|Thanks Forrest. I was wondering about the Gold Coins in the chest. Did you have these in a collection before putting them in the chest or did you gather these specifically for the chest? ~x||I had gold coins for sale in my gallery because they made great gifts. Gold changes in value every minute around the clock so I kept my eye on what was happening internationally, and tried to buy when the price was down. It took me ten years to amass the hundreds of gold nuggets that are in the treasure chest. Many were obtained at gun shows where I always paid too much for them. f|
|N/A - Consolidated quotes appearing throughout the article.||There are hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets in that treasure chest. Two of them as big as a chicken egg. If nobody finds the treasure, I promise you, 1,000 years from now, people will still be looking.|
|N/A - Consolidated quotes appearing throughout the article.||mostly American eagles and double eagles, hundreds of gold nuggets, some as large as chicken eggs, ancient Chinese carved jade figures, Pre-Columbian gold animal artifacts, lots of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds and other things...no need to dig up old outhouses, the treasure is not associated with any structure....Somebody could find it tomorrow and it may not be found for a thousand years. I’m looking at the big picture. A lot of people who are searching for the treasure don’t see it the same way I do. I would love if someone found it tomorrow but if nobody found it for a hundred years, that’s okay with me too.|
|N/A - Consolidated quotes appearing throughout the article.||Mostly American eagles and double eagles, hundreds of gold nuggets, some as large as chicken eggs, ancient Chinese carved jade figures, Pre-Columbian gold animal artifacts, lots of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds and other things... 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 out in the mountains...I think it's out of control... Somebody could find it tomorrow and it may not be found for a thousand years. I'm looking at the big picture. A lot of people who are searching for the treasure don't see it the same way I do. I would love if someone found it tomorrow but if nobody found it for a hundred years, that's okay with me too.|
|N/A - Consolidated quotes appearing throughout the article.||No need to dig up the old outhouses, the treasure is not associated with any structure. The treasure is not in a graveyard. I know the treasure chest is wet. (265 gold coins) mostly American eagles and double eagles, hundreds of gold nuggets, some as large as chicken eggs, ancient Chinese carved jade figures, Pre-Columbian gold animal artifacts, lots of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds and other things.|
|“What is the most valuable object in the chest?” ed||Hard question to answer Ed. A beautiful gold nugget can be worth four times the weight value. There are several in the chest that fit that description. So maybe that’s a good answer to your question. f|
|8991||7/6/2016||Great Big Story|
|Link: Click Here
Interviewer: In 2010 this man, Forrest Fenn, hid a chest hid with gold and rare artifacts somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The search for this million dollar treasure has obsessed thousands of seekers worldwide. And the trail starts with this poem which Fenn wrote. It contains nine clues that point to the treasure's location.
(0:25) Fenn: It's here someplace. Are we rolling? As I have gone alone in there and with my treasures bold I can keep my secret where and hint of riches new and old.
Interviewer: Fenn's motivation for hiding the treasure was to give hope to those knocked down by the recession and to inspire them to explore the wild.
(0:55) Fenn: I found a beautiful little Romanesque treasure chest and I started filling up with, with gold coins and gold nuggets and about 280 rubies. There are two Ceylon sapphires. There are eight emeralds, a bunch of diamonds but mostly gold. I don't know what it's worth and I don't even want to think about that. You're not going to be disappointed if you find that treasure chest.
Cynthia: I'm Cynthia Meachum and I am a full-time treasure hunter. I have been looking for Fenn's treasure now for a little over three and a half years.
(1:35) Fenn: I hid the treasure chest more than 8.25 miles north of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains some place. Nobody knows but me.
Cynthia Meachum: The poem that you have to solve Forrest always said you have to find where warm waters halt and to me this is where our warm waters halt and that's where I think that we need to find the treasure chest.
Interviewer: The thrill of this chase for Fenn's treasure has led many to leave the safety of known trails and well-beaten paths.
Marc Howard: The mountains are very unforgiving. It's extremely important that you know what you're doing and you know where you're going. You can end up in big trouble really quickly. There's even one hiker that's been lost looking for the treasure and he hasn't been found yet.
Interviewer: To Fenn's knowledge the treasure remains a hidden mystery but the real reward should come from the hunt.
Cynthia: I was positive this was our warm waters halt and unfortunately I just, I don't think that this is going to be the spot. It doesn't matter what state you treasure hunt in you're going to have beautiful scenery like this and it doesn't matter if you find the treasure chest or not this is finding the treasure right here.
(3:09) Fenn: So hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold. If you are brave and in the wood I give you title to the gold.
|Link: Click Here
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, there's a bronze chest filled with gold and precious gems. The search for this hidden treasure has become a hobby for some, an obsession for others and, for one recent searcher, a fatal pursuit. Meanwhile, the man who hid the treasure marvels at the great chase that he set off. NPR's John Burnett has our story.
JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Forrest Fenn is an 85-year-old millionaire in Santa Fe, N.M. A former Vietnam fighter pilot, a self-taught archaeologist and a super successful art dealer, he's now best known for his treasure.
FORREST FENN: No one knows where that treasure chest is but me. They can go get it, but I'm not going to tell them where it is. If I die tomorrow, the knowledge of that location goes to - in the coffin with me.
BURNETT: The ornate, Romanesque box is 10 inches by 10 inches and weighs about 40 pounds loaded. Fenn has said only that it's hidden in the Rocky Mountains somewhere between Santa Fe and the Canadian border at an elevation above 5,000 feet. It's not in a mine, a graveyard or near a structure. For further clues, you have to read the poem in his self-published book, "The Thrill Of The Chase."
(Reading) Begin it where warm waters halt and take it in the canyon down. Not far, but too far to walk. Put in below the home of Brown.
SACHA JOHNSTON: Where warm waters halt. No one agrees on what that means. Does that mean where two rivers converge? Does that mean where a hot spring pours into a river? Does that mean at the Continental Divide?
BURNETT: Sacha Johnston is an avid searcher in Albuquerque. She runs a website that sells Fenn treasure tchotchkes. Now, six years after publication of the poem, tens of thousands of people have reportedly gone looking for Forrest Fenn's treasure, thought to be worth well over a million dollars. The treasure's creator sits at his laptop in the study of his Santa Fe manse, his blue eyes twinkling mischievously. He reads emails all day from treasure hunters imploring him for just one more clue.
FENN: That's the kind of email that I don't respond to because if you want me to give you a clue, I'm not going to answer your email.
BURNETT: Surrounding him is his extraordinary collection of Native American artifacts - Apache dolls, moccasin boots, buffalo skulls.
FENN: I love antiques, particularly American Indian.
BURNETT: In the '90s, he earned the opprobrium of Southwestern archaeologists over his excavation of a Pueblo Indian site that he owned. They consider him a plunderer. Fenn thinks they're clubby fussbudgets. The war over Indian relics has largely subsided. Today, Fenn is all about the treasure. He says he hid the box in the midst of the Great Recession to cheer folks up and to get them off their couches and into the great outdoors. And yes, he admits to being a little off-kilter.
FENN: Sure, I'm eccentric. I pride myself in being eccentric. I don't want to go down that center line like a lot of people do.
BURNETT: The hunt for the treasure can become an obsession. Randy Bilyeu was a 54-year-old retired mechanic who had moved from Florida to Colorado to look for the bronze box full time. He was last seen alive on January 5. His car, a raft and his little dog were found near the Rio Grande south of Santa Fe. Fenn is delighted the quest has motivated so many people to discover the Rocky Mountains. But he cautions –
FENN: You know, we don't want to get anybody else lost. Be prepared. Take a GPS, take at least one other person with you and wait 'til the snow melts and the ice melts.
BURNETT: Is the treasure really worth risking your life over? Doug Preston is a best-selling author and a longtime friend of Forrest Fenn. He says he saw the chest before Fenn hid it and it was filled with gold nuggets, gold coins, pre-Colombian gold figures, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds.
Is there any documentary evidence that Forrest Fenn actually hid this treasure chest?
DOUG PRESTON: Well, as far as proof goes, I - there's no proof. It's hard to prove a negative, and the negative is that the chest is gone. And also, knowing Forrest for as long as I have, I can absolutely say with 100 percent confidence that he would never pull off a hoax. I'm absolutely sure that he hid that treasure chest.
BURNETT: A noted New Mexico archaeologist contacted for this story says he, too, saw the treasure with his own eyes, and he also believes that Forrest Fenn is not a trickster.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Reading) So hear me all and listen good. Your effort will be worth the cold. If you are brave and in the wood, I give you title to the gold.
BURNETT: The searchers read and re-read the cryptic poem and pore over topographic maps, waiting for the aha moment. Then they trek through aspen forests, explore canyons and belay down cliff sides looking for the treasure. Cynthia Meachum, a retired high-tech worker, says she's left her home in Albuquerque to look for the treasure at least 60 times.
CYNTHIA MEACHUM: You know, you go out, you look, you don't find it, you come back home, you go through your clues again, your solves again and you think, you know, where did I go wrong? And you go out and you do it again. And I have actually seen some of the most spectacular scenery because of this that I ever would've seen.
BURNETT: And for that, Forrest Fenn would be pleased. John Burnett, NPR News, Santa Fe.
|9054||11/2/2013||Moby Dickens Bookshop, Taos, NM|
|Link: Click Here
The following is a transcription of the video referenced above. Questions and comments from the audience are presented in italics. Time stamps are offered when Forrest takes a question, and at other useful places during the video.
Well I always thought I deserved a throne. I’m very glad to be here. I want to thank Jay and Carolyn and Dorothy for bringing me up here. Jay asked me to say a few things about my treasure story. Is there anyone here that knows about the story? Who in this room has not heard about my treasure story? Oh that’s pretty good.
Well, uh, in 1988 I had cancer and they told me I was going to die. That’s a good way to start off a talk. They gave me a one in five chance of living three years. And, a lot of things were happening about that time. I was selling my gallery in Santa Fe, and I had a lot of clients that were coming to see me to do different things, and it just so happened that Ralph Lauren came to my house. He collects antique Indian things like I did. He didn’t know that I had cancer. But we were standing in my library and I had something that he wanted. It was a beautiful Sioux Indian bonnet with white ermines skins hanging on it, and split antelope horns, and it was a wonderful thing and he wanted to buy it. And I said I don’t want to sell it. He said you have so many of those things and you can’t take it with you. I said, well then I’m not going. And we laughed and changed the subject.
That night I started thinking about that. Who says I can’t take it with me? Why do I have to live by everybody else’s rules? If I’m going to die of cancer, I’m going to take some stuff with me, and I made up my mind. So I bought this beautiful little treasure chest: 10 inches by 10 inches and 6 inches high. Wonderful Romanesque thing. An antique scholar told me that it was probably Romanesque, 11th or 12th Century. Maybe it held a bible or a Book of Days. But it was wonderful; had a great patina on it. And I started filling it up with things that I thought would be attractive. There are 265 gold coins - American, mostly eagles and double eagles. There’s some Middle Eastern gold coins that date from the 13th century. There’s a little bottle of gold dust in there. And there are hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets, mostly from Alaska - placer nuggets. Two of them are so large that they are the same size as a hen’s egg. They weigh more than a pound apiece.
And there are, in this chest… I put hundreds of rubies. There are two beautiful Ceylon sapphires. There are eight emeralds. Lots of little diamonds. Pre-Columbian Wak’as. Uhh, 2,000 year old bracelets, and a Tayrona (Tyrona) and Sinu necklace that dates probably 2,500 years old. The fetishes on the necklace are made of quartz crystal and carnelian and semi-precious stones. I told myself that I wanted it to be visual enough so that when a person found the treasure chest, and opened it for the first time, they would just lean back and start laughing.
And, I’ve shown the chest to a number of people in Santa Fe and that’s what they all did. So I invite you to go look for the treasure chest. And, my plan was to, uhh...If I was going to die of cancer, uh, they said I had a one in five chance of living three years, so that told me I had a year probably, anyway. So, uhh, I decided I knew where I was going to hide the treasure chest. And I told myself that with my last gasping breath, I was going to fling myself on top of that treasure chest and let my bones go back to the dirt. It was a great plan. The trouble with it was, I got well. And it ruined the story. But I told myself, just because I got well, doesn’t mean I could not hide the treasure chest anyway. And I did that and there's… In my book, The Thrill of The Chase, there’s a poem in there that has nine clues in it. If you can follow the clues to the treasure chest, you can have the treasure chest. (Pause). And, uh, I thought about that a lot. And when I took, when I hid the treasure chest, I had to make two trips because it weighs 42 pounds. It’s small, but it’s...gold is heavy. And when I hid it and was walking back to my car, I started laughing out loud, and I said, “Forrest Fenn did you really do that?”
But I had a hole card, I told myself if I decide later I didn’t want to do it, I could go back and get it. But the more I thought about it, the more I said, yeah, this is perfect. Why can’t I influence somebody a thousand years from now? A hundred years from now? Okay, next weekend. If you can find it, I think it will be worth your while. A lady reporter from Texas called me on the phone and she said, “Mr. Fenn, who is your audience for this strange book?” I said, “My audience is every redneck in Texas with a pickup truck, a wife and twelve kids and he lost his job.” I said, “Throw a bedroll in the back of your truck and go look for the treasure chest - take the kids. Get the kids out of the game room. Away from their little playing machines and let them breathe the sunshine and the things the forest has to offer - a wonderful opportunity.
Just this past week, I passed 25,000 emails from people, and probably 15,000 of them have told me, “Mr. Fenn, we are not going to find that chest - we know that. But I want to thank you for getting me and my kids off the couch and out into the trees.” So, uh, you know I would go on and on but I don’t want to talk too much I would entertain some questions if anyone has one. (Pause). Yes sir.
(off-microphone question about proceeds of book)
You know, I’m having trouble hearing him. Can somebody help? What?
Did I understand that the proceeds of your book are going to the cancer, uh, foundation?
Let me explain that to you. Uh, Dorothy Massey at the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe owns these books. Jay bought them from Dorothy. The deal I made with Dorothy was that she can have the books, but she has to put 10% of the gross sales aside for a cancer fund. I think we have about $50,000 or something in that fund now. We’re looking, we’re looking for someone to… that we can feel proud about helping. Uh, if I had my way, we’d find some little minority kid that can’t afford what it takes to get well and spend our money that way. And, uh, I don't’ know if that’ll happen or not, but that’s the plan anyway. Is there another question?
I have one about the poem. If you follow the poem precisely, will you find yourself switching back?
If I follow the clues in the poem precisely, would I what?
Will you find yourself switching back? Making a loop.
This gal’s dangerous, you know! (pause) Would I find myself switching back… I think I can say no to that without giving away too much of the clues. Uh, nobody is gonna happen on that treasure chest. You’re gonna have to figure out the clues in the poem, and go to it. There are several people that have deciphered the first two clues. I don’t think they knew it, because they walked right on past the treasure chest. And I’m not gonna tell those people who they are because one of them particularly would faint, I know. And she’d tear the countryside up trying to figure out where they’d been. But, uh, it’s an opportunity to… has… doesn’t have any downsides I think. Everybody wins if you go out looking for it. Another question?
Given that you simply gave, gave it away, you, you gave this treasure away to the cosmos, to whomever, uh, did you have any heart wish of how treasure might be used for good?
Bless you. (laughter)
I don’t feel, I don’t feel that I’ve given it away. Whoever finds it is gonna earn it. And once they find it, and have it in their possession I’m out of the picture. They can do whatever they want to with it. You can’t… I don’t want to make rules for people after the fact. Yes sir?
How would you know that it hasn’t already been found?
I’ve been asked that question a lot… I really don’t want to answer the question because that would be an answer that I don’t really want to reveal. But I can tell you that no one has found the treasure. Yes sir?
When do you think the treasure would be found? Do you think it’s a ten year? A hundred year? When do you think it will actually be discovered?
You know, uh… Why don’t you ask me how deep is a hole? (Laughter) It’s not predictable. But I know, I think, this last summer, there were, I’m guessing, but I think there were 35,000 people out looking for the treasure chest.
