X marks the spot: treasure hunters in shock after reported $2m find in Rocky Mountains
Treasure hunters have responded with shock, joy, and unbelief to the news that a chest of gems, gold, and antiques valued at up to $ 2 million has been found in the Rockies.
"I had every emotion under the sun," said Sacha Dent from Kansas, who spent years doing a search that killed up to five people.
"It was shock and sadness first, then a mixture of happiness, relief and excitement on Monday," said Dent. "I have invested six years in this project. Now it is finally over. I am very happy for the person who found it."
An eccentric New Mexico millionaire named Forrest Fenn said he hid the bronze box in the Rocky Mountains in 2010. The only clues to the whereabouts of the prize were in a cryptic 24-line poem by Fenn that was added to the last pages of his autobiography The Thrill of Hunting.
"Start where warm water ends / And take it down into the gorge / Not far, but too far to run. / Put under Brown's homeland, ”says the second verse of Fenn's poem, in which treasure hunters would search five western states.
On June 7, Fenn, a former Air Force fighter pilot who became an art and antique dealer, told Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper that a man from the eastern United States had recently found his treasure, the value of which was between US $ 1 million and US $ 2 million -Dollar lay. According to Fenn's website, it was "found under a starry sky in the lush, wooded vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and hadn't moved away from where I hid it more than 10 years ago".
Neither the name of the finder nor the location of the treasure was disclosed. "I don't know the person who found it, but the poem in my book put him right there," wrote Fenn on his website.
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The discovery marks the end of a modern treasure hunt like no other in history.
"This was a terrible end to something that has been so important in my life for eight years," said Cynthia Meachum, who is part of a vibrant "chase" community of Fenn treasure hunters. "It affected me a lot more than I ever thought."
According to Fenn, the idea that inspired so many was developed in 1988 after he was diagnosed with cancer. The prospect of death made him think he was leaving some of his fortune and even his own bones in a treasure chest somewhere in the mountains. When Fenn recovered, the idea remained and he meticulously curated the contents of the chest for years.
In an interview with the Guardian in 2018, Fenn described a "necklace that is approximately 2,000 years old and contains fetishes made of quartz crystal and cast gold jaguar claws and is absolutely wonderful". “There are two ancient Chinese jade carvings of human faces. You only want to cry when you see her. "
Fenn hoped the treasure would be an adventure that could take people “off the couch” into nature.
"It has given us all a great adventure," said Dent, who spent two years a week searching north New Mexico.
However, up to five people died looking for Fenn's chest, and Fenn has been criticized for endangering life, enabling an unhealthy obsession, and even lying about the existence of the treasure.
"I would ask him to put an end to this nonsense," said New Mexico State Chief of Police Pete Kassetas after a treasure hunter's body was recovered from the Rio Grande in 2017, days after he disappeared. He said to ABC: "I want people to have fun and I want people to be adventurous, but the reality is when you have about $ 2 million it is rumored that people make bad decisions. "
There are stories of people quitting their jobs and emptying their bank accounts to join the persecution. Fenn himself received death threats and was the victim of attempted break-ins in his home.
A 2015 photo by Cynthia Meachum shows an area view of the area in search of the treasure hunter Randy Bilyeu who disappeared on the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico.
Others have said the whole thing is a joke.
"I don't think there was a hidden treasure," said Linda Bilyeu, Randy Bilyeu's ex-wife, who died looking for the treasure. "Fenn is a corrupt man looking for attention on how to get there."
The controversy continued after their alleged discovery. The lack of photos or information about the location of the chest has led some to question whether it was found at all - although Fenn has promised to elaborate on it in the coming days.
"Give us something so we know if we were around," said Meachum, who made 200 trips and invested thousands of hours. "I have no closure right now."
"A third thinks it's a joke," Dent said. "A third thought that it was never found. And then there are the rest of us who think that's great. Someone found it. Now let's go on with our life. "
Dent, who estimates that she has made 300 trips in search of the treasure, added that knowing its location cannot be a good thing. "What if you were 100% right and just missed it? Or what if you find out that you did nothing right and wasted all the time? As long as we don't know the place, we can all be right in our own thoughts, ”she said.
Still, she felt enriched by the search, if not the treasure itself.
The winner “did something tens of thousands of people missed. If I could say anything to the finder, I would congratulate him. We wish you all the luck in the world. "
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