It is a tale worthy of a blockbuster adventure movie.
After ten years, hundreds of thousands of attempts, and at least five lives lost, a chest of buried treasure has finally been discovered.
A decade ago, an eccentric art and antiques dealer buried around $2 million worth of jewels, gold, and artifacts in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains and invited would-be treasure hunters to come and try to find it.
To the victor in the hunt would go the spoils, the art dealer Forrest Fenn declared at the time.
The lure of such riches attracted hundreds of thousands of brave treasure hunters to try their luck.
Now, after so many tried and failed, an unnamed explorer has finally cracked the code. Fenn announced on Sunday that the treasure had finally been found.
“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,” he wrote. “So the search is over.”
New Mexico authorities had urged people to give up the hunt after Paris Wallace, a Colorado pastor, died in pursuit of the treasure in 2017. But Fenn refused to call off the contest.
Fenn, now 89, planted clues to the treasure’s location in his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, self-published in 2010, with a 24-line poem inviting adventure seekers to search for the 13th-century Romanesque bronze chest and its valuable contents.
He estimates that some 300,000 people have taken up the challenge over the years, some quitting their jobs in order to dedicate themselves to the task.
Fenn was inspired to create the treasure hunt to offer people who had lost their jobs following the 2008 financial crisis some hope. He said he also wanted to encourage people to explore the wilderness and seek old-fashioned adventures.
The veteran art dealer admitted, however, that he didn’t necessarily expect anyone to succeed in the task.
“I’m actually a little bit shocked, because I hid it in a pretty good place and lots of people over the years couldn’t find it,” he told local ABC affiliate Denver7. “But this man followed the clues in my poem, and they took him right to the treasure, and that is what it was all about.”
The world awaits the identity of the new owner of the treasure. And possibly also that movie script.