Are you concerned that once it is discovered that your private spot will be exposed to so many people, that it will no longer become special? Or…
There’s all kinds of case scenarios. If a, if a person finds it, and he doesn’t want the IRS to know it, then maybe the spot will never be revealed. (Laughter) In my opinion, the type of person that’s gonna find the treasure chest is the type of person that can’t keep it quiet. Uh, but, I’m not worried about that really. Yes ma’am?
You said that it took you two trips to hide the treasure? Did you hide it two times, or did you carry it the second time?
I hid the whole thing in one spot. But it took me two trips to get to that spot with the weight of those… of the treasure chest.
From the car to the spot?
(Forrest nods). Very special spot.
Could you tell us more about what’s in your book? Like, it’s not just a poem, but it’s a memoir right?
It’s a memoir. You know, uh, I never did go to college. I prayed for D’s in high school and nobody ever listened. I graduated because my father was the principal. (Laughter). And so, I never did read the great books. And I talk in my book about Hemingway and, and other writers that are very internationally celebrated and so I went down to a bookstore and got a couple of those books and I started to read them and I told myself these things are no good. For Whom The Bell Tolls - I read about a third of that thing and threw it in the trash. And I started to wonder… Why does everyone… I mean, you may think those are wonderful books, but I’m a little bit weird I have to admit that.
But then Pierre, err, J.D. Salinger died. And Diane Sawyer’s talking about how wonderful he was that he wrote books and put them in a vault so nobody could see them. And I told myself - this is my kind of guy. So, so I went down and I bought Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Uh. And I thought I was gonna like that book because I had never heard of the guy. And I said, everybody thinks the book’s pretty good and he’s nobody so, it must be a pretty good book. So I started reading it and, and I read a little bit and I put it down. And I started thinking about it, and I read some more. It took me about a day and a half to finish that book, and I wasn’t ready for it to end when it was over. I started to tell myself, uh, you know if this is a good book, if Catcher in the Rye is a good book, I can do that. (pause) It’s nothing but a guy talking to himself really is what it is. And I said, I can do that. And so, I started writing my memoir. I started remembering, and I would encourage all of you to write your memoir. You don’t have to edit it. Send it to the Library of Congress - they love those things. Start with your earliest recollections like I did. I remember when my grandmother told me about when she was a kid in Fort Worth watching the Comanche and Kaweah Indians run through their barnyard trying to catch chickens.
I have two daughters that are in their fifties who don’t know who Clark Gable was. So I wanted my kids, my family, my grandkids, to know something about my family. Something about me, and my wife, and what we’ve done, and where we’ve been. Kind of a peek back into our lives, and so that’s… And at the same time, I was thinking about my treasure chest. How do I bring all of these things together?
So it was 15 years from the time that I got cancer until the time that I hid the treasure chest. 15 years. And… The poem in my book, is something that I changed over and over again. When you read the poem, it looks like just simple words there. But I guarantee you I worked on that thing… I felt like an architect drawing that poem. And the original version of that poem said, “Take the treasure chest, but leave my bones and go in peace.” Or, something like that. But then I got well, and it ruined that story.
But, uh, I believe very strongly in that uh… I started making bells out of bronze and little jars. In the jars I put my autobiography in the jars and seal them up tight. And I’ve buried eight of those things way out in the desert, and in the mountains. Nobody knows where. I couldn't even go back to them; I’ve hidden them so well. Who says I can’t influence the future? Who says I can’t take it with me? I don’t believe in those things. Which is, which is best, uh, laying on the ground, on a treasure chest, your bones rotting in the sun? Or laying in a hospital room with tubes down your throat and your nose and machines everywhere, people watching you all the time. Which would you rather have? That’s my philosophy. But I’ll admit, I’m a maverick in that area.
My father had pancreas cancer. They gave him six months to live. Eighteen months later he was still fishing up in Yellowstone in those lakes and fast streams. But one night, at about ten o’clock at night, he said call me on the phone. I was in Santa Fe and he was in Temple, Texas. He said, “Forrest, I just want you to know that I’m getting ready to take 50 sleeping pills.” And I said, “Dad, I’ll be there first thing in the morning.” I had an airplane. He said, “That’s too late.” And it was too late. But I respected him, because he wanted to do things on his own terms. What’s wrong with making your own rules about things? He could have gone into the hospital and withered away for another three weeks or a month. That’s no way to live. And all of these thoughts manifest themselves in my treasure chest. The thrill of the chase - I keep going back to the thrill of the chase. And you can think I’m crazy if you want to, and a lot of people have said that but, it’s something that I believe in. And that treasure chest, I have said, is in a very special place to me. If I get another disease, on my last dying gasp, I’m going to throw myself on top of that treasure chest. And I’m going to dare you to come find me.
Bella, do you have a question?
Uh, Mr. Fenn, we actually have one that was sent to us. And since you were speaking about the poem, uh, Dal Neitzel has asked if you would kindly read the poem? Of which, I happen to have a copy of said poem.
Damn Dal Neitzel’s always getting me in trouble. (Laughter)
I’m just the messenger.
He thinks he's safe ‘cause he lives on a little island, Lummi Island, out of Seattle. I’ve got his number though.
(address crowd from memory)
As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold
I can keep my secret where
And hint of riches new and old
Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.
From there it’s no place for the meek
The end is ever drawing nigh.
There’ll be no paddle up your creek
Just heavy loads and water high.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze
Look quickly down your quest to cease
But tarry scant with marvel gaze
Just take the chest and go in peace.
So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.
So hear me all and listen good.
(Pause, reaches for glasses) I might have to read this thing
So hear me all and listen good.
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.
And I view that as a challenge. There are so many things in life that are wonderful. And so many things that are not wonderful. And this world is in trouble; I don’t need to tell you that. So, I think we need to… My father used to tell me, “Grab every banana.” And, he told me that a hundred times. Finally, he and I collected arrowheads together. And we were thinking about going out to a friend’s farm that was newly plowed to look for arrowheads, but it was drizzling rain. I didn’t much want to go, but my father did. So, we were discussing and he said, “Grab every banana.” I said, “Father, you’ve been telling me that for years.” I said, “I don’t know what you mean.” You know what he said to me? He said, “Now that you asked the question, maybe you’re old enough to know.” Pretty profound, huh? He said, “The banana tree doesn’t go by… The banana… The train doesn’t go by that banana tree but one time.” He said, “You should reach out and grab every banana on the way back.” I thought that was pretty good. And let me tell you I’ve grabbed a few bananas in my time. Grabbed a few lemons, too. Yes, sir?
Are you familiar with the Poet, Robert Service?
The Poet, Robert Service
You’d give him a run for his money.
Well, thank you. Thank you. Well, I like poetry, and I can walk down the street and see something and I quote poetry to myself. I did that coming up here today in the car with Dorothy Massey. I’ll read you a poem from Alice in Wonderland.
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shiny tail
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every shiny scale
How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spread his claws
And welcome little fishies in
With gently smiling jaws
(Laughter). I like that. You may not know who Senator Al Simpson is. Senator from Wyoming, retired. He can quote the entire book from Alice in Wonderland. Yes, sir?
Would you want to say anything about the accumulation of that treasure and why you’re...
Jay - you got that?
So, he’s wanting to know on the accumulation of what you put in the chest, were they personal type items? How hard was it for you to put some of those items in there? How did you determine what you placed in the chest?
Thank you for asking that question, Sir. I wanted that treasure chest to be part of me. If I’m gonna take it with me, I don’t want it to be a bunch of abstract items. I put things in that treasure chest that are very dear to me. One of them, probably the cheapest thing in that treasure chest, is a wonderful little bracelet. It has 22 prehistoric turquoise beads in it. The beads were found by Richard Weatherall. The first day that he discovered Mesa Verde and climbed down into the ruin from the canyon top, he picked up those 22 little turquoise beads. In 1901, when Richard Weatherall was excavating Mesa Verde, there was an Indian working for him that made a bracelet out of those 22 little turquoise, disc beads, they call it a row bracelet. It was made about 1902 or so. And, Richard Weatherall sold it to Fred Harvey of the Harvey Houses. And years later, that whole Harvey collection was given to the Hurt Museum in Phoenix. But I won that bracelet in a pool game with Byron Harvey, who was the nephew of Fred Harvey. That’s how I got that bracelet. So I have an association with… It’s the only bracelet, Indian bracelet, that I ever had that fit me. I used, I used to walk down the street showing off that bracelet worth about $350. But, you know, it was special to me.
Have your grandkids ever tried looking for the treasure?
No, but I’ll tell you an interesting story. Some of the emails I get from people - I got one last week from a lady about your age. You must be 11? Nine. Nine. She said, “Mr. Fenn, if I find the treasure chest, do I have to share it with my brother?” (Laughter). So I get all kinds of emails. This one lady said, “My truck is not very reliable. If I go up in the mountains, on the way to get your treasure chest, and my truck breaks down, will you come and pick me up and take me the rest of the way to the treasure?”
Do you think kids will ever find the treasure?
Do I think kids will find the treasure? You worry me a little bit. (Laughter). Uh, yeah, I think kids may have an advantage. Don’t expect me to explain that, but sure. Their eyes are better. They’re more agile, they have more energy, why should a kid take a back seat in the treasure hunt?
Is that your daughter there?
She’s dangerous. Ok - more questions. Yes, Sir.
You put a lot of people on a very bold, exciting adventure. And at the same time, you have put yourself on an adventure of watching all of these people, and how are you enjoying that?
Oh tell me not, in mournful numbers Life is but an empty dream For the soul is dead that slumbers And things are never what they seem
I’m enjoying it, yeah. I didn’t expect it...You know, I always figured the treasure chest was a bomb, but I didn’t know that it had a fuse until Dorothy came along. And a couple of other people that started giving publicity to the book. And now it’s out... And no matter what happens now, it belongs to the ages, I think. And sure there’s a… people talk about, “Mr. Fenn is that your legacy?” I don’t, I don’t like that. I don’t like the philosophy of that. I don’t like the word… Once a person dies, that should be the end of it. If you want to say something kind about me, say it to me while I’m alive, don’t wait till I die. And let’s don’t talk about legacies. Yes, sir?
So, when you had cancer, uh, and you got well, and you decided to hide the treasure, do you think that maybe fate, maybe you got well so you would hide the treasure?
Uh, I believe that there’s a higher hand, someplace. I don’t know what it is, but, uh, I think that I’ve lived a charmed life. Uh, here’s a little kid from a small town in Texas making D’s and F’s in high school. Joined the Air Force as a pilot, err private, became a fighter pilot, uh… In 19… When I was 27 years old and a fighter pilot in Germany, I went down to Supply and checked out an atomic bomb. I signed a form. I owned that atomic bomb - 61 kiloton bomb. The bomb at Hiroshima was 17,000 tons. This was 61,000 tons. And, I thought that, you know, if I can do that, uh, from my background, then look at what other people can do from their background. I had a hard tour in Vietnam. I flew 328 combat missions in about 348 days. I was shot down twice. I took battle damage a few times. I lost some roommates. I lost 22 pounds and didn’t even know it. And when I came home I was, I was tired. I was tired mentally. I was tired physically. And, I wrote a story that’s in my memoir that’s called My War for Me. If you don’t do anything else, read that story. I think it’s 7500 words, but I’m very proud of that story. It tells, uh… And in my new book, Too Far To Walk, (aside) do we have a copy of that? I tell another story that’s an aberration to my Too Far, Too War, uh, My War for Me story. And, uh, I’ll tell you briefly about that. I was laying on the, in the wet jungle in Laos. I had just jumped out. My wife got a telegram saying that I had been shot down and no parachutes had been seen. And so, I’m laying there trying to decide what to do. I had a radio. If I called the rescue people, they’d come to get me and I’d go home. But Laos in those days, in 1968, was pretty wild country. What if the helicopter comes in to get me and it’s shot down and those 2 or 3 guys are killed? Now where am I? I haven’t been rescued and 4 guys have been killed. Those things were preying on my mind. But I was 38 years old. I was a perfect human physical specimen. I had graduated from the jungle survival school in the Philippines. The jungle - it was never hot, it was never cold. Fast running water, drinkable water, was everywhere. I had two guns. I had a knife. And, under every log in the jungle is nourishing food if you’re willing to eat it - And I was. I figured I could walk to the South China Sea in a month or six weeks. So the question is, am I going to take the challenge that will never again in a million years be offered to me, or do I remember my wife and two kids at home? So what do you do? I decided it wasn’t fair to my family so I used my radio the next morning and they came and got me and nobody was killed taking me out and.. One of the things that in my life that I think that I’ve been, not gifted of course, I hate to use the word luck, I believe there’s a higher hand. Yet tomorrow I’ll get run over by a train, but I believe in karma and some of those things. I’m not a religious person, but I’m probably the most spiritual person around. That’s the way I define it. I hate to get on my soapbox. Yes, Sir?
I would like to know more about your new book.
My new book, Too Far to Walk, in my preface I explain where I got the word, the title to the book. And Dal Neitzel, who put me on the spot a while ago, uh, three days before it went to press… I own my own little publishing company, it’s called One Horse Land and Cattle Company, two days or three days before we went to the printer, I didn’t have a dust jacket. So I sent Dal Neitzel an email, and I said go to the Madison River in Yellowstone Park. There’s a very special place that I’m going to tell you about, and take a photograph of the water. Stand on the bank; put the flowers in the photograph. And send me the photograph. He did that, he sent me the photograph. My designer here in Santa Fe put the shadow across it. And two days before we went to the printer, I was still writing this book. When a writer sends a manuscript to a publisher, two years later they’re thinking about going to the printer. We did this in two days. Byproduct of having your own people working for you and the people that helped me design this book are wonderful. Same people that did that book for me (gestures to The Thrill of the Chase). You can’t thank, some people, you can never thank enough.
Forrest, we got a question from your online fan base that we gotta address too.
Who is it?
This one is anonymous.
Ok. Boy I’m in trouble now.
Was the car, you walked back to after hiding the treasure, rented?
Was it rented?
Was it rented.
You know that’s the first time I’ve been asked that question. But, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about that. That’s why I’ve told people that I buried the treasure, that I hid the treasure chest when I was either 79 or 80 years old because I don’t want the exact date to be known because I’m afraid someone will go check the rental car records and how many miles did Mr. Fenn put on the truck or the car, and so I don’t answer those kind of questions, but shoot that person that sent that email.
I have a question. Back to The Thrill of the Chase, outside of the poem, how many clues or hints are in the book? Would you say 10 to 20? 20 to 30?
How many clues?
How many hints?
There are nine clues in the poem but if you read the book, uh, there are a couple. There are a couple of good hints, and then there are a couple of aberrations that live out on the edge. Yes, ma’am?
You say there’s nine clues in the poem, the poem has more than nine lines. Can you share with us which exactly are the lines are the clues?
Which of the 24 lines are clues?
Uh, little girl I already know you. You’ve been out looking for the treasure.
I’m trying to help everybody else.
She already knows what the clues are. No, I don’t want to do that. She’s scary too!
I don’t have a question, but I just want to mention since you’re so interested in information that the gentleman that emailed you from Lummi Island… Dal… Lummi Island is on the far side of a reservation that’s called Lummi Reservation, so he has to go through the reservation every time he goes home to catch the ferry to go out to his island. Just an interesting fact I thought you might be interested in.
Uh, you know Dal, I didn’t know Dal until I after I had written my book. He came to Santa Fe because he wanted to talk to me about the book and the poem. And, I didn’t know the guy, so I didn’t want to meet him at my home, but I met him at the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe. And he introduced himself to me with a fictitious name. And he had some ulterior motives related to that. But after a few minutes to conversation, I learned that his name was Dal Neitzel and that he had worked with my nephew, Creighton Fenn, who is a professional deep sea diver. He found the Agamemnon, Lord Nelson’s flagship and brought a cannon up. He has a website that has wonderful pictures - I don’t know what the website is. But Dal Neitzel was working with my nephew when they found, I think, 79 17th century sunken Spanish galleons off the coast of Uruguay. I mean, Dal Neitzel, his water runs deep, and he’s a really neat guy too. He runs a blog. I think he controls that whole blog. It’s very interesting. I read his blog so I can learn a lot about myself. (Laughter). Your friend isn’t laughing.
