In what hopefully proves to be the final twist in the tale of the Forrest Fenn treasure, after months of anonymity, a Michigan man is claiming that he was the finder of the hidden chest.
A grandson of recently deceased Forrest Fenn has confirmed that Jack Stuef, a Michigan medical school student, discovered the treasure chest allegedly worth millions, Outside magazine revealed in December.
“I’ve probably thought about it (the treasure) for at least a couple hours a day, every day, since I learned about it,” Stuef told Outside. “Every day.”
The treasure chest is a container that Fenn, an author and antique collector, hid in the wilderness back in 2010. As an estimated 4-5 people have died trying to find it, the treasure has dredged up quite a bit of controversy. At this point, the tale feels more like a Shakespearean play than real life.
Here’s how it goes:
Back in 2010, Fenn hid a treasure chest in the Rocky Mountains, apparently filled with gold and valuable antiques. For the last decade, more than 350,000 people have scoured the wilderness in search of it. Some of them have gone as far as to give up their jobs and spend their savings in search of the treasure.
In June, Fenn claimed that a man (who did not wish to be identified at the time - Stuef) discovered the chest. To confirm he had found the treasure, Fenn said the man sent him a photo of the chest. Fenn refused to disclose the name of the treasure finder.
“Because I promised the finder I would not reveal who found it or where, I have remained mostly silent,” Fenn claimed on dalneitzel.com, his chronicler. “However, the finder understands how important some closure is for many searchers, so today he agreed that we should reveal that the treasure was found in Wyoming.”
He claimed the man who found the cache was able to locate the treasure in the Rockies because of a poem Fenn had written in his 2010 memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase.” The poem apparently held clues as to the treasure’s whereabouts. Fenn wrote the poem to inspire people to go on a good ol’ fashioned adventure.
Because Fenn was so tight-lipped over the details, some speculated whether the treasure was ever actually found. To push back, Fenn released photos of the cache.
“The finder wants me to remain silent and I always said the finder gets to make those two calls. Who and where,” Fenn wrote.
For some, Fenn’s announcement brought skepticism. Linda Bilyeu, the ex-wife of Randy Bilyeu, a Colorado man who died hunting for the treasure in 2016, is one such outspoken skeptic.
“I believe he never hid the treasure,” she told Westword. “He needed attention and this is how he got it. Fenn needed more attention, which is why he said the treasure has been found with ‘no proof.’”
However, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, in early September, the 90-year-old Santa Fe antique dealer died of natural causes in his home. It appeared the public would never know whether the identity of who found the treasure would ever be revealed.
Cut to December and an interview with Outside magazine, and the mystery is solved. Will this be the end of the Forrest Fenn treasure drama? Only time will tell.