X Marked the Spot and Started the Lawsuits
It was supposed to end with a thrilling moment of discovery that should have been shared with the whole world, but now “The Thrill of the Chase,” ended with a whimper…and a few lawsuits.
Like something out of a novel, the treasure sat for years hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Thousands competed to discover its location using only the clues from a poem written by the treasurer’s original owner – poet Forrest Fenn. In 2010, he’d thought he was going to succumb to a fatal disease and decided to convert some of his wealth into roughly $2 million in hidden treasure.
Then, he wrote a poem full of clues that could point a clever treasure hunter to its location. He waited…and waited…and waited. Suddenly, in May of 2020, news broke that the treasure had finally been found. That’s when the lawsuits began. One would think that the deaths of at least five treasure hunters over the years would have resulted in some legal actions, but it never did. You would have thought skeptics would have tried to force Fenn to reveal the site to prove it was not a fraud. They didn’t. So, who is suing him? Chicago attorney Barbara Anderson, aged 47, that’s who.
She is one of the roughly 350,000 who have sought out that treasure over the past decade. She filed a lawsuit shortly after the news broke of the treasure’s discovery. In her claim against Fenn and the yet unnamed man who found the loot, she alleges her computers were hacked and the “solve stolen,” by the anonymous discoverer. She had been the lead hunter for some time, and according to the Chicago Tribune, the man had been “taunting her with texts in recent months.” She included Fenn, as well as the unnamed man, because it was Fenn who had created the hunt. It is also Fenn who refuses to give out the man’s name.
In fact, in a move that seems extremely odd, Fenn insists he will not disclose just where the treasure was found. He won’t give even the state in which the discovery was made. He won’t give the name of the hunter who found it. He won’t even walk people through the clues to help them understand the poem and how it pointed to the location.
This is not the first story of its kind. In the 1970s, the book Masquerade sparked a nationwide treasure hunt in England. Using clues from the illustrated children’s book, hunters could locate a beautiful golden rabbit figure. This hunt also ended in scandal when it was discovered that the former girlfriend of the author helped someone else to find it and split the proceeds.
However, in that story, a guide was published to show the world how to use the clues to find the original burial site.
Now, however, anyone who tried to figure out Fenn’s riddle will have to go without any answers.
Meanwhile, Andersen says that she has taken over 20 trips to the Santa Fe area of New Mexico to seek out the treasure, which was to be donated or sold upon discovery. Her own personal fortune has suffered from the hunt, and she was even sleeping in her car when she heard the treasure had been found.
Her lawsuit, she claims, is to find the identity of the man who found it, and take action against him for is texting and taunting. Hers is not the only lawsuit filed, though. Another man was suing Fenn for planting bogus clues. A third man had just served Fenn with a lawsuit, only to hear the treasure had been found within days of his filing.
As to Fenn himself, he says he feels both happy and sad at the conclusion of the hunt, but also says he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. If Anderson gets her day in court, he’ll be doing a lot of talking.