Coming from the online site again, I’ve been asked to ask you how many people have told you that they’ve discovered the unintended clue in Too Far to Walk and how many were right?
Well I’ve not had anybody tell me the answer to that clue. If you read my preface, it doesn’t take a genius to know what they are talking about. But there are clues in my new book that can help a person. Did I answer that question?
Yeah, that was it. Now here’s a really obscure one. Is it possible to locate the treasure chest without ever leaving your computer and Google Earth?
No. It isn’t. Did I really say that? There is not a picture of the treasure chest on Google Earth. Was that your question?
Yeah. I think that will suffice.
Because Google Earth doesn’t go down far enough.
Tell us about the children’s book that you have planned.
The children’s book that I have planned? Well there’s a lady that contacted me. She’s written several children’s books and she read both of my books and she said I want you to write a children’s book with me. For some reason, she thought I was a child, I guess, the way I write my books. But I said okay and we’re thinking about that. I mean, I would like to do that. Sometimes, uh, I’m not a natural writer, I struggle when I write. I think my prose looks easy but I, sometimes I sit, uh, just today sometimes when I get to the end of a sentence, trying to write the end of the sentence, I forgot what the front part of the sentence was. So, I may be running out of words. I have three books in my computer that I’m really proud of. I would like to finish one. The main one is called Closet Stories of Taos. It’s about the artists and the characters but it isn’t an art book it’s a gossip book. It’s about Long John Dunne, but that wasn’t his name at all. His name was Wilhelm. He killed two people in Texas, both of them justifiable, but the court didn’t think so. They convicted him of first degree murder and gave him life in prison. And the Sabine River in south Texas overflowed and they let all the prisoners out to stack sandbags to protect the house and John Dunn jumped in the river and floated on a log and far from the reach of Texas Rangers he said. And it’s a wonderful story about John Dunn. But it’s about Horace McHorace (sp?) who owned the first car dealership in Taos, and Tarasita Ferguson and there’s a great story… I don’t know if I can tell this story in this mixed company, but I will. There were two guys down on the plaza, walking around one Sunday afternoon. And, they were accosted by two women who wore hoods over their faces. They wanted these two men to go over to La Vonda hotel with them because they had a room over there. These two guys didn’t want to do it. I’m not gonna mention their names, but in my book I do. The two women turned to walk away, and one of the men lifted the hoods of one of these two women and one of them was Tarasita Ferguson and the other one was Georgia O’Keefe. So my book is really a gossip book. Stories about Doc Martin and the artists. Great stories about Gaspard and Fechin and Sharp, and Kaus and Victor Higgins and some of the others.
Question? Ok then, I will ask another from the online world.
Will you quit going back to the computer?
Ok, this will be the last one. Other than the one you mentioned, are there any other hints in Too Far To Walk that would help solve the nine clues?
Well there’s a major clue in the book, but I don’t think it will help you find the treasure chest. I’ll tell you what the clue is. In the back of my book, there’s a map. And I’ve said that the treasure chest is hidden in the Rocky Mountains. Here’s a treasure chest (I think he meant “map”) of the Rocky Mountains. If you knew where the treasure chest is hidden, you could find it on this map. But the map stops at Canada. The Rocky’s keep going up there, but I said it’s in the Rocky Mountains, which would include Canada. When this book was printed, I didn’t realize that Benchmark Maps, who made this map, stopped at the Canadian border, so that’s a clue, but I don’t think - it’s not going to help you much.
But that’s not THE clue.
What did she say?
She said, “That’s not THE clue.”
There are no clues in this book, but there are some hints. What I tell people to do, if you’re really serious about looking for the treasure, get the Thrill of The Chase and read it. And then go back and read the poem over and over and over again. And then go back and read the book again, but slowly looking at every little abstract thing that might catch up in your brain. That might be a hint to help you with the clues. Any part of some, is better than no part of any. I don’t think that’ll help you much, but…
If somebody finds the treasure, and they reveal themselves that they have found it
If somebody finds the treasure, what?
If somebody does find the treasure, and ruins your plans to throw/cast your bones upon the chest, will you find a new location and do it again?
How do you answer a guy who asks a question like that? I don’t think so. I mean, I’ve had my run. A lot of things you can’t plan. You know, making plans is antagonistic to freedom. I used to tell a story in my Too Far To Walk book about in Santa Fe I had a Piper Malibu Barrage. Carried lots of fuel. It had a 43 foot wingspan. And I could go out there all by myself, push the hangar doors open, because I didn’t want anyone to help me, crank that airplane up, get permission from the tower to take off, and head north, and then turn my radios off. I had no idea where I was going to land, what I was going to see, I didn’t even care. I had six or seven hundred miles before I had to think about that. But I had GPS and I had maps. I’d find a little town up in Wyoming or Idaho or someplace in Montana, and look on my map and see if they had a rental car or an airport. And if they did, I’d land and rent a car and go out and sit by the lake, or the river. I did that, I think it was in Lander, Wyoming. The little Popo Agie River runs through Lander. How can you not stop where the little Popo Agie River runs through the town?
My best friend who passed away a couple of months ago lived in Lander.
She lived in Lander?
I’ve been to Lander a few times. It’s a typical little town, I mean you have to love Lander. That’s grass roots America.
As a matter of fact, I have a granddaughter that is in pre-med at Texas Tech University. I told her that I would pay for all of her college to get a medical degree if she would promise me that when she graduated and got her license, that she would go to a little town like Lander, set up a shingle and make house calls. And she has to do that for two years. She promised me that she would do that, so that’s where I am with this whole thing. Yes, sir?
Forrest, did you have nine clues before you wrote the poem? Or, did nine clues appear after the poem?
They’re contiguous. I knew where I wanted to hide the treasure chest, so it was easy for me to put one foot down and then step on it to get to the next foot. So that’s what I did. But I changed it over - I don’t know how many times. I looked up the meaning of words. You know we really don’t know what some of our words mean. For instance, what does the word “several” mean? S-E-V-E-R-A-L what does that mean?
It means more than two, but not many more than two. Isn’t that a way to define a word. More than two, but not many. So, I doubt that anybody in this room knows that. I mean, I wouldn’t know it except I’m a writer and sometimes I look things up. There are lots of words in the English language that we can’t define and consequently we use them erroneously. How in the hell did I get on that subject?
Is there anything in the chest you would like back?
Is there anything in the chest I want back. Yeah, I want my little bracelet back. And I’m glad you asked that question. Her name is, uh, M-A-C-I. Well, anyway, I’ve had about 35 men, or people, send me an email that says, “I found your treasure.” I’m looking at it, of course I don’t believe it. But I write them back and say, “Congratulations. Will you sell me my bracelet back?” and they say, “What bracelet?” And this one guy said that to me - that he had my treasure chest. I said, well, “I’m interested sir, did the hot water affect the patina on the treasure chest?” He said, “Thank you!” and hung up. He thought I had given him a clue and he’s gonna go look in all the hot water up and down the Rocky Mountains. People… Everybody has their own gig. I keep saying that. I believe it. Yes, ma’am?
50:02 Have you given comparable treasure to your grandchildren, sir?
Do I have comparable treasure for my grandchildren?
My family is taken care of. But I’m another maverick in that area. The last thing I want to do is make my kids or grandkids wealthy. I was in the art business for so many years, and I saw what inherited money can do. It’s the thrill of the chase. It’s the thrill in doing it yourself. I bought all my grandkids cars when they got their driver’s license. I’m paying for all their education. And then, they are on their own. First of all, I’m really not that wealthy. I mean, I can live on the interest, and that’s the definition of a wealthy person I guess, I mean.... Lots of things, uh, uh, I have everything I want but I don’t want very much.
How did you come up with the title? Too Far to Walk?
You’ll have to read my preface. I explained it in my preface. Well, let me read it to you. I’ll read a dedication. This book is dedicated to all that have pushed me against my will, and made me a better person. Here’s my preface. I put a small rubber dinghy in the Madison River a few miles from West Yellowstone, Montana and fished downstream to Baker’s Hole. That part of the river was in the quietly forgotten western edge of Yellowstone National Park. There were no roads, no trails, and no Rangers to tell me I wasn’t supposed to do that. The river distance was about 10 miles and the best fishing was in the bends where the water turned greenish deep and beautiful. The small boat containing my camping gear was tethered to my belt and as I leisurely walked in the quiet river, I spent three days there casually casting my fly and enjoying the solitude. The river experience cemented my connection to that special country, and I promised myself that someday I would make that trip again. That day never came for me, and my disappointment still casts a lonesome shadow across the Madison River. For me now, it’s just too far to walk. And that’s where I got the title. Yes, sir?
Forrest, may I suggest that you tell the audience for those of us who aren’t searchers, tell the audience, who is not searching why the phrase “too far to walk” is so important?
I didn’t say it was too far...err. Important! That part of the preface is a metaphor for my entire life. Looking back, I’ve done some things that I’m not gonna brag about, but I’ve also not done some things that I’d wish I had. As a matter of fact, in the Thrill of the Chase, I talk about writing my obituary. My, uh, what do you call it, (epitaph?) Yeah.
I wish I could have lived to do The things I was attributed to (Laughter)
See there? She feels the same way about that. Well, I had my gallery for 17 years in Santa Fe. And, I had no education. I’d been a fighter pilot all my life. So when I opened my business, I didn’t have a painting. Knew nothing about business, knew nothing about art. That’s why I had to start from scratch. My first two shows, I didn’t sell so much as a book. And I finally told myself, I had a little bit of money left, that I’d saved 20 years in the Air Force. I said I’m going to spend this money advertising, and if that doesn’t work I’m gonna slam the door and go do something else.
And it started working for me. I learned to play Monopoly at my art gallery. And every time I sold a painting, I took the profit and bought two paintings. Then I took the profit and bought four paintings. Over a period of time, it took me two years before I could finance my gallery out of accounts receivable. But I learned a lot along the way. There’s so much to learn. I learned that when I needed somebody to work in my accounts receivable and accounts payable office, that’s a very important job. In the business, everything depends on cash flow. So this lady came to see me. She wanted to work for me. I needed somebody in accounts receivable and accounts payable. So, I said let me think about it overnight. So about eight o’clock that night, I went to her house and knocked on her door. She let me in. I wanted to see what kind of housekeeper she was. If there’s stuff laying all over the floor, she’s not going to work in my accounts receivable. But I want her working as a salesman out front. Different personalities have different things. You know, I’ve always said that salesmen, like school teachers, have shelf lives. And it’s about six years. Dorothy will say that’s not true. If you own your own business it’s a little bit different, but I learned a lot in the art business. I learned a lot about people, I learned a lot about business, and I learned a lot about life.
So many writers, I don’t want to be critical, but I know so many writers that are so much better than I am. They… Everything is researched perfectly. Everything is correct. The commas are in the right spot, and you go right down the center line. And I told this writer today she should be writing Encyclopedia Britannicas. It’s no fun to read. Everything’s there, but it’s no fun. I said - when are you gonna walk out to the… How do you know where the edge is if you don’t go out there and look? I never wanted to go down the center line. I wanted to bounce off the curbs and I think I’ve done that. I got caught a few times, but… I think if… If I had my life to do over, I said in my, one of these books that, if I had my life to do over, I’d change nearly everything. Why do the same thing over and over again? You know? You read in these different magazines, they ask a different question, “What would you change in your life?”
“I wouldn’t change anything, everything’s been perfect.” I think that’s such a, a, an idiot thing to say, I think. Why do the same thing over again when you can… Nothing wrong with slamming a door and starting out new again.
Out of the night that covers me Dark is the pit from pole to pole I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul
I think that’s a good place to stop, don’t you?
|9103||2/4/2015||The Searchers - True New Mexico Stories|
|Link: Click Here
FEMALE 1: This man, in New Mexico is being called the real life Indiana Jones
FEMALE 2: Forrest Fenn - the Santa Fe collector who hid the secret stash
FEMALE 3: With gold nuggets, rare coins, and jewels
FEMALE 4: Priceless artifacts
MALE 1: Worth around $2 million just waiting to be found somewhere north of Santa Fe
FORREST FENN: I can’t tell you how many thousands of miles that I’ve walked through the deserts and through the mountains along the streams and around the lakes just looking for things. In my younger years, I was always out in the woods someplace. I cleared trails for the Forest Service. I was a professional fishing guide at age 13. The first treasure I ever found was a 17 year old girl in Temple, Texas going to high school. Her name was Peggy Proctor. I think about seven or eight years later, we married. I joined the Air Force in 1950 when I was one month past 20 years old. I had a bad tour in Vietnam. I was shot down twice. When I retired from the Air Force I had a wife and two kids, and Santa Fe was the only place that I knew where I could recover. In 1988, I was diagnosed with what they call terminal cancer. I had a big tumor in my body, and that’s when I got the idea to hide the treasure chest. It’s such a visual site: emeralds and rubies and diamonds and sapphires and gold and antiques and jade. If I was standing where the treasure chest is, I’d see trees. I’d see mountains. I’d see animals. I’d smell wonderful smells of pine needles or pinon nuts and sage brush, and I know the treasure chest is wet. Well you’ve asked me a lot of questions and some of them, most of them I’ve answered, a few I haven’t, but I gotta tell you there’s one thing that I told you that I wished I had not. Well I think there are a lot of people out looking for the treasure. When they get home they find out they enjoyed something better than finding the treasure. Do I want the chest found in my lifetime? Part of me says yes, but a part of me says no. So, you know, it’s out of my hands now.
|Link: Click Here
LAURA THOREN: What are we in year six or year five with this search?
FORREST FENN: We’re in year five plus.
THOREN: How’s it going?
FENN: (Laughing) It’s out of control. I think 30,000 people looked for the treasure last summer (2014), and I expect maybe 50,000 this summer. A lot of people are going to Montana and Wyoming. Yellowstone National Park had more people come through their park last summer than in their entire history.
THOREN: And, have people gotten close, do you know?
FENN: Define the word, ‘close.’
THOREN: Within a mile?
THOREN: Within half a mile?
FENN: People have been within 200 feet. And I know that because people send me emails and they tell me exactly where they are. The people that were two hundred feet from the treasure didn’t know that they were there.
THOREN: They weren’t searching.
FENN: They were searching but they didn’t know they were within 200 feet.
THOREN: Of course not, otherwise they would have kept walking. Right? Do you ever go back to the location where you hid it?
FENN: (pause) You know, when I hid that treasure, I was walking back to my car. I started laughing at myself out loud. I said, ‘Forrest, did you really do that?’ You know, and in the back of my mind I told myself if I regret doing this, I can go back and get it. But I told myself, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’ I just made the decision then that I’ll never go back.
THOREN: Do you ever get impatient wanting people to find it?
FENN: No. You know, this is not something I designed over spring break or on summer vacation. I’m looking at someone may find it tomorrow and it may not be found for a thousand years. I’m looking at the big picture. A lot of people who are searching for the treasure don’t see it the same way I do. I would love if somebody found it tomorrow, but if nobody found it for a hundred years, that’s okay with me too.
THOREN: When you were younger, do you wish that someone had done this so you could go search for treasure?
FENN: Oh sure. Sure. I would have been a great pirate.
THOREN: Do you feel like it’s, these people are, like maybe this, who’s the pirate here? The people? You?
FENN: If you don’t have any adventure in you, I really feel sorry for you. We all have some adventure. We all want to get out. There’s something about finding - something. It doesn’t have to be valuable, but to find an arrowhead… When I found my first arrowhead, it was one of the biggest things that ever happened to me. I still remember that feeling. It was wonderful. Put me on the long chase for, in the search.
THOREN: How did you decide what to put in the chest? Why not, I mean, you obviously have many valuable things, why the gold and the gems?
FENN: Well, the treasure chest is 10 inches by 10 inches by 5 inches. And that doesn’t sound like a very big space, but for that reason I wanted to put valuable things in there. So that when the person found the chest, I wanted it to be desirable, I wanted the monetary value to be a consideration, for those who were 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. But, I knew that I had to put small things in there, and valuable things. So there are 265 gold coins, most of them American Eagles and Double Eagles, but there are hundreds of gold nuggets, hundreds of gold nuggets. Two of them are larger than a chicken egg. They weighed 1.2 ounce, uh, 1.2 Troy pounds each. There’s 20.2 Troy pounds of gold in that treasure chest.
