Forrest Fenn’s treasure continues to make headlines

Forrest Fenn is dead, his treasure has been found according to media reports. And yet there are still discussions on the subject – for example, about the question of whether the treasure ever existed.

German version

“Whoever deciphers this poem will become a millionaire.” This was the motto of a campaign launched by wealthy US citizen Forrest Fenn in 2013.

I blogged about this story several times, and to my amazement, there were high hits each time. Actually, the matter is now closed, but following a tip from blog reader Richard SantaColoma, I’d like to revisit the Fenn treasure today.


The Forrest Fenn treasure

Forrest Fenn (1931-2020) was a US American who made a considerable fortune as an art dealer. In 2013, he announced that he had hidden a treasure somewhere. The following poem was intended to reveal (in the form of hidden clues) the location of the hiding place:

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

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.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

There was no guarantee that the treasure really existed. However, Forrest Fenn was considered serious and certainly had enough money to finance such an action. Therefore, many believed him. From time to time, Fenn gave hints like the following:

  • March 2013: The treasure is located in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, more than 1500 meters above sea level. The treasure is not found in Nevada, Idaho or Canada.
  • March 2013: The treasure chest has no connection to houses or other man-made structures.
  • Late 2013: In his book “Too far for Walk,” Fenn publishes a map of the area surrounding the treasure.
  • January 2015: The treasure chest is wet.

Five people are said to have died in the search for the treasure. Many more violated the law in other ways during the treasure hunt. The police asked Fenn to stop the operation, but he refused.

The two Austrians Richard Haderer and Bernhard Vosicky also went on a treasure hunt and made a documentary film about it called “Project Silva.” They got the money for it through a crowdfunding campaign, which I reported on.

The film had its premiere in Vienna in November 2016. I haven’t seen it yet. Unfortunately, I also don’t know where you can watch it. At least there is a website where you can also see a trailer:


Did the treasure really exist?

On June 6, 2020, Forrest Fenn confirmed that the treasure had been found. The finder had sent him a photo of the found box as proof. Three months later, Fenn died at the age of 90.

Allegedly, the treasure was located in the U.S. state of Wyoming. The exact location has not been made public. There is also no photo. The alleged finder initially remained anonymous.

In December 2020, after Fenn’s death, a medical student named Jack Stuef revealed himself as the alleged finder of the treasure. However, he too did not reveal the location of the find and did not publish a photo of the treasure.

To this day, there is no proof that the treasure actually existed.


A lawsuit

Blog reader Richard SantaColoma alerted me to a new development related to the Fenn treasure.

In July 2021, a French treasure hunter named Bruno Raphoz filed a $10 million lawsuit against Fenn’s heirs. Raphoz believes the treasure was originally hidden in Colorado. He made arrangements to recover the chest and informed Fenn. However, Corona caused this endeavor to be delayed. Soon after, Fenn announced that the treasure had been found in Wyoming.

Raphoz claims that Fenn took advantage of the delay to move the chest from Colorado to Wyoming. In his opinion, this cheated him out of the millions he could have pocketed as the finder of the treasure.


Can the poem be deciphered?

The Fenn treasure is still a mystery. These could possibly all be solved if someone succeeded in deciphering the poem and thereby locating the place where it was hidden.

If one knew where the treasure was supposed to have been hidden, then it would also be clear whether this was in Colorado or Wyoming. The legal dispute could thus be clarified. It would also be possible to determine if there were any traces of hiding or recovery at the site in question. If not, this would indicate that the treasure did not exist.

Only one thing one could not expect as a solver of the poem probably: to find a treasure. Because if this existed, it has long since a new owner. Perhaps a reader has nevertheless desire to look at the poem again more exactly. I gladly accept possible solutions.

If you want to add a comment, you need to add it to the German version here.

Further reading: Der Schatz und das Kryptogramm des Piraten “La Buse”


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