An eccentric millionaire has hidden a treasure chest filled with $2 million worth of gold coins and jewels deep within the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Although this may sound like the premise of an adventure novel or an Indiana Jones movie, this fascinating story is very much real. Forrest Fenn, an art dealer who was shot down twice while serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, is the mastermind behind an extraordinary treasure hunt that's drawn over 30,000 eager visitors to New Mexico.
The idea came to Fenn in 1988, when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Although he eventually beat his cancer, Fenn was nevertheless inspired to fill a wooden chest with gold coins and nuggets, ancient Chinese carved jade figures, pre-Columbian gold animal artifacts, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, diamonds, and other priceless objects. After he hid the chest in 2010, Fenn published a book featuring a poem that contains clues to the riddle–The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir, available only on Amazon or in one Santa Fe bookstore. According to Vice, profits from book sales are donated to help people who can't afford cancer treatment, so naysayers can rest assured knowing that the incredible scheme isn't just a publicity hoax.
For 84-year-old Fenn, the goal of this wild treasure hunt isn't money or fame, but simply to get people out of their homes and outside for an adventure. “I wanted the monetary value to be a consideration for those who are looking for it, but mostly my motive was to get kids off the couch and away from their texting machines and out in the mountains,” he told KOAT News. “I would love if someone found it tomorrow, but if nobody found it for a hundred years, that's okay with me too.”