THOREN: Is there, are there also gems?
FENN: Yeah, there are a number of rubies. There are two Ceylon sapphires. There are eight emeralds. There are lots of little diamonds. But there are pre-Columbian gold figures and little carved, ancient carved jade faces that are absolutely wonderful. I mean, the person that finds that treasure chest is going to be pleased.
THOREN: Are they never going to have to work again? How much is it worth?
FENN: Well, I’ve never said what it was worth because I don’t know. The price of gold changes every minute, and so I just didn’t want to speculate. I’ve never estimated what it was worth.
THOREN: But it’s worth a pretty penny.
FENN: If you find it, it would be worth the gas money that you spent to get out there, yeah.
THOREN: Does anyone know where it is besides yourself?
FENN: Only me.
THOREN: And why is that? Why not your kids?
FENN: I said in my book, The Thrill of the Chase, ‘Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.’ My wife doesn’t know within six weeks of when I hid the treasure chest.
THOREN: So you did it under the cloak of darkness. You did it without anyone knowing where you were going, or knowing what you were up to.
FENN: Nobody was around. Nobody knew what I was doing. Nobody knew where I was. And that’s the way it had to be.
THOREN: Has anyone tried to get it out of you?
FENN: Oh sure. Everybody tries to get me to tell them clues or hints or something but I don’t do that.
THOREN: You ever worried that after a few glasses of wine you might spill the beans?
FENN: Say that again?
THOREN: Are you ever worried that maybe after a few glasses of wine that you might spill the beans?
FENN: No, I don’t drink for one thing (laughing). You don’t know me very well, or you wouldn’t ask that question.
THOREN: (Laughing) Okay. So you’re good at keeping a secret.
FENN: When I die, they’re gonna throw that secret in the coffin with me.
THOREN: Have you ever written it down?
FENN: (shakes his head no). No. I would never write it down.
THOREN: It’s all in your head.
FENN: It’s all in my head.
THOREN: How did you get the inspiration?
FENN: Well, in 1988 I was diagnosed with what everybody thought was terminal cancer. I lost a kidney, and I thought I was going to die. My anesthesiologist and my surgeon both told me that I was going to die. They gave me a 20 percent chance of living 3 years. It takes a while for that to soak in, but once it did I told myself, you know if I’ve got to go I’m just gonna take… Who says I can’t take it with me? I am gonna take it with me. So I found this treasure chest. I gave a bunch of money for that beautiful little treasure chest, and I started putting things in it. Coins and gold nuggets and valuable gold antiques and and different things. It took me about 15 years to put the whole thing together. Who says I can’t affect the future after I’m gone? Sure I can. The Rosetta Stone was buried for 2,000 years before somebody found it and I said in my book, ‘Don’t you know that guy is proud?’ The guy that carved that Rosetta Stone. That’s the way I feel about it. Ten thousand years from now, if somebody finds that treasure chest, I’m going to be a hero to that guy.
|9124||6/24/2014||SBS Dateline Part 1|
|Link: Click Here
ANJALI RAO: Now to the United States where a real live treasure hunt is underway, after an eccentric millionaire claimed to have buried a chest filled with gold somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. He’s invited anyone who finds the treasure to keep it for themselves. But first, they must decipher a cryptic poem that supposedly reveals the location. As many as 6,000 people are now reported to be searching for the loot, but is the buried treasure real, or just a hoax? Dateline’s Nick Lazaredes joins the quest to find out.
NICK LAZAREDES: Spring is late in coming to Yellowstone National Park, but the Bison are out and the hunt is already underway.
CARISSA KREIS: You cross that river and you get on the other side - it’s like being in Jurassic Park. You’re so worried the whole time that there’s a grizzly bear right behind you.
LAZAREDES: Carissa Kreis and her sisters have driven across five states to Montana’s Rocky Mountains, and they believe they’re well equipped for the dangers they may face.
XXXXX KREIS: Bear bells supposed to make a lot of noise because bears - you don’t want to sneak up on them.
LAZAREDES: But these sisters aren’t stalking bears, they’re hunting for gold.
XXXX KREIS: There you go!
YYYYY KREIS: No Indian Marks.
MARTY KREIS: Man that’s a good spot right there. If’ he’s carrying 20 pounds of gold, 22 pounds of gold, and then he has to walk back to his car to get 22 more pounds and was carrying a digging shovel.
LAZAREDES: What’s brought these sisters here are clues to the location of a treasure chest hidden by an eccentric multi-millionaire named Forrest Fenn.
FORREST FENN: There are hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets in that treasure chest. Two of them are as big as a chicken egg. I wanted it to be visual enough to strike somebody’s fancy for someone to tell them, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna go look for that.’
LAZAREDES: Forrest Fenn’s autobiography, ‘The Thrill of the Chase,’ provides the only clues to the hidden gold. The treasure map is a riddle, spelled out in the lines of this poem.
FENN: Begin it where warm waters halt / and take it in the canyon down / not far but too far to walk / put in below the home of Brown / from there it’s no place for the meek / the end is ever drawing nigh / there’ll be no paddle up your creek / just heavy loads and water high.
MARTY KREIS: Hey, I wanna take the last one. No I have one of those.
ZZZZ KREIS: This is a good one (flashlight).
LAZAREDES: For almost a year, the Kreis sisters have been trying to make sense of Fenn’s enigmatic verses.
MARTY KREIS: If you’ve been wise and found the blaze / look quickly down your quest to cease / but tarry scant with marvel gaze / just take the chest and go in peace.
LAZAREDES: Forrest Fenn’s poem has captured a nation’s imagination. Sparking a treasure hunting craze that spread from coast to coast. For those caught in the grip of gold fever, it’s a race against time to crack the code.
DAL NEITZEL: Oh man, what a view. You need this. Come on, show me where it’s at!
LAZAREDES: In New Mexico, a thousand kilometers to the south of the Kreis sisters, Dal Neitzman (sic) is on his 37th expedition to find the treasure.
NEITZEL: So, what I’d settle for up here is a nice petroglyph. Some kind of Indian rock carving that says, ‘The treasure is here.’
LAZAREDES: For Dal, cracking Fenn’s cryptic code has become an obsession.
NEITZEL: Look at this stuff, how broken up it is. Now if there were a blaze, you know, like that igneous rock coming down, an intrusion coming down coming right to that cave, man you’d find me in that hole in a second.
LAZAREDES: After researching Fenn’s poem, Dal believes the clues relate to the Aztec Indian tribe that once lived here.
NEITZEL: Forrest is tricky, and he knows a lot about Indian methods. I think, I think, uh, I think if you find the place, if you find the blaze, you're gonna spend a lot of time finding his hidey place.
LAZAREDES: While Dal’s interpretation has led him here to the southern Rockies, for the Kreis sisters, all the clues point to the north.
CARISSA KREIS: Just till we get to that ledge right there.
LAZAREDES: The sisters believe the poem relates to Forrest Fenn’s childhood, leading them here to Yellowstone.
MARTY KREIS: When we found out about Forrest Fenn and read about him, it was like our dad, so we clicked. And, um, yeah when we read the book and um, you know, put the pieces together and we saw this, it was like - this is it. This had to be his favorite spot.
FENN: People have been pretty close. But the people that have been closest, don’t know that they were close. There’s 10 percent of me that wants to help them, but the 90 percent supersedes the 10 percent.
LAZAREDES: But while Dal and the sisters are certain of their progress, skeptics say they’re being duped.
RON MALDONADO: The Templar Knights, the Holy Grail, all of these lost treasures they don’t exist. They haven’t been found.
LAZAREDES: Archaeologist Ron Maldonado has spent decades unearthing America’s history, and he reckons the tale of Fenn’s gold is just another myth.
MALDONADO: We have, you know, this Forrest Fenn treasure that no one will ever find. Not in my lifetime, not in the next lifetime, not in three lifetimes because it doesn’t exist.
KREIS: Oh my God. Just think of the poor Mormons crossing the Donner pass.
LAZAREDES: Real or not, solving Fenn’s puzzle is a gargantuan task. With just a few clues, the search area extends to the Canadian border.
KREIS: Is this the trail? How can you find the trail?
LAZAREDES: But in the wilds of the Rockies, hunting for treasure is a risky business. So it’s late afternoon, and I’m driving through the middle of Yellowstone National Park. It’s snowing – really, really harsh conditions, and it’s into this environment that more and more people are coming to look for Forrest Fenn’s treasure. In fact, so many treasure hunters that emergency resources have been stretched to the limit.
TIM REID: We’ve had probably five major incidents of people looking for this purported treasure.
LAZAREDES: In Yellowstone National Park, Chief Ranger Tim Reid is now dealing with the fallout of Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt. I understand you’ve just had an incident today in relation to this treasure hunt?
REID: We had an incident today where we arrested two people who had, approximately a week ago, caused a search and rescue that when they were swept away down a river while looking for the treasure. And they came back and committed another violation, a criminal act, and we arrested them and took them to jail.
LAZAREDES: It’s now four years since the hunt began, and growing devotion is pushing searchers to extremes. For those on the trail, bad news travels fast with word that a treasure hunter now lost in the wilderness.
NEITZEL: This is the first year that I have known of any of this to happen. So, in the past, we’ve never had anything like this to discuss and now one party is missing.
LAZAREDES: Since the hunt began, Dal has forged a close friendship with Forrest Fenn, and from inside his Santa Fe mansion, we find him embroiled in the rescue effort for the missing searcher.
FENN: Let me know as soon as you find out anything, and I’m not gonna tell his wife yet. Thanks, pal. Well he didn’t sleep in his room last night, although some of his things were still in the room.
LAZAREDES: It’s clear this latest twist is weighing heavily on Forrest’s mind.
FENN: I don’t feel like I’m to blame, but I feel somewhat responsible for it and I’m - I will help them any way I can.
FENN: There’s something over there I want to show you.
LAZAREDES: Despite years of planning, Forrest Fenn wasn’t sure how the treasure hunt would evolve. But Fenn was determined to leave his mark on history.
FENN: Isn’t this a great wagon? This wagon was made in 1880.
LAZAREDES: Having spent his lifetime collecting precious objects from the past, Fenn devised his treasure hunt as a tangible way of giving back to society.
FENN: When I hid that treasure chest, and walked back to the car, it was totally out of my hands. And in a loud voice I said, ‘Forrest Fenn, did you really do that?’ and I started laughing.
LAZAREDES: This series of photos was commissioned by Forrest before the chest was hidden. It’s the only visual evidence that the treasure exists, but it’s far from definitive proof. What about the people that say the treasure doesn’t exist?
FENN: What makes you think it’s not out there hidden someplace? Give me the facts. Present your evidence. The only way I could prove to you I hid it is to take you out there and show it to you. Then I’d have to kill you (laughing).
LAZAREDES: A tour of the millionaire’s Santa Fe mansion lends some credence to his story. His walls are a wonderland of ancient artifacts.
FENN: A trader brought this pipe to me. It came out of a little mom and pop museum.
LAZAREDES: Fenn made much of his multi-million dollar fortune trading in Native American relics.
FENN: And here is the pipe with Sitting Bull holding it in his mouth. It’s the same exact pipe.
LAZAREDES: In New Mexico, Fenn is regarded as a modern day Indiana Jones. He even bought the ruins of an Aztec village and dug up its ancient riches for himself. Are they incredibly expensive, these collector’s items?
FENN: Thirty-five thousand bucks.
LAZAREDES: Right. Forrest’s workshop contains one of the most impressive private collections of Native American antiquities in the world.
FENN: This is the typical size of an arrow point.
LAZAREDES: But some archaeologists regard the stockpile as private plunder. Some people have called you a looter. How do you respond to those sorts of claims?
FENN: Well, I don’t respond, but the definition of a looter and an archaeologist is that one has a permit and the other one doesn’t. Archaeologists don’t like anybody that has an Indian ruin on their land and excavates it unless they have a PhD. in Archaeology. But the law is on my side. The law says I can do what I want to on my own land.
LAZAREDES: But Forrest Fenn’s zeal to dig up the past has appalled Native Americans.
MALDONADO: I think he’s done, not only Native America, but American’s in general an injustice by doing this. By kind of sending this message of there’s a treasure out there, go get it.
LAZAREDES: Archaeologist Ron Maldonado works for the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation in the U.S. He’s brought me to the Chaco Canyon, a world heritage site containing the remnants of an Aztec civilization thousands of years old.
MALDONADO: There’s just a, pot shards. Just look at it. It’s nice, it’s pretty, and we’re gonna leave it alone and walk away from it because, you know, if you don’t know how to use it, you shouldn’t take it.
LAZAREDES: Let alone dig up buried treasure.
MALDONADO: Exactly. Let alone dig up buried treasure.
LAZAREDES: Chaco is one of several cultural landmarks targeted by reckless treasure hunters, trespassing on Indian land digging for Fenn’s gold.
MALDONADO: If you get caught doing this, and you have your brand new 2014 all-wheel drive vehicle, guess who gets to keep it? You know? Law enforcement, or in the case of Navajo, me.
FENN: I’ve said in my book that the treasure is hidden in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. And I’m not going to tell the Indians that it’s not on Indian land, I’m not going to tell the Forest Service that it’s not on Forest Service land. I’m not going to tell some rancher out there that it’s not on his land. It’s in the Rocky Mountains. I’m not going to narrow the search down.
LAZAREDES: As Fenn’s legend grows, so too does the potential fallout. And as this wily 83 year old has discovered, it can sometimes get personal.
FENN: I’ve had about four or five threats. This one guy said, ‘Tell me where the treasure is right this second, or I’m going to kill you.’ I’ve called 911 three times - arrested people at my front gate.
NEWS REPORTER: Police say Kevin Fulgham was parked at Fenn’s house yesterday and refused to leave. Fulgham allegedly confronted one cop and then he was arrested for aggravated assault on a police officer.
LAZAREDES: Although he anticipated a lunatic fringe, Forrest has been shocked at the extent of their deranged behavior.
FENN: I’ve had people tell me they were going to go to Temple, Texas and dig in my father’s grave because of my treasure chest, and I remind them, you know, the treasure chest is north of Santa Fe. I’ve had ten people tell me they’re going to dig in my father’s grave.
LAZAREDES: In New Mexico’s back country, I’ve been invited to attend a special event called Fennboree.
UNKNOWN MAN: It’ll attract a lot of searchers, a lot of whom will be very obsessed with the treasure hunt.
LAZAREDES: After hours of traversing remote desert canyons, I soon discover that the dividing line between curiosity and obsession is as elusive as Forrest Fenn’s gold.
NEITZEL: Everybody say, ‘Treasure.’
DESERTPHILE: You remain convinced it’s in New Mexico?
WOMAN: It’s in New Mexico.
DESERTPHILE: Taos has been taken by space aliens!
WOMAN: My husband, he’s right over there, he knows where it is.
LAZAREDES: Who’s your buddy who helps you while you’re treasure hunting?
MAN: This is it right here.
DESERTPHILE: Why doesn’t he just go and get the chest?
MAN: If we ever find the treasure, I know he’s not going to stab me in the back.
LAZAREDES: In the middle of the camp, a shrine has been devoted to the man they call the master puppeteer. But even among his most devoted fans, nagging doubts persist.
DESERTPHILE: Mr. Fenn may have just put the chest away, and not hidden anything for all we know, but I don’t think Mr. Fenn would do that, but he could have.
LAZAREDES: Up north, the Kreis sisters have no room for such doubts.
MARTY KREIS: Well this is where I’d have put it.
CLARISSA KREIS: Forrest, you should have put it here.
LAZAREDES: As they move deeper into the mountains, the women constantly scan the landscape for physical matches to the clues from the poem.
CLARISSA KREIS: Heavy loads and water high. After that you see the blaze.
MARTY KREIS: Look around Libby, let me know if you see a blaze.
LAZAREDES: And what makes you think that maybe it’s on this side?
MARTY KREIS: (laughing) Because we didn’t find it on that side. There’s a pretty good walking trail through here in the spring.
LAZAREDES: Everything fits so much here, you pretty much have to go over every rock until you find it, don’t you?
MARTY KREIS: Just gotta find the blaze.
LAZAREDES: The sisters are reluctant to leave any stone unturned. Despite the constant disappointments, it only seems to strengthen their resolve.
SISTERS: I am more anxious to find it. Yeah. I mean, come on, we’ve been out here so many times, we gotta find it. Every time we come out, we find something that ties into the poem just a little bit more. The more exploring you do, the closer you feel to it.
NEITZEL: None of us have found the treasure, but we found little treasures on the way. We found places that we never would have bothered to go to that are pretty interesting and fascinating and beautiful, that we would have never seen if it hadn’t been for Forrest’s, uh, treasure hunt.
LAZAREDES: But perhaps the biggest reward of all is reserved for the only man who isn’t looking.
FENN: I love the fact that I’m the only one who knows where it is and that I’ve started a fire under the imagination of hope of a lot of people. I’m 83 years old, and have a few months left to live and if nobody finds the treasure, I promise you a thousand years from now people will still be looking.
ANJALI RAO: Nick Lazeredes on the treasure trail there. And if you fancy joining the hunt for the Fenn fortune, you can read his poem online plus watch an exclusive interview where he reveals, for the first time, new clues to the hidden millions.
|9138||4/2/2013||HDNET World Report|
|Link: Click Here
VOICEOVER: Now reporting from Santa Fe, New Mexico here’s correspondent Jennifer London with a story of hidden treasure.
MARK HOWARD: Right in this area here.
JENNIFER LONDON: Over the river, and through the woods to the house of Brown we go. We’re getting close.
HOWARD: We’re getting really close. Where we’re headed is, well there’s a campground. There’s a trailhead. It’s somewhere there, that that’s where the falls is. About right here.
LONDON: And you think the treasure is somewhere in here (gesturing to a map).
HOWARD: I think the treasure is somewhere in here.
LONDON: The so-called house of Brown is just one of nine clues that Mark Howard is following on a real-life, 21st century treasure hunt.
HOWARD: My take on it is that it’s the home of Brown Trout.
LONDON: Do brown trout…
HOWARD: Yeah, they live in the East Fork of the Hamas River, yeah. They’re big in there. Okay, guess it’s this way.
LONDON: Somewhere in this vast wilderness, there is a fortune waiting to be discovered. A chest full of gold worth millions. It was hidden in the mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico by an 80 year old eccentric writer named Forrest Fenn, and now dozens of people like Mark Howard are searching high and low for it. All right, that was not so bad. Could it be that we’re only 20 minutes into our hike and we’re already lost?
HOWARD: (laughing) No, not really.
LONDON: Okay. I’m putting all my faith in you, Mark.
HOWARD: Here’s the deal. If you’re lost in the woods, follow the stream down.
LONDON: But see, here’s my concern. If we’re lost in the woods, and we’re here to find some hidden treasure, and we can’t find our own location in the woods, what chance do we have at finding this hidden chest? Fenn hid the chest but didn’t bury it to entice treasure hunters like Mark Howard to get out there and search for it. And with an estimated value of two million, yes two million, a little thing like getting lost won’t dampen Mark’s enthusiasm. He’s been on the trail, so to speak, for months with only this as his guide - a cryptic poem written by Forrest Fenn that contains the nine clues, which Mark has committed to memory.
HOWARD: As I have gone in there alone with my treasures bold I can keep my secrets and hint of riches new and old.
FORREST FENN: Begin it where warm waters halt, and take it in the canyon down. Not far, but too far to walk. Put in below the home of Brown.
LONDON: The entire poem appears in Fenn’s memoir aptly titled, “The Thrill of the Chase.”
FENN: Shakespeare said it, you know, you have your entrances. You have your exits. You play your part, and you go.
LONDON: And Fenn’s played plenty of parts. He’s a decorated war hero who flew more than 300 combat missions as a fighter pilot in Vietnam. After leaving the Air Force, Fenn moved his family to Santa Fe in the early 70’s with a new mission to reinvent himself. With little more than $20,000 in savings, Fenn set up a business he knew little about: collecting and selling art. Did you have the gallery built custom, or did you buy an existing building?
FENN: This is an old house. I just re-modeled it and added on.
LONDON: Soon, Fenn’s art gallery became one of the most successful and celebrated in Santa Fe with clients like the Kennedy’s and the Rockefeller’s. He sold the gallery after 17 years.
FENN: Isn’t that a beautiful little pot?
LONDON: But continues to add to his world-class collection of ancient Native American art and artifacts.
FENN: The only big one that I have that’s whole is this beautiful thing. It doesn’t even have a rim neck on it.
LONDON: And when Fenn isn’t tinkering in his artifacts lab at home, he spends most of his time here, at the San Lazaro ruins, just outside of Santa Fe.
FENN: Look here what I just found. I started to pick it up, but I thought you might want to get a shot at it.
LONDON: It’s an arrowhead?
FENN: See the wind has uncovered that. It’s an arrowhead.
LONDON: Wow, look at that. Fenn bought the land in the early 80’s and has been excavating the pueblo ever since. Unearthing treasures isn’t simply a pastime for Fenn, it’s a passion.
FENN: You know, there are millions of treasures out here, and you know, it’s part of my demeanor, I think. I mean, I live for things like this: a good fishing hole, an Indian ruin. When I found my first arrowhead when I was nine years old, I told myself, “that thing has been right there in that very spot for thousands of years waiting for me to come along.” That - that’s a thrill to me.
LONDON: Which leads us back to Fenn’s book, The Thrill of the Chase, and the hidden treasure. You see, everything with Fenn is an intricately laced story. So, let’s start at the beginning. What was the genesis for writing the book?
FENN: In 1988 I was diagnosed with cancer. A two-hour operation turned into five, and when it was over, my doctor told me that I had a 20% chance of living three years.
LONDON: That’s when Fenn decided to write his memoir. He’d already written seven other books, but none so personal. But Fenn ended up beating the odds and surviving cancer. Still, he wanted to leave behind a legacy. Not only telling his story of exploration and discovery, but challenging others to do the same. How? By searching for that chest of gold.
FENN: Just because I got well from cancer doesn’t mean I’m not going to die. You know, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you. If I’ve got to go, I’m going to slam the door. I’m going to make an issue of it. I’m not going to let nature get by with this without me kicking all the way. And then I said, how can I do that? I can do that by giving someone else the same thrills that I’ve had all of these years to look for that chest. I think that idea is a stroke of genius. I just love the philosophy of that. I found a beautiful little treasure chest - cast bronze treasure chest. And I started filling it up with wonderful things: jewelry, gold nuggets - two gold nuggets weigh over a pound apiece, and have 265 gold coins: double eagles and eagles, and just wonderful things from my collection. I put them all in this chest, and I took it out and I, I put it in that very secret, and very dear place - private. I walked back to my car... smiling. I tell myself, “yeah, it really felt good” because I had done something that I had dreamed about for a long time.
LONDON: How did you pick that particular spot to bury the chest?
FENN: Well, I don’t want to give too many more clues, but it’s a very special place to me. Otherwise, I would not have done it. I mean I just couldn’t take it out and bury it in the ground someplace where I didn’t know where I was. I think that was a crucial part of it.
LONDON: Fenn didn’t tell a soul about his plan, not even Peggy, his wife of 57 years or his two grown children or seven grandchildren. Why not tell somebody?
FENN: Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead. First of all, it’s very personal, very personal. And secondly, I didn’t want to be talked out of something. The main reason was this is going to be something I’m going to do for myself. Nobody else has a part in it. I don’t want them to know where I’m going, or even what’s in the chest.
LONDON: When you told people after the fact, how did they react? Did they say, “You’re crazy, go dig it up, or go unearth it,” what happened?
FENN: The first reaction is disbelief. Who would do a stupid thing like that? And I can answer the question. No one would do a stupid thing like that except a person that was in my skin.
LONDON: In many ways, everything that has happened in Fenn’s life has been leading up to this. As a self-made man with no formal education, he’s found success through hard work, ingenuity, imagination, and a little inspiration from the land he loves. Forrest, can you tell me how this land that we’re sitting on, how it relates to your treasure hunt, and how it maybe influenced the idea and the thrill of the chase?
FENN: Well that’s the idea - the thrill of the chase. And you know, I think all of us are always looking for something new, something different, something better: a better life, a different place. I love the thrill of the chase.
LONDON: And, so does Mark Howard, who we first met treasure hunting up in the mountains. Turns out, he’s a friend of Forrest Fenn, but even so, doesn’t press Fenn for additional clues because he too loves the thrill of the chase.
FENN: Hey Mark, how’s your pulse?
HOWARD: (laughing) Alright.
FENN: Did you find that treasure chest?
HOWARD: I won’t even put a sentence forward with him that would be interpreted as me asking for a clue, because one, I’m a friend of his and I can’t expect to get, and I don’t expect to get special treatment on this. It’s kind of me matching wits with Forrest.
FENN: If a person will think, they can find the chest, but the secret is to think and analyze. They can find the chest. Just can’t get out of your car and walk over in the woods and walk to it.
LONDON: In the poem, which you say has these nine clues, there are references to water, there is a reference to Brown’s house. Who’s Brown?
FENN: There’s references to wood.
LONDON: But you didn’t answer my question, who is Brown?
FENN: Well, that’s for you to find. If I told you that, you’d go right to the chest.
LONDON: How do we know it’s really out there? How do we know this isn’t a hoax?
FENN: I was waiting for you to ask me that question. You know what the answer is? The only way... What could I say to you that would convince you?
LONDON: That it’s out there?
LONDON: You could tell me where it is.
FENN: That wouldn’t convince you.
LONDON: Sure it would.
FENN: The thrill of the chase is gone after that.
LONDON: So, in other words, what I’m hearing you say is there’s no way for you to validate that it’s out there. It’s a leap of faith.
FENN: You just have to believe me.
NOBLE: If you bought it, I would actually put your head shape to where it fits you.
LONDON: Local hatmaker JD Noble does indeed believe Fenn’s story. And just like Mark Howard, and a handful of other intrepid souls, he’s been spending his free time in search of the hidden treasure.
NOBLE: Well, today is kind of a recon mission to check out two sites that have very, very strong possibilities.
LONDON: But unlike Mark Howard, JD has a completely different take on what the clue “the house of Brown” means. Over breakfast at a diner in Taos, New Mexico, JD explained his strategy.
NOBLE: I found out that there is a famous Brown who lived and maybe is still alive here in Taos.
LONDON: And so you think Brown is an actual person or a family and it’s a name?
NOBLE: Yes. Yes.
LONDON: And you think it’s somewhere in this area?
NOBLE: Yes, and that’s what we’re going to go check when we leave here. We’re gonna go find the home of Brown.
LONDON: Is it near water? Because the poem says “put in below the home of Brown.”
LONDON: And, it earlier references “where warm waters halt.”
NOBLE: The Don Fernando River, or the Rio Fernando, actually runs right by.
LONDON: Let me ask you, JD, a really simple, and incredibly obvious question, but it’s worth asking. Why? Why do this? Are you doing it for the money? Are you doing it for the thrill of the chase?
NOBLE: You know, the thrill. For one thing, it’s an excuse. When I was younger, and lived here, I was exploring all the time. This gives me an excuse to go out here. If I didn’t have this, I probably wouldn’t.
LONDON: Once again, off we go, searching for the elusive house of Brown.
NOBLE: I am going to check out the residents of Brown here in Arroyo Seco.
LONDON: Call it luck, or perhaps JD’s good sleuthing skills.
NOBLE: I found out where the Brown home is out here on the north side of Taos.
LONDON: We actually did find a Brown family, who actually knows Forrest Fenn.
BROWN: My mom lived up there at that point and she was friends with him.
NOBLE: Do you know of any waterfalls?
BROWN: Again, well, this is all waterfalls up here.
NOBLE: That’s a clue.
LONDON: That’s a clue.
NOBLE: That’s amazing! I had no idea. I had no idea that today we would find this kind of information. I mean, it’s always like a crapshoot, but I knew we would come away today either eliminating something or getting a clue that would just make me come back again, but I had no idea that we would find a major... I mean this is all
LONDON: Do you think this is THE clue?
NOBLE: This is THE clue. This is where my attention is focused from here on out, and it may take several trips up there. Days. You know, two to three day trips. It’s not one you can do in a day and poke around and come back. You have to stay up there.
LONDON: One step closer - maybe. So, the search continues for JD Noble.
NOBLE: We’re all somewhere inside us, like Forrest says, we have an Indiana Jones hidden inside of us that we want. It’s an adventure. It’s very, um, fun, and it’s exciting. And, once again, I think that’s Forrest’s hope and whole purpose. It’s not about making somebody rich with material gold, but some just an adventure.
HOWARD: Here we are on our way out.
LONDON: And the search continues for Mark Howard.
HOWARD: I won’t give up until I either find out it’s been found or I found where it was, or is.
LONDON: The search even continues for Forrest Fenn himself.
FENN: I said in my book that part of me is in that chest and I’m not talking about the autobiography, I’m talking about part of my soul is in there. There are things in there that are very dear to me. In two thousand years I hope someone finds that chest and gives it to the Smithsonian and they put it on display and raise the lid, and let everybody look at what - and tell the story, the entire story that happened two thousand years ago. Didn’t that, doesn’t that not get you excited?
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SHELLY RIBANDO: A New Mexico man is revealing new clues about where he hid a possibly multi-million dollar treasure. Forrest Fenn hid gold and gems in the Rockies four years ago. Now he tells Action 7 news reporter Laura Thoren it’s still up for grabs if you can crack his code.
LAURA THOREN: Somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe at an altitude above 5,000 feet, supposedly lies this intricately carved wooden treasure chest filled with gold nuggets, diamonds and rubies. Well, that’s what Santa Fe art dealer, Forrest Fenn, says. He’s the one who hid the treasure, and we’re taking him at his word. Who knows where the treasure is?
FORREST FENN: Only me.
THOREN: Fenn says he hid the treasure four years ago to get families off the couch and into the wilderness. He released a book with a poem that contains nine clues that he says will lead you to the prize.
FENN: Nobody is gonna accidentally stumble on that treasure chest. They’re gonna have to figure out the clues, and let the clues take them to that spot.
THOREN: But it’s not an easy riddle. Give it a try. The end of the poem says “Hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold, if you are brave and in the wood, I give you title to the gold.” Mary Wolf, a bookstore owner in Santa Fe says she’s gone over the clues 47 times. Though Fenn has never specifically said the treasure is in New Mexico, She’s trekked into the mountains above The City Different believing that’s where the chest is. And she’s not the only one.
MARY WOLF: From all over the country, and all over the world, we’ve had people from Asia and Europe and South Africa and everywhere, South America here looking for the treasure.
FENN: People that have been at 200 feet from the treasure, didn’t know that they were there.
THOREN: Fenn says that he receives hundreds of emails from treasure hunters. Many are asking for additional clues. He said people are looking beyond the Land of Enchantment in Montana, and Wyoming. Yellowstone National Forest is a popular guess. I wanted to know if Fenn ever returns to the spot where he dropped off the treasure to check if it’s still there.
FENN: I don’t want to answer the question. I can say the treasure is still there. I don’t want to give that as a clue.
THOREN: And while he would love to be around when the diamonds, gold, and rubies are finally found, he is not giving away any secrets. You mean you’re not going to tell me where it is?
FENN: I would love if somebody found it tomorrow. But if no one found it for a hundred years, that’s ok with me too.
THOREN: Laura Thoren, KOAT Action 7 News.
RIBANDO: And you know that poem, as you were reading parts of it, I think it's one of those things that, when it’s eventually found someday, we’ll look back at the poem and think, “Oh, that’s obvious.” That’s what always the way right? “That was such an obvious clue, how did we not see that?”
THOREN: Exactly! And when you read it, you’ll think, “I think I know where it is. I’ve been there.” I mean, that’s what I was thinking when I was reading the poem. Oh, it must be in Santa Fe up by the ski area.
RIBANDO: Makes you think you were that close being a millionaire.
