly different. A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management, which is responsible for more than 13 million acres of public land in New Mexico, confirmed that although anyone out looking for the Fenn treasure on BLM land must follow existing rules and regulations, “there is no obligation for the finder to notify our agency about its discovery.”

In other words, if it’s on federal land, as long as you don’t physically dig it up it’s yours to keep. But there’s nothing to indicate whether it’s on federal land, state land, in a National Forest or a National Park. And Fenn is keeping tight-lipped. I ask whether he’s worried about someone finding it and not being able to claim it. “I could worry about it if I wanted to but I don’t want to,” he says.

I decide to drive up into the Sangre de Cristo range north east of Santa Fe. Your heart beats a little faster 10,000 feet up in the Rockies. I take a remote, bumpy Forest Service road down into a valley. Red jagged rock formations loom above me, and I realise how easy it is to project Fenn’s poem – his guide to the treasure – on to wherever you happen to be looking. Could the brown rock above me to the right be the ‘house of Brown’? Or perhaps it’s the cabin I saw a couple of miles back along the road?

At Black Canyon, just eight miles or so from the city, I hike up into the mountains and I'm alone with just gentle breeze blowing through the aspens and tall pines for company. I follow a dry creek bed through the forest as it winds alongside an empty road. It would have been easy for Fenn to park up somewhere like this; carry his chest down the path, until the paved section dead-ends into trees and bushes. From there you can beat a path to this creek bed.

I’m only half paying attention to Fenn’s poem that I’ve scribbled on a piece of paper. Instead I’m trying to picture how far an 80-year-old man would actually have been able to lug a three-stone treasure chest into the Rockies. Maybe that's the key to finding it? :?

Walking back up the path to my car, the sun warming my face as it finds its way through the spruce and firs, I realise why most people, when they fail to find Fenn’s treasure, are content with just spending time in the mountains.

I recalled what Dal Neitzel had told me: that he went searching for the treasure because he enjoyed the challenge and the puzzle. “I suppose I could collect stamps,” he’d said. “Or remodel my bathroom.” But Neitzel said he enjoyed getting out, seeing places he’d never before visited.

When he first went looking for the chest - on that 1,500 mile drive from the far north west of Washington state down into the Rockies - he whiled away the hours imagining what he'd do with the money after he sold the treasure. He’d get his truck fixed up; he’d get work done on his house. “I had the money all spent in my head,” he told me. Two years on he’s still searching, but now he just enjoys the hunt.

“If I found it, I think I’d pass out,” he said. “But after I woke up, I’d drive down to Santa Fe and take it to Forrest so he could tell me the history of every piece in that chest. And then I’d ask him what he wants me to do with it. If Forrest wants it re-hidden I’d help him re-hide it.” :D

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/book ... -poem.html
 

Kondoru

Antediluvian
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
5,858
Likes
783
Points
194
#2
Apart from disapproving of his attitude towards antiquities I kind of like this guy.

Treasure is meant to be shared.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
15,456
Likes
19,537
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
#4
Missing treasure hunter's remains found in New Mexico

The remains of a 54-year-old man who disappeared hunting for a hidden stash of gold and jewels in New Mexico have been discovered, local authorities say.

Police in New Mexico's capital Santa Fe confirmed the remains as those of Randy Bilyeu from Colorado.

He went missing in January this year hunting for a $2m (£1.5m) trove hidden by art dealer and author Forrest Fenn.

Thousands have searched for the hoard left by Mr Fenn, who gave clues about the treasure's location in a 2011 book.

Bilyeu set out for the Rocky Mountains in northern New Mexico with a raft and his pet dog on 5 January.

His wife reported him missing on 14 January, and the raft and dog were found the next day. The remains were discovered along a stretch of the Rio Grande river.

Mr Fenn has urged people not to search for the treasure during winter and joined in search efforts to find Bilyeu.

The writer says hunters should not look in "any place where an 80-year-old man couldn't put it". ...
SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36900767
 

dr wu

Doctor Prog
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Messages
2,048
Likes
1,421
Points
184
Location
Indiana
#5
^Not to seem callous , but he died doing what he enjoyed.

I saw a program on the Fenn Treasure on tv recently...fascinating stuff....I wonder if it will ever be found...and is Fenn still alive? He said no one knows the location except him. o_O
 

Tribble

Killjoy Boffin
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
2,716
Likes
5,959
Points
204
#9
A modern-day quest for buried riches has already led to the deaths of at least two treasure hunters. But the man who claims to have hidden a stash of about $2 million says that he has no plans to put an end to the search.

Forrest Fenn, an art dealer and a former Air Force fighter pilot, announced in a self-published 2010 memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase,” that he had buried a lockbox full of gold coins and nuggets, precious gems and ancient artifacts. He offered clues to its location, hidden in the 24 verses of a poem published in the memoir. Since then, he estimated, more than 65,000 people had joined the search.

On Sunday, the authorities in New Mexico found the body of one of them. Paris Wallace, a pastor from Colorado, was reported missing last week after his family said he went searching for the treasure.

Elizabeth Armijo, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico State Police, said on Tuesday that the state medical examiner had not yet made a positive identification of the body, but that officials believed all evidence indicated it was Mr. Wallace.

Pete Kassetas, the chief of the New Mexico State Police, called on Mr. Fenn to end the hunt, saying that lives were being put at risk.


In an email, Mr. Fenn said he had no plans to call it off.


