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$1 Million Treasure Chest Filled With Gold, Rubies + More Found in the Rocky Mountains

Courtesy Forest Fenn

A treasure chest filled with gold, rubies, emerald and diamonds has been found in the Rocky Mountains. Forest Fenn, the 89-year-old multimillionaire, former military pilot and antiques collector who created the treasure hunt, made the announcement on June 7. The man who found the treasure chest did not wish to be named.

"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 wrote. "I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot."

While battling kidney cancer years ago, Fenn was told he had a 20 percent chance of living. Thinking he was going to die, he decided to leave a box full of personal treasures in the Rockies for someone to find. He felt it was a way to leave his legacy behind, in a thrilling style that suited him. At the time, he said his legacy, contained in the chest, includes rare coins, gold nuggets, gems, jewelry, a 17th-Century Spanish ring, ancient figurines and countless other rare finds.

Thousands of hopefuls have searched for the hidden treasure every year. Travel Channel's Expedition Unknown did a whole episode covering Fenn's Treasure. Gates got to ask Fenn himself what Fenn's motive was for hiding the treasure, to which Fenn replied, "To get the people out in the sunshine again. To smell the pine needles in the mountains."

Fenn said the man who found the treasure sent him a photo of the contents of the chest.

Fenn also shared a message to all those who'd participated in the great treasure hunt.

"I congratulate the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries," Fenn wrote.

Courtesy Forest Fenn, "The Thrill of the Chase"

Fenn wrote an autobiography titled The Thrill of the Chase. In it, he included a 24-line poem of clues leading people to the treasure. Here are some of the clues shared over the years:

  • A map Fenn released in another book shows the search area as Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
  • It is hidden north of Sante Fe and 5,000 feet above sea level.
  • Fenn has said it's not associated with any structure and it's not buried in a graveyard.
  • He has also given the clue that the treasure chest is "wet", but then later joked that everything in the Rockies is technically wet.
  • Fenn has given the advice not to look anywhere a 79 to 80-year-old man can't put something, teasing that he can't climb to 14,000 feet.

Fenn is a man who loves adventure. Don't believe me? His beloved pet, Beowolf was a Louisana gator that he hand-fed. He's spent years of his life exploring and digging up artifacts across the world himself, and he even claims he was kicked out of Pompeii three times. Talk about living large.

Fenn's main motivation for hiding the treasure? To get people outside in nature, exploring their surroundings, experiencing the thrill of the search, and maybe finding themselves along the way. In a 2015 interview with CBS News, Fenn was asked who ideally would find the treasure in his mind. His response:

"A family that is joined together and gone out lookin' for the treasure four or five or ten or 50 times. Take a tent and sleeping bags and your fishing pole and go out looking. That was my primary motive."

This article was originally published in 2017. It was updated on June 8, 2020 to indicate the found treasure. 

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$1 Million Treasure Chest Filled With Gold, Rubies + More Found in the Rocky Mountains