THOREN: And he did say you won’t have to - if you think you know where it is, you don’t have to dig around, you don’t have to disturb anything.
RIBANDO: Right, so it’s not as hard as everybody over thinks it. But only he knows, he says.
THOREN: We should find out where people are going because some person has been so close.
RIBANDO: Yeah, well it better be a New Mexican who finds it.
THOREN: Let’s go this weekend.
RIBANDO: Okay. By Monday, we’re out of here!
|9152||3/17/2013||KOB Eye on New Mexico|
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CHRIS RODRIGUEZ: Good morning New Mexico. You’re watching Eye on New Mexico. I’m Chris Rodriguez.
NICOLE BRADY: And I’m Nicole Brady. Today we are going to talk about a fever now sweeping the entire nation.
RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, all thanks to Gadi Schwartz. It is the treasure hunting fever. Gadi Schwartz is joining us this morning, and here’s something you probably don’t know about Gadi. He’s obsessed. Obsessed with a capital ‘O’ about finding this hidden treasure buried by Santa Fe art gallery owner, Forrest Fenn.
BRADY: Gadi, when did this whole thing start? We’ve been telling people about Forrest Fenn for a few years now, and he hid this treasure somewhere. And the Today Show picked this up so everybody knows about this now, but you really were the first person to tell us about it.
GADI SCHWARTZ: It’s kind of difficult. Sometimes you just cover a story and then you decide to just throw your reporter hat off and you jump into the fray and that’s kind of what I’ve done. Um, so, I don’t know how I feel about coming on TV now telling all my secrets. My hard earned secrets. You might get a few of them out, but not all of them.
BRADY: And that's the thing, Forrest Fenn has released many clues, which we’ll be talking about this morning, about where this treasure is hidden. You have spent years now trying to decipher these clues, and you got a few places. You’ve gotten close we think?
SCHWARTZ: A family vacation…
RODRIGUEZ: The rest of us go to Disneyland, Gadi is at some park.
SCHWARTZ: Bear Cave.
RODRIGUEZ: That’s a bear cave right there.
SCHWARTZ: Actually you can’t see it in the video, but in that bear cave there’s like, an elk carcass. So a grizzly bear dragged an elk carcass into its cave.
BRADY: Could have been a Gadi carcass.
SCHWARTZ: I was armed with little pebbles. I would throw them into the caves first to make sure there weren’t any bears in there. And then the plan was, if things went wrong, I’m wearing a life jacket underneath that jacket right there and I was just gonna jump into the river and float down if a bear took a swipe at me.
BRADY: Where are you in this video, let me ask.
SCHWARTZ: Somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe.
BRADY: Which is all Forrest Fenn has said.
SCHWARTZ: Way north of Santa Fe. Actually, that’s in Yellowstone. Yellowstone is beautiful, and it’s no secret that I think it’s in Yellowstone. Forrest has talked - that’s very important video right there. If you can find that on video, you’ll find me around there this summer. That’s kind of the area I think it’s in. I’m not going to tell you exactly which waterfall that is.
RODRIGUEZ: Well, let set the story up because I think you were, correct me if I’m wrong, the very first reporter anywhere to find Forrest Fenn and talk to him, so let’s air the first story that you did. And that was back in 2010?
RODRIGUEZ: Let’s show that package, that story.
SCHWARTZ: On any given day, in downtown Santa Fe, people walk by the only place where the key to a two million treasure sits on a bookshelf. The author, Forrest Fenn, is a legend in the Santa Fe art world
FORREST FENN: I might be nearly interested in everything and I’m easily occupied.
SCHWARTZ: Now just north of 81 years old, Fenn, who says there is an Indiana Jones in all of us, is collecting something new.
FENN: There’s one.
SCHWARTZ: Emails from people out looking for his treasure.
FENN: It’s a thrill for me to see what’s happening. People are getting interested in the thrill of the chase themselves.
SCHWARTZ: The thrill of the chase is more than a phrase, it’s the title to the story of Fenn’s life. He recounts falling in love with collect-sploring and fishing at an early age.
FENN: I remember there were times up in Yellowstone where I could hardly wait to get out on the river to fish.
SCHWARTZ: And the chapters of his life read like an adventure novel. He joins the Air Force, flying fighter jets, getting shot down twice over Vietnam. After retiring, he sets up one of the best known art galleries in Santa Fe and makes his fortune. And then a doctor tells him
FENN: He told me I had a 20 percent chance of living three years.
SCHWARTZ: He has cancer.
FENN: So, you know, my life changed dramatically there over a short period of time.
SCHWARTZ: But the predicted end never came. He beat the cancer and the thrill of the chase took on a whole new meaning.
FENN: I decided that I had had so much fun for 60 years collecting things, why don’t I find a little treasure chest, and fill it up with neat little things and go hide it someplace. And the people behind me, let them have the same thrill I’ve had over the years.
SCHWARTZ: The nine clues to finding Fenn’s treasure
FENN: Begin it where warm waters halt
SCHWARTZ: Can be found in a poem.
FENN: And take it in the canyon down
SCHWARTZ: In the back of his book,
FENN: Not far, but too far to walk. Put in below the home of Brown.
SCHWARTZ: But if someone wise enough to find the blaze, the person who takes the chest and goes in peace inside the ancient box, they will discover 20 pounds of gold and jewelry containing diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and jade. Even though Fenn knows he might not be around for the discovery, that doesn’t diminish his excitement of bait.
FENN: If someone finds that thing in a thousand years from now, or ten thousand years from now, that’s gonna be an interesting discovery.
RODRIGUEZ: It will be an interesting discovery!
BRADY: What’s in the treasure box, Gadi?
SCHWARTZ: Well, starting with the treasure box, the treasure box is, I think an 11th or 12th century Romanesque lock box. So the treasure chest alone is worth about $25,000. Um, and then there’s all kinds of different stuff, actually, I’ve got my trusty book here. This thing has seen better days, but I’ll just read straight from it. It’s uh, there’s a gold bracelet, 254 rubies, six emeralds, two sapphires, a bunch of small diamonds, a Spanish 17th century ring. So a lot of the gold and jewelry that’s in this box isn’t just the weight of the jewelry, it’s also very, very valuable because it’s actual treasure like from Spanish galleons.
BRADY: We showed the story there and obviously Forrest Fenn has been a collector for decades. How did he amass some of this stuff? Has he told you a little bit about some of these particular pieces?
SCHWARTZ: Well he’s - actually, interestingly enough, his nephew, Crayton Fenn, is a treasure hunter. That’s literally what he does. I mean, he’s a deep sea diver treasure hunter. So he’s revolutionized some side scanning SONAR. And now what he does is he goes and he looks for old sunken trips, err, ships, he looks for Nazi submarines, those kind of things. So, it kind of runs in the family. I think that he got the gene probably from Forrest and kinda took it and ran with it.
RODRIGUEZ: Well since your story, and even before your story aired, there have been people coming to Santa Fe to meet Forrest Fenn and hanging out in Northern New Mexico looking for the treasure. Your next story is about a guy trying to find the treasure.
SCHWARTZ: Dal Neitzel. He is my frenemy. He is my nemesis. If anybody is close to finding Forrest’s treasure, it’s Dal. This guy - since this story that you’re about to see - he’s put even more work into it. I mean, he’s been pretty close. I think he’s probably the closest out there. He’s also got a fantastic blog, we’ll plug that right after the story.
RODRIGUEZ: Let’s watch.
BRADY: Let’s meet Dal.
DAL NEITZEL: 230,548 miles. 1600 of that is getting down here.
SCHWARTZ: Dal Neitzel has driven more than a thousand miles to Red River to claim the prize he thinks is his. He said I can document the discovery, and if he finds the $2 million treasure.
NEITZEL: I would be so excited. I would be doing little dances on the… I’d be holding it up and jumping up and down like this.
SCHWARTZ: I joined Neitzel a day after he got to Northern New Mexico. He’d been scouting the area, re-visiting Forrest Fenn’s poem for clues.
NEITZEL: I’m having it working a puzzle.
FENN: Below the home of Brown.
SCHWARTZ: But is that a color, a kind of trout, or a last name?
NEITZEL: This big old place, brand new says - Brown.
SCHWARTZ: What’d you think when you saw it?
NEITZEL: I thought here on the Red River, where I believe it is, and you know, the home of Brown right here.
SCHWARTZ: Neitzel isn’t exactly conspicuous walking around carrying an ice axe in the middle of this summer with me trailing behind him with a camera, but this stretch of the Red River is deserted.
NEITZEL: A few people come here, but how many people are going to know about this spot? Forrest maybe.
SCHWARTZ: We walk for miles about how the clues in the poem could fit a prime fishing area we have stumbled upon.
FENN: Begin it where warm waters halt
SCHWARTZ: It’s all a stretch, but Neitzel says this is where there are no more Red River jacuzzis
NEITZEL: The last of these vacation hot tubs
SCHWARTZ: So check
FENN: And take it in the canyon down.
SCHWARTZ: Looks like a canyon to us.
FENN: Not far, but too far to walk.
SCHWARTZ: We’re not really walking, it’s more like slogging.
FENN: From there it’s no place for the meek.
NEITZEL: The end is ever drawing nigh
FENN: There’ll be no paddle up your creek
NEITZEL: Just heavy loads
SCHWARTZ: We get to the spot Neitzel thinks the treasure is hidden.
NEITZEL: If I were going to put a 35 pound box somewhere, a pool like that would be a perfect place.
SCHWARTZ: Icy river water doesn’t scare this treasure hunter, and he plunges right in, but the water is moving too fast to see if there’s a treasure below. There’s no way to get a really clean look at what’s under that waterfall, so we’re gonna take this (gestures to a camera). This is going to act like our sonar. Armed with an underwater camera and Neitzel’s ice axe, I give it a try. Within seconds, I hit something that doesn’t seem right. Tap it right there and see what you think. Moments later we are both poking around freezing water trying to grasp at whatever is making that hollow sound. Finally, we get it out of the whitewater and realize it’s just a rock. Walking out of the forest in squeaky sneakers Neitzel says this is just another place I’ll rule out and if he doesn’t find the treasure, he won’t be disappointed because just being on a quest gives meaning to his life.
NEITZEL: What drags me out here is the beauty. I’m seeing places I never would have seen.
BRADY: Gadi, talking to Forrest Fenn, I know he has talked to you about that how part of this whole thing is getting people outside to enjoy the beauty.
SCHWARTZ: Do you know what kind of an emotional roller coaster that is? I have found this treasure like, five times. And then I start digging and then I pull it up, and then, it’s a rock.
BRADY: So this isn’t just a peaceful nature experience?
SCHWARTZ: No, it’s not. It’s not like a moment in nature where you have enlightenment, this is like you going over the poem over and over again. One time, I actually, I found a can - I had a metal detector, because I’m a nerd like that - and I had this metal detector. I was searching around. It hits something so I start pulling something out. It’s in this kind of little cave. I pull it out, and as I’m uncovering the dirt I see “NN” on this old can, and I’m like “F-E-N-N” and I’m trying to get it, trying to get it and reach my arm in and pull it out. It’s P-E-N-N and it’s an old oil can.
RODRIGUEZ: And then your heart drops a little bit.
SCHWARTZ: It did.
RODRIGUEZ: Here’s something a lot of people don’t know. Gadi and I have been friends for a really long time. We went to college together and we’ve been really good friends. Sometimes we go to dinner and we chat about stuff. I think the last one we went to, we spent like an hour and a half together. An hour and 20 minutes of which we spend talking about Forrest Fenn, and his treasure hunts, and where he’s going to go next to find this treasure.
BRADY: That’s like all your vacations now. That’s all you do - go look for the treasure when you take time off work here right?
SCHWARTZ: Exactly. I’ve got two trips planned this year.
BRADY: And if KOB can pay for those
SCHWARTZ: And they should! They’re using my video you know! And if I find the treasure, I’ll hook KOB up with something you know. Some little trinket.
RODRIGUEZ: You can have a jewel. You can have a necklace.
BRADY: Thanks. I’ll wear it on the air every night. We don’t know exactly how much this is worth. It’d be hard to say right?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, it’s gone from $1 million to $2 million to as much as $4 million. Even Forrest won’t put an actual estimate on it because it fluctuates and it’s all dependent on how much people are going to be able to get from each one of these things if they’re able to find the treasure and put them out on the market.
RODRIGUEZ: Periodically, you’ll hear Gadi in the newsroom reciting the poem, and we put the poem on some graphics so you guys can see it. Gadi, this is a poem that contains nine clues and if you follow these clues precisely you’re supposed to be able to find the treasure right? Start us off, start us off.
BRADY: You have it memorized, right?
RODRIGUEZ: Not if you’re going to look at the prompter.
SCHWARTZ: (recites Forrest’s poem).
BRADY: Very, very close.
SCHWARTZ: That last part I don’t think is a clue, so I don’t
BRADY: And he’s a great poet too!
SCHWARTZ: He says that poem actually took him quite a bit of time to put together. I mean, we’re talking years, so it’s not just a poem. It’s not just geographical areas, he might have actually put some type of cryptogram or like some type of riddle that you have to unlock with math I haven’t gotten that far yet.
BRADY: Oh my gosh. Well, the book, Gadi. Anyone can buy the book at the Collected Works bookshop?
SCHWARTZ: Not this one. This one’s got my secrets in it. I’ve taken a bunch of notes and stuff. Yeah, it’s $35 up at Collected Books up in Santa Fe. It’s the only place that they sell it.
BRADY: And it has Forrest Fenn’s whole story kind of in it too, which obviously as we’ve just seen, as you can tell through the poem is a very interesting guy.
SCHWARTZ: If this isn’t exciting enough for you, he writes about getting shot down twice over Vietnam, ejecting. He talks about quite a few adventures so, and he talks a lot about Yellowstone. Which is nice when you go to Yellowstone, if you think it’s in Yellowstone and you get to see some of the things he talked about as a kid so that’s very interesting.
RODRIGUEZ: One question that I know a lot of people have had is - he’s leaving this treasure out, but why? Why not give it to family? Any children, any nieces or nephews. Why is he doing this?
SCHWARTZ: I think he’s uh, to be honest, uh, his family is probably going to be just fine. You know, I think he’s probably got, I don’t know some people put a lot of money into their legacy. And this is as Forrest Fenn as it gets. I mean, talk about a story that keeps going and going, and gets passed on to different people. And talk about the love of collecting. I mean this is something that he loves to do and he’s being able to inspire other people to do it and get out into the great outdoors. So I think this is his way of, you know, taking a lot of stuff that he’s collected and putting it in a box and letting his legacy go on.
BRADY: Yeah, you’re absolutely right about the legacy. I mean, imagine if this didn’t get discovered for 500 years. What people would be saying about it then?
SCHWARTZ: I hope whoever finds it, re-buries another treasure, because I don’t want this search to end.
RODRIGUEZ: We’re going to take a quick break. When we come back, we’re going to talk about the national exposure that Forrest Fenn has gotten in the last few weeks.
BRADY: Welcome back to Eye on New Mexico. This morning we have been talking to our Gadi Schwartz about the treasure that is now known worldwide. Gadi was the first to bring the stories to us a couple of years ago, but recently the Today Show started airing stories on Forrest Fenn’s treasure.
RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, NBC really picked it up. Their correspondent, Janet Chamblin, filed a story not too long ago. Do you want to watch Janet’s story and we’ll come back and compare it to yours?
JANET CHAMBLIN: The New Mexico mountains have always attracted nature lovers, but the pristine wilderness has never seen so many explorers. Do you think you’re getting close?
MARK HOWARD: I always think I’m getting close, but, you know, attrition alone will get me somewhere.
CHAMBLIN: Mark Howard has made at least 20 trips here - a modern day treasure hunt. Hoping like thousands of others…
NEITZEL: A pool like that would be the perfect place.
CHAMBLIN: ... to strike it rich. They’re all looking for this. A 42 pound bronze chest, filled with a multi-million dollar bounty. Hundreds of gold nuggets and rare coins as well as jewels: emeralds, diamonds and rubies. They were hidden by a man who knows treasure when he sees it.
FENN: It’s home. Here’s where I’m most comfortable.
