The Controversial Jewellery Hunt That Lasted A Decade

The Controversial Jewellery Hunt That Lasted A Decade

Whether they are an ancient heirloom or a piece of heart jewellery gifted from a loved one, where a piece of jewellery comes from can matter as much as how it looks or the materials it is made from.

This was certainly the case for the coins, gold nuggets, necklaces and other rare pieces found in the mysterious Fenn Treasure box, hidden in the Rocky Mountains of the United States for ten years.

The eponymous Fenn himself was Major Forrest Fenn, a former pilot who after serving in the Vietnam War would open an art gallery and dealership, selling a variety of artefacts as well as both real and forged works of art.

However, his life and priorities changed when he was diagnosed with cancer in 1988 and told it would likely take his life. This inspired him to search for an outdoor location and hide a treasure chest in it, providing the clues to its location in a memoir entitled The Thrill Of The Chase in 2010.

The goal was to inspire people to get outdoors and enjoy an “old-fashioned adventure”, as well as help raise the spirits of people who had lost their jobs as the result of the global financial crisis starting in 2008.

As with other armchair treasure hunts, the clues were found in verses throughout his short stories, and because of the combination of widely disseminated clues and treasure potentially worth as much as £4m, hundreds of thousands of people tried their luck.

However, this caused significant controversy as people started to break national park rules, damaged cultural artefacts and even broke into Mr Fenn’s house.

Tragically, five people also died on the hunt for the treasure, and given that it was located in relatively safe verdant undergrowth in Wyoming, all of them were hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.

Ultimately it was discovered in December 2020 by a man who was later revealed to be 32-year-old medical student Jack Stuef, who found it just three months after Mr Fenn died at the age of 90.

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