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/21/us/forrest-fenn-treasure.html
 

dr wu

Doctor Prog
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Messages
2,048
Likes
1,421
Points
184
Location
Indiana
#10
No one is forcing these people to look for the treasure...but it is sad when someone dies as a result.
Fenn isn't going to live forever.....he might want to consider telling someone else where it's at.
:confused:
 
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
49,740
Likes
22,693
Points
284
Location
Eblana
#11
Another treasure hunter confirmed dead.

The remains of a risk-taking treasure hunter who vanished in June searching for $2 million in buried gold have been identified, authorities said.

Eric Ashby was presumed to have drowned in a rafting accident on the Arkansas River in Colorado last June, Fox 21 Colorado Springs reported. A month later a body was found downstream. Last week, a local coroner announced that the body had been positively identified as Ashby’s through DNA.

Friends said Ashby, 31, of Colorado Springs, died searching for author Forrest Fenn's hidden treasure. ...

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/b...tified-as-colorado-treasure-hunter/ar-BBIpNE3
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
15,456
Likes
19,537
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
#12
The list of deaths among seekers of Fenn's treasure continues to climb ...

Search for Buried Treasure Linked to Illinois Man's Death At Yellowstone
Last summer, 53-year-old Jeff Murphy was hiking in Yellowstone National Park when he went missing. Park investigators found his body on June 9, where Murphy had fallen 500 feet from Turkey Pen Peak, after accidentally stepping into a chute.

But he wasn't on just any hike. He was looking for a treasure box of gold and jewels worth up to $2 million, buried somewhere in the Rocky Mountains by an eccentric millionaire named Forrest Fenn. ...

Murphy is the fourth man to die while searching for the chest.

While his death was reported at the time, it wasn't clear until NBC affiliate KULR obtained a copy of the park's investigation that Murphy was looking for Fenn's treasure when he died.

"The report shows that Murphy emailed Forrest Fenn in the days before Murphy's death," KULR reports. "It also shows emails from Fenn to Yellowstone officials during the search. The man who invited people to look for his chest of gold and jewels in the Rockies was very concerned about Murphy, and also offered to help pay for a helicopter to find the missing man. He also wrote that he had never been to the area where Murphy fell."

Linda Bilyeu, whose husband died in searching for the treasure in January 2016, told NBC News that the hunt was "ludicrous" and "should be stopped."

After the death of 52-year-old Paris Wallace, also last June, Fenn posted additional clues to a treasure-seekers' blog, apparently with the hope of preventing people from searching in unnecessarily dangerous locations. ...

"Please be cautious and don't take risks," Fenn wrote. "The search is supposed to be fun."
FULL STORY: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo...-yellowstone?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=news
 

dr wu

Doctor Prog
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Messages
2,048
Likes
1,421
Points
184
Location
Indiana
#13
The first time I heard of it was on Josh Gates tv show a few years back.....it'd be a shame if he dies and doesn't leave the location knowledge with someone he trusts. The treasure could remain lost forever.
I've read the poem clues several times and imho it's too general...no one is going to find it based on that alone unless they just end up with dumb luck and stumble upon it. There must be a hundred places or more similar to his 'clues' all along the Rockies. That's a huge area to cover.....my parents took us to vacations out in those various State and National Parks when I was young....it's a vast wilderness....even today with all the improvements.
 

Schrodinger's Zebra

My joints go out more than I do
Joined
Mar 8, 2018
Messages
2,711
Likes
5,397
Points
204
Location
Rädd stad
#14
And as of June (oops sorry, July already) 2019 it still seems to be unclaimed. I wonder how many people are attempting it at any given time... just a few? Loads?

I've also read the clues but probably because I'm in the UK and therefore completely unfamiliar with the US geography etc, they mean nothing to me.

By the way I'd first heard of this on the (excellent if I may say so) Buzzfeed Unsolved youtube series.

Here's the video of their investigation:



Their follow up 'Q&A' episode is also entertaining (but be sure to watch the above video first!)... :D

 
Last edited:

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
15,456
Likes
19,537
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
#15
... I wonder how many people are attempting it at any given time... just a few? Loads? ...
Since you asked ... A newly-published online research report claims the number is even higher than Fenn's own stated estimates ...
10-year Rockies treasure hunt has lured hundreds of thousands

In the 10 years since a gold-filled treasure chest purportedly was hidden in the Rocky Mountains, as many as 433,000 "chasers" have searched for it, according to a study that noted up to 2 million people have been involved with the hunt.

Those numbers were higher than previous estimates given by millionaire Santa Fe, N.M., art dealer Forrest Fenn, 89, who has said he believed more than 350,000 people had searched for his hidden gold and jewels.

The study seeks to understand the psyche of amateur treasure hunters who "pursue the unattainable," and the online communities that have built up around them, said Alan King, a psychology professor at University of North Dakota.

King is the author of Treasure Hunting as an American Subculture: the Thrill of the Chase, published online in the journal Human Arenas last week. "The Thrill of the Chase" is the name of Fenn's memoir. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/202...ed-hundreds-of-thousands/5401581558404/?sl=19
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
15,456
Likes
19,537
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
#16
Last edited:

dr wu

Doctor Prog
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Messages
2,048
Likes
1,421
Points
184
Location
Indiana
#17
I loved those vacations in the Rocky mountain areas my parents took us on when I was young. Beautiful scenery, but also dangerous if you are alone or don't know what you are doing. Many ways to get hurt out there., but I understand the thrill of the 'hunt'.
 
Top