CHAMBLIN: For decades, Forrest Fenn has hunted down, collected, and sold art and artifacts to the rich and a few famous.
FENN: This is a brandy bottle Jackie Kennedy left in my guesthouse.
CHAMBLIN: It brought him his own fortune and a good life. After 328 combat missions in Vietnam, he felt bulletproof right up to the day of his terminal cancer diagnosis. So you started filling this chest, but what was the goal?
FENN: If I’ve got to go, why not let someone else have just as much fun with this as I have?
CHAMBLIN: Fenn wanted others to experience the same thrill of the chase. So, he hid the chest and wrote a memoir, with a poem offering nine clues.
FENN: Begin it where warm waters halt.
CHAMBLIN: It’s been almost three years since Forrest says he stashed the gold and the jewels. Thousands have trekked out here to the mountains based on his clues, and yet that treasure remains as elusive as the day it was hidden. Hundreds have emailed Fenn about finding not the gold, but something more valuable. A son planning a trip with his dad writes, “...the real treasure might just be bringing family together.” Do you want someone to find this?
FENN: I’m ambivalent about that. You know I could go either way.
CHAMBLIN: Fenn says with the treasure unclaimed, the adventure continues. It may be a gift worth more than the gold itself.
RODRIGUEZ: Since we were saying that piece ran on the Today Show. I think it ran again on Nightly News and so the whole world now knows about Forrest Fenn and for a little gallery owner in Santa Fe, it was pretty good for business.
SCHWARTZ: This is a really, really big way to get New Mexico “out there” as this great place. We’ve got beautiful outdoors, and we’ve got a lot of places to hide treasure and it kind of adds to our lore, so, um too bad. I don’t think it’s in New Mexico. But, there’s a lot of people who do, and, again, I don’t have the treasure, so I could be completely wrong. I've actually looked at this poem, and there are things in that poem where, somebody could be looking at that poem, and think that it’s in Santa Fe. You’re talking take it in the canyon down? That’s Canyon Road. He made his fortune along Canyon Road - at the end of Canyon Road on Paseo del Peralta. Warm waters halt - there’s 10,000 waves just up the way. Obviously the Santa Fe mountains are gorgeous. So, he talks about Santa Fe, he talks a little bit about Taos, and then he talks a lot about Yellowstone. So it could be in any of those places.
BRADY: Yeah, and it has to be somewhere where an 80 year old man could get to.
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, that’s one of the clues, one of the additional clues that he said. He said he put it there when he was about 79 - 80. And so imagine, and he also says that he took it down in two parts. So this isn’t some 44 pounds he couldn’t lug it in there and put it in wherever he put it in. He had to take it in two parts and then stash it in. And again, he’s corrected me so many times, “Gadi - it’s not buried. It’s not buried. Don’t say it’s buried.” So it’s not buried. It’s stashed. I don’t know if that means underwater, or in a little cubby or something but he does say that.
BRADY: Okay that’s a good clue, but now you have so much competition Gadi, from these stories that ran on the Today Show and am I right that he is going to be giving a regular clue on the Today Show?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, yeah. Not too happy about that. And we’ve been giving clues here at KOB. And we do stories you know. I know quite a bit about Forrest so the clue we gave last week, which I think is very important, may or may not be a clue, but he’s got two dogs. One is named Tesuque and the other dog’s name is Cody. Obviously, those are two important places to him. They’re talking about places so, those might be able to point people in the right direction.
RODRIGUEZ: And speaking of the last clues that he gave this week on KOB, we have another story for you right?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah, that’s right. His book is selling, I think it’s on backorder right now. Four thousand copies are on backorder so they’re printing them like a storm. And this is the story where we went with Forrest Fenn to the printing press. Somewhere near the mountains south of Santa Fe, a printing press is putting ink on pages that could lead to millions of dollars worth of treasure.
FENN: We need to get the kids off the couch, away from the game room, and out into the mountains.
SCHWARTZ: This is art collector Forrest Fenn’s autobiography. And in the book is a poem with nine clues that will tell you where he has hidden a treasure for the person smart enough to solve his riddle.
NEITZEL: But how many people are gonna know about this spot?
SCHWARTZ: And readers have been scouring every inch of this book looking for hints.
FENN: A lot of people are getting numbers off the postmarks. They think they’re coordinates. Just put it in a computer to figure out that’s going to lead them to where this treasure chest is because it’s coordinates on the ground. They go to Google Earth. It’s home. Here’s where I feel most comfortable.
SCHWARTZ: This month, the Today Show picked up the story and the book quickly sold out at Collected Works - the only bookstore where it’s sold.
FENN: I'm not making one penny from this book. I’ve given these books to the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe, and I don’t even get a return on my publishing costs. Because I didn’t want people to say that the treasure chest was a fraud just to sell a book.
SCHWARTZ: So far, there are about 5,000 books in circulation. In the next few weeks, there will be 15,000 more. Do you ever get nervous that people are getting too close?
FENN: No. If they find it, I’m happy with that. I mean, I could go either way. I’ve said that 100 times. But I’m not looking at this weekend or spring break. I'm looking at a hundred years, maybe a thousand years from now. If somebody finds it tomorrow that’s fine. But they’re not going to happen on it. They’re gonna have to figure out the clues in the poem that’ll take them right straight to it.
SCHWARTZ: Did you see the kind of poker face we’re working with? He didn’t even - he’s nervous! He’s nervous!
BRADY: You’re seeing things we’re not seeing Gadi. You’re seeing every bead of sweat.
SCHWARTZ: Age 39 - is that a coordinate?
BRADY: Well that brings up an interesting point. I was thinking about with millions of people that could be looking for this, so many people are into this kind of thing, there are a lot of smart people out there. There are a lot of people that could write computer programs to help them with this.
SCHWARTZ: Those are the guys I’m worried about. I’m just hoping that I have better outdoor skills. And they wouldn’t go into grizzly bear caves. By the way, Forrest has said stop looking in grizzly bear caves. So I take that as a clue that it’s not in a grizzly bear cave.
BRADY: I hope. RODRIGUEZ: Or maybe it’s some safety advice that you shouldn’t go into grizzly bear caves.
SCHWARTZ: And if you do go into some grizzly bear caves, throw in some dynamite or something to get the bears out first.
BRADY: You haven’t bought dynamite I hope?
SCHWARTZ: I’ve got some - KOB has all kinds of stuff. “Four on your Side” dynamite. So one of the interesting things that’s happening to this book. There’s about, there’s going to be about 15,000 or 20,000 of these books in circulation. Which, if you think about it, is not that many for as many people that know about this story now. But we’re starting to see this book pop up on Amazon, and EBay. I saw it earlier this week selling for $500. It’s a $35 book, and someone’s trying to sell it for $500, and people are paying for it because they can’t get it.
RODRIGUEZ: I wonder how much yours is worth with all your clues.
SCHWARTZ: hmmm $2.3 million.
BRADY: You can retire now Gadi, just give up your clues.
SCHWARTZ: I’ve got some good clues in here, but again, it might be, actually there’s one thing that I’ve been, let’s see if I can find it. You guys talk while I try to find this. I’m going to share something that I thought was very interesting.
RODRIGUEZ: What are some of the clues that you found that are not in the book?
SCHWARTZ: Well, he says that the, uh, that the poem has nine clues, and the book is helpful in deciphering what those clues mean.
BRADY: So you could do it with just the poem?
SCHWARTZ: Just the poem. Right, you could do it with just the poem, but the book is kind of helpful.
BRADY: Kind of a guide.
SCHWARTZ: Here’s a package that I’ve kind of kicked around. Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead. I dreamed the other night that I had been reincarnated as Captain Kidd, and went to Gardiner’s island looking for the treasure. It scared me so badly, it jarred me awake and I don’t remember if I found it or not. Gardiner. That’s kind of an interesting name.
BRADY: Gardiner Island?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah. It’s kind of an interesting reference. Gardiner is also the northern entrance to Yellowstone as well. There’s a Gardiner, Montana. And so it’s that, umm. Have you guys ever seen Yellowstone - those big pillars and it looks like you’re entering Jurassic Park? That’s Gardiner. I don’t know. That might be something to lead people in a certain direction that the treasure may be in.
RODRIGUEZ: Well, next summer, I think your family and my family should join up with Gadi’s family and all go to Yellowstone, or Santa Fe, or, or Taos and we’ll find the treasure.
BRADY: Safety in numbers. If we put enough of us everywhere, we can share it?
SCHWARTZ: Yeah right. Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead. You didn’t hear that part?
BRADY: Well if one of us ends up dead, we’ll know why.
RODRIGUEZ: Plus with grizzly bear attacks from going into grizzly bear caves.
BRADY: Gadi thanks for - you didn’t share much with us today, but thanks for coming on and talking about it. It was very fun. And thanks for watching this morning.
RODRIGUEZ: We’ll see you next week. Happy treasure hunting.
|9264||3/05/2013||CBC As It Happens|
|Link: Click Here
JEFF DOUGLAS: So why is it that I must go and leave my trove for all to seek? The answers I already know. I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak. So hear me all, and listen good. Your effort will be worth the cold. If you are brave and in the wood, I give you title to the gold. That is the work of a poet named Forrest Fenn. The complete poem is estimated to be worth millions of dollars. See, Mr. Fenn is not a full time poet. He’s an 82 year old antiquities collector who has come up with a complex and novel way to give away a fortune. Mr. Fenn has filled a chest with treasure. Yes. A treasure chest filled with gold coins and the like. He has hidden the treasure somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. To find it, treasure hunters will have to figure out the clues hidden in Mr. Fenn’s poem. We reached Forrest Fenn in Santa Fe.
CAROL OFF: Mr. Fenn what exactly is in this treasure chest?
FORREST FENN: To answer your question briefly, there are 265 gold coins most of them are American Eagles and Double Eagles. There’s a total weight in gold of 2.2 troy pounds of gold in the treasure chest. There’s lots of, hundreds of gold nuggets, two gold nuggets weigh more than a troy pound each, but there are hundreds of them. There are pre-Columbian figures that are 1500 years old, a wonderful 2,000 year old necklace with fetishes carved out of quartz crystal and other semi-precious stones. You know, it just goes on and on. The treasure chest weighs 42 pounds and is just 10 by 10 inches square.
OFF: And this is - anyone who finds it, can keep it?
FENN: That’s right, but they have to go get it.
OFF: Ok good. Therein lies the rub. So, just tell us first of all why you decided to do this.
FENN: In 1988 I was diagnosed with what everybody thought was terminal cancer. I lost a kidney, and my doctors gave me a 20 percent chance of living three years. It took a couple of weeks for that to soak in. Then, I finally decided that if I’ve got to go, I’m just going to take it with me, or take some of it with me. I’ve had so much fun collecting things over the last 75 years, that I thought it would be kind of neat for other people to have as much fun as I’ve had. That prompted me to buy a wonderful early old antique treasure chest. I gave $25,000 for the treasure chest. Over the months and years, after 1988, I started filling the treasure chest up with precious things. There are hundreds of rubies and diamonds and emeralds. Two Ceylon sapphires, and you know, just goes on and on.
OFF: So this is being put together because this would be something that you’d leave behind for others to find, but this was in 1988 you had the idea. If I might point out, you’re still alive and kicking so, things changed for you then healthwise, I guess?
FENN: Well, uh, I thought I was gonna die in 1988 and 1989 and, you know, I had an elaborate plan to hide this treasure chest and take it with me, and the story was ruined when I got well. So I had to change all my plans, but I did hide the treasure chest. It’s in the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
OFF: You have left clues in the form of a poem.
FENN: Yes ma’am.
OFF: The clues are buried there.
FENN: The clues are in the poem and my book has hints that will help a person with the clues. The book won’t take you to the treasure chest, but the book will help you with the clues that are in the poem.
OFF: So maybe a little key to the clues and the poem then?
FENN: There are nine clues in the poem, and if you can figure out those clues, they will take you to the treasure chest, and you can have it if you can find it.
OFF: Well some of them seem… Some of the clues maybe are things that people locally would know. You say, “Begin it where warm waters halt and take it in the canyon down. Not far, but too far to walk. Put in below the home of Brown. That seems like a couple of clues to me.
FENN: That sounds like three or four to me.
OFF: I guess you have to know where the home of Brown is.
FENN: That’s right.
FENN: And you have to know where warm waters halt.
OFF: Ah-ha. But it says there’ll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high. Mmm, couple more clues there.
FENN: Sounds like it to me.
OFF: So, I’m not leading. I’m not tempting you to disclose anything here then?
FENN: No, I’m not going to give any more clues.
OFF: How many people have taken up your challenge?
FENN: Well I don’t know. I know of hundreds but I probably don’t know but five or ten percent. They don’t always tell me they’re going out. As of this morning, I’ve receive a little over 9,200 emails. All of them are telling me where they want to go, or asking questions or something. You know, they think I’m going to give them another clue, but I’m not going to. I usually respond to an email when I get the first one from someone.
OFF: Why do you want people to do this? To go out looking for this treasure?
FENN: We have a problem in this world today, Carole, with our youth. And I blame parents for a lot of that, those problems. I think they should get their kids out of the game room and off the couch and away from their little texting machines and get them out in the countryside and let them smell the sunshine and walk through the forest and scare up some squirrels and find out what’s going on with nature. That’s my real goal.
OFF: Do you think that anyone that’s gone out looking for the treasure has done that? Found themselves in the forest and the mountains and enjoying that in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise?
FENN: I have hundreds and hundreds of emails from people that thank me for giving them the opportunity to do that. Yes, your answer is very positively yes.
OFF: Do you think you’ll eventually meet the person that finds this treasure?
FENN: Well, I’ll tell you what, Carole, I think that the person that’s gonna figure out the clues and go on to find the treasure is the kind of person that’s not going to be able to keep it quiet. I think I will know. As a matter of fact, in the treasure chest there’s my autobiography. 20,000 words in a little olive jar that’s protected from the elements. You know, if somebody finds the treasure chest 10,000 years from now, they’ll be able to read that autobiography and know something about me and why I did these things.
OFF: Any chance that this treasure is in Canada?
FENN: Well, I’ve told people that it’s in the Rocky Mountains.
OFF: Well the Rocky Mountains go into Canada. So there’s a chance it’s here?
FENN: You know your geography pretty good don’t you?
OFF: That’s not difficult.
FENN: I’m not going to narrow it down
OFF: Let’s go look for Brown’s place. Mr. Fenn, it’s great to talk to you. Thank you.
FENN: Thank you.
DOUGLAS: That was Santa Fe antiquities dealer, Forrest Fenn. If you want to read his poem, you can go to our website at cbc.ca/aih.
|9271||7/17/2016||Rudy Maxa Travel Show|
|Link: Click Here
RUDY MAXA: My next guest is a retired Air Force fighter pilot. He’s also a successful antique dealer. But, he has written a poem, a rather long poem. And in that poem, he buried clues to the whereabouts of, well, buried treasure. There’s no other phrase for it. In this treasure box, I’m told that there are 265 gold coins, hundreds of gold nuggets, hundreds of rubies, eight emeralds, two Ceylon sapphires, diamonds, two ancient Chinese jade carvings, pre-Columbian gold bracelets and more. That’s what our next guest tells us, that’s what he said he did. I’m delighted to welcome Major Forrest Fenn to the show. Major Fenn, nice to have you here.
FORREST FENN: (unintelligible).
MAXA: Nice to have you here Mr. Fenn. Are you with us?
FENN: I’m with you.
MAXA: Okay. So now, tell us the history of this poem and why you did this.
FENN: Well, in 1988 I was diagnosed with what everybody thought was terminal cancer. I lost a kidney, and my surgeon told me I had a 20 percent chance of living three years. So I told myself If I’ve got to go, I’ve had so much fun collecting these things over the years why not let somebody else have the same opportunity that I’ve had? So I bought this beautiful little treasure chest - cast bronze treasure chest. I gave $25,000 for it and I started filling it up with wonderful things. All gold and some jewels and gems. I invite everybody to read my poem and go out and find the treasure chest.
MAXA: Alright, we will tell them how to read the poem in a minute. But first, in what - I know you live in New Mexico. Is the treasure buried in New Mexico? Or could it be anywhere in the Rocky Mountains?
FENN: Well, it’s buried more than eight and a half miles north of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains but below the Canadian border.
MAXA: Okay, that gives us a hint of where it is. Now, Major Fenn’s book is called, “The Thrill of the Chase.”
FENN: That’s the name of my book, yes.
MAXA: And on page 132 of that book, is a poem with 24 verses that contain nine clues that pertain to where this treasure is.
FENN: That’s right.
MAXA: Major Fenn, I told you this when I talked to you yesterday, I received an email from someone I don’t know saying, “I understand you’re having Fenn on your radio show this weekend. I’m about to - this weekend - I’m going to dig up the treasure. I know right where it is. You might want to have me on the radio show too. So, you’ve heard this before haven’t you?
FENN: Well, about 1500 times.
MAXA: These are people that write you and say, “I know where it is.”
FENN: Oh yeah, they always do that. They’re looking for clues.
MAXA: What do you say to them?
FENN: Well, I tell them if you know where it is, why don’t you go get it and send me a picture and then we’ll discuss it.
MAXA: Well that’s what I said to this gentleman who wrote me. I said, “Listen, if you really think you’ve found it, send me a photograph of it. If Major Fenn validates it, we’ll have you on the show next week.” So you’ll have to tune in next week to see if this guy really did find it.
FENN: Well you’ll never hear from him again.
MAXA: Well, Forrest, do some people not - do some people think this is a hoax and not real?
FENN: There are four or five people over the last six years that have said the treasure was a hoax. What happens is, they think they know exactly where the treasure is, so they go there and the treasure’s not there then one of two things is happening. EIther somebody’s already found it, or the whole thing is a hoax. They like to make some noise on the blogs. The fact is that all of them are still out there searching for the treasure.
MAXA: Do you know if anyone has even come close?
FENN: I know that several people have been within 200 feet of the treasure because they told me exactly where they were.
MAXA: Oh my goodness. That’s incredible.
FENN: But they don’t know who they are. They don’t know that they were the ones that were close.
MAXA: Right, you didn’t say, oh my goodness you were 200 feet away right?
FENN: Never would I say that.
MAXA: Okay, now, you mentioned your brush with cancer in 1988. You were also shot down by enemy fire in Laos and Vietnam when you were a fighter pilot during the Vietnam war. You seem to be the cat with nine lives, but if you, God forbid, passed away tomorrow, who would know where that treasure is?
FENN: Me and God are the only 2 people.
FENN: No one knows on this planet but me, and I’m not gonna tell anybody.
MAXA: Not even your wife knows?
FENN: No, no. She doesn’t know within 18 months of when I hid the treasure
MAXA: Really. Unbelievable. We are talking with a gentleman, who has hidden in the Rocky Mountains somewhere near Santa Fe, a treasure chest filled with rare jewels. Anything unusual in there that we should know about?
FENN: Well I didn’t say near Santa Fe, I said in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, and that could be 800 or 900 miles north of Santa Fe.
MAXA: I see, so if you drew a circle around Santa Fe, it would be, it would be a big circle.
FENN: A lot of people think - it has to be north of Santa Fe. A lot of people think it’s in New Mexico. That’s where most of the searchers are, but a lot of people go to Montana, Wyoming, Yellowstone, Yosemite looking for the treasure also. One of my motives was to get the kids off of the couch and out of the game room and out into the mountains. That was one of my deciding factors to hide this treasure chest.
MAXA: I love it. Forrest Fenn is my guest if you’ve just tuned in, as I’ve said. And so, how do you find this treasure chest? Well, you look at the poem that Major Fenn has written in his book, “The Thrill of the Chase” on page 132 is this 24 verse poem and he says there are nine clues in that, and will lead you to this incredible treasure. And if you dig it up and find it, it’s yours to keep and you’ll be a couple million dollars richer at least in the value of the jewels and the other items that are in there. How did you accumulate all these valuable jewels?
FENN: Well, it’s not that easy. Two of the nuggets weigh more than a troy pound each and are larger than a hen’s egg but there are hundreds of gold nuggets in there and some of the coins have numismatic value. It’s just wonderful. If you find that treasure chest and put it on your lap and open that lid it’ll be a culture shock for you.
MAXA: And how long ago did you bury this?
FENN: about six years ago. I’ve never told anybody exactly when.
MAXA: Alright, but folks have been looking for at least six years for this right?
FENN: That’s right, yes.
MAXA: Do you have any sense of how many people have searched already?
FENN: Well I think before this summer started, I think there were about 65,000 people that have been out looking and I spent a lot of time estimating that. I’ve received several hundred thousand emails. I’m still getting over a hundred a day.
MAXA: You get a hund-
FENN: I get over a hundred emails a day from searchers, yes.
MAXA: And they’re looking for clues.
FENN: Well a lot of them. But many of them say, “Mr. Fenn we know we’re not going to find your treasure, but I want to thank you for getting me and my kids off the couch and out into the sunshine. That’s very rewarding to me.
MAXA: Excellent. You have gotten more people out to travel than, well I don’t know if it’s more than this radio show, but I applaud your efforts. I think it’s very creative and we’ll stay in touch with you. Please let us know when it’s found so we can have you and the finder on the show, won’t you?
FENN: I’ll do that for sure, thank you, sir.
MAXA: You are welcome. The website is where you can find more about this. It is, let me spell it for you: dalneitzel.com. Now, I know that doesn’t make sense to you, so I’m sure Janet will post that on my fanpage on Facebook and rudymaxa.com and we’ll try to get it up on rmtravelworld.com as well on Facebook. At any rate, Forrest Fenn. What a major guy. I just love this.
|9285||5/8/2017||On the Road with Charlie - Part One|
|Link: Click Here
Note: This transcription begins at the 6:18 mark of this recording and stops at 34:06. Outside of these times, Forrest Fenn does not speak.
FORREST FENN: Well my father was a school teacher and Junior High School principal. That’s how I managed to graduate from high school. I had some politics working for me. I made terrible grades, and I prayed for D’s. Once in awhile I’d get a B or a C and everybody was jubilant over that. In the back of my mind, I kept telling myself that education didn’t have anything for me.
ISAAC COLE: And, uhhh
FENN: I remember looking out the window on a bright sunny day. The sunshine smelled so good and I kept asking myself what am I doing in here? I said in my book The Thrill of the Chase in Spanish class, right outside my window on 2nd floor, there was an old iron fire escape. I could get on that thing and slide down. I did that a few times while the teacher was writing on the blackboard, so she didn’t know that I was doing that but the problem was that old iron fire escape was rusted, and it really turned the bottom of my pants brown. And everybody, going to the next class, everybody knew what I had done. Everybody giggled. That was one of my great secrets that I discovered that all by myself and I was so proud.
COLE: Even back then you liked taking adventures - getting out there?
COLE: Did you grow up with money? Were you comfortable?
FENN: I don’t remember when it was, but when I was about seven, eight, or nine years old in Texas my father worked for the city’s - he was a school teacher and principal. I can remember, there was a Gilmore-Aiken law in the state legislature was passed, and they go to sign it and my father’s salary jumped to $4000 a year. I remember that. That was about a third increase in his pay. So that answers your question. I remember the guy that lived next door to me lived in a brick house and so everybody knew he was wealthy. His father owned a gas station and I was in this little old hamburger joint one time and I remember, Millard was his name, he put a nickel in the machine to play a tune in the jukebox. I couldn’t believe he would squander a nickel to listen to a song for two and a half minutes. I mean, a nickel would buy you a Wimpy hamburger, Coca-Cola, bag of Fritos, an ice cream bar. Jeez, nickels were magic when I was a kid. I could make things work, you know, I told myself early on that I didn’t really want to break any rules but I sure as heck gonna stretch the heck out of some of them. How do you know where the edge is if you don’t know where to look? To me, rules were a guide. You should follow the rules, generally speaking, unless you have a better idea. And, the old saying is, it ain’t stupid if it works.
COLE: And how about later in life? How did you, how did you come into success?
FENN: I joined the Air Force in 1950 when the Korean War was new. And I did that because I was prime for the draft and I knew I wasn’t going to go into the Army so I joined the Air Force. The military grabbed hold of me and when I was 28 years old, I was a fighter pilot in the Air Force in Bitberg, Germany. The 2nd day I was in Bitberg Air Force Base, they took me down to supply, and I signed a requisition form for an atomic bomb. I owned that thing. It was on a dolly and it had a crew chief, like an airplane has a crew chief, but that bomb couldn’t move one inch unless I was standing there supervising it. So here’s a kid that didn’t know anything, didn’t have any education, and they gave me authority, they gave me responsibility, and I grew into that. And it paid off for me in a million ways. You gotta get a haircut once a week whether you like it or not and haircuts were a quarter, and they came out of your pocket and those were the rules.
COLE: So what did you do after serving?
FENN: After what?
COLE: After your time in the - did you say Air Force or Navy?
FENN: It was Air Force. I had a hard tour in Vietnam. I was shot down twice. I flew 328 combat missions in 348 days, and I ran a command post. I was a Major and ran a command post so I was working 16 hours every day for a year and I lost 22 pounds and didn’t even know it. I mean, we don’t have any scales in the combat zone. I came home mentally tired, and physically tired and I was looking for a place where the world would stop and let me off. Santa Fe was that place.
COLE: Now I hear that, uhh, you’re a big fly fisherman? I am as well.
FENN: I was a professional fishing guide when I was 13 years old.
COLE: In Texas?
FENN: No in Yellowstone. West Yellowstone, Montana and I could - I ran a tackle shop all by myself. The guy that owned it was drunk all the time, so one summer I ran the tackle shop. I could make a gross of flies in a day and wait on customers at the same time. But you know, I tied catgut leaders, tapered leaders, I made split bamboo fly rods. I had a name for every fish in that country up there: Mary and Phyllis and Johnny and I knew where all the holes were. I’m an outdoors person. It wasn’t so much fishing, it was being there. I remember when I could hardly wait to get on the river, and catch a big old brown trout. I’d get out there, get out of my car and look around and walk over and sit under a tree for an hour and watch the Osprey catch fish, and watch the Eagles try to take it away from the Osprey. God has a summer place up there you know?
COLE: I haven’t fished up in West Yellowstone, but I grew up going to uh, a cousin of mine owns Campfire Lodge.
FENN: What’s the name of it?
COLE: Campfire Lodge. It has a little restaurant there and log cabins and it’s right on Madison.
FENN: That’s after my time.
COLE: Yeah, probably.
FENN: Because I spent 19 of my first 20 summers - three months - in Yellowstone, or West Yellowstone, but the last time I was up there was 1950.
COLE: I was just uh, I spent the last week up in Buena Vista on the Arkansas, and man that was beautiful and then I was doing some research last night before talking to you, and it turns out a lot of people think the treasure is buried around there.
FENN: In Arkansas?
COLE: No. Outside of Buena Vista, Colorado. The Arkansas River.
FENN: That’s in the Rocky Mountains, so it’s within the perimeters.
COLE: And then I saw there’s a Brown Canyon there, but to me. You know, at first, I didn’t even know that people thought that could be a possibility there. I was just fishin. I’d rather, I’d rather fish than look for treasure, personally. I’d rather be in the water throwing flies than looking for treasure. Alright, let’s talk about the treasure. Why did you do this? Why did you hide the treasure?
FENN: Well, I talked about that in my book, The Thrill of The Chase, but in 1988 I was diagnosed with what everybody thought was terminal cancer. I lost a kidney. My doctor told me I had a 20 percent chance of living three years. And, you know, it takes a couple of weeks for all of those things to digest. You know, you go through all the emotions from denial to fear to hate to regret and sorrow and all of those, but I decided that I didn’t subscribe to a lot of things that I’d heard of. Who says I can’t take it with me? Who makes those rules for me? I don’t like that. I decided that I’d get this little treasure chest. I found this beautiful little treasure chest; I paid $25,000 for that thing. And I started filling it up with wonderful little things: hundreds of gold nuggets, 265 gold coins most of them American Eagles and Double Eagles, Middle Eastern gold coins that date into the 1500’s and then there’s two beautiful little antique jade Chinese carvings and there’s a Tyrona and Sinu necklace that’s a thousand years old with quartz crystal fetishes and gold jaguar claws. I mean wonderful stuff. I wanted something that was good enough to entice people, and worth enough to make it worthwhile. I had two or three motives. My main motive really was starting a pretty good recession. Lots of people were losing their jobs and I wanted to give some hope. Despair was written on the headlines of every paper, and that affected me, and I wanted to give some people some hope. A secondary motive was we’re a sedentary society today. We’re overweight. We’re sitting on the couch watching TV or playing with our little electronic gadgets. I don’t like what I’m seeing. I wanted to get the kids out into the mountains: hiking, fishing, swimming, hunting. All of those things. And I’ve done that. I think 100,000 people have been out looking for my treasure since we started. Did I answer? I forgot what the question was!
COLE: It’s alright. It was why you hid the treasure. And yeah, you answered it. Was part of it to maybe create a legacy?
FENN: You know, I don’t think about - when I’m gone, my name will be nothing but an asterisk in a book and I don’t think about those things. You can’t not have a legacy, but that’s not something that I aspire to have - a big legacy. If you want to say something about me, say it now so I can punch you in the nose.
COLE: When I first started learning about the story, people would say oh, well it’s a brilliant marketing scheme to sell books.
FENN: I have an answer for that. I gave all the books to the Collected Works bookstore. I didn’t even get my printing costs back. And so far, they’ve sold about 22,000 copies of The Thrill of The Chase book. And my sequel to that, Too Far To Walk, they’ve sold 1,500 - 1,800 of those things. Pretty good for a little kid that lived next to a cemetery in a little town in Texas who had no education and no aspirations. When I made a C in high school, everybody thought I’d exceeded my expectations.
COLE: So the proceeds of the books go to this bookstore that we’re in?
FENN: I beg your pardon?
COLE: So the books go to this bookstore that we’re in?
FENN: Yeah. Dorothy. She owns all the books. All of this book. My grandson, and his three sisters own my Too Far to Walk book. But I self-publish and I don’t have any distribution so these people have to do all the work.
COLE: RIght. And Cynthia said that you also donate some money to the cancer -
FENN: The deal I made with the bookstore here was, since I gave them all the books for free, I wanted them to set aside 10 percent of the gross sales for a cancer fund. Since I had cancer, I know what it feels like to have that and I know what it’s like to have cancer and not have any money to survive it.
COLE: When you had cancer, you didn’t have money?
FENN: I had insurance. I had my military retirement pay. And I made a few bucks in the art business, I mean, I could afford it but a lot of people could not. I was thinking mostly about kids, to categorize it further, Indian kids who have almost nothing and it turns out that the government takes pretty good care of some of those categories. I’ve given, I think, $85,000 away to cancer patients, and it’s very rewarding to me to be able to do that.
COLE: The community in the Thrill of The Chase and the treasure hunt has become massive. Like you said, there’s thousands of people looking for it. Did you ever, uh, think that it would get this big?
FENN: No. I’ve written 10 books and nobody’s ever wanted any of them. Every writer thinks their book is the greatest thing ever printed. My parents were dead, so who’s gonna buy my Thrill of the Chase book? So I printed a thousand copies thinking I’m going to die with these things. Two weeks later I went into reprint. There’s a lady by the name of Margie Goldsmith in Manhattan that wrote a story for Hemispheres magazine. The next day I got 1200 emails. Shut my system down. It took me three days to get my computer back up online.
COLE: Was that a little bit of a shock?
FENN: It was a shock, yeah. But I still get about a hundred emails a day.
COLE: Has it become a nuisance, or do you enjoy it - how big it’s gotten?
FENN: Well, I’ve gone from one end of the spectrum to the other. I feel obligated to the people who are searching, and that’s why I continue to do it, but I don’t enjoy most of it anymore. Another thing - I spent a lot of time thinking about what I was gonna do: fifteen years from the start to the time I actually hid that treasure. I tried to think of everything. What I didn’t think of is that, I’m convinced, seven percent of the American population are certifiably crazy. I mean, I get emails that are incoherent, or they talk about things that are so far out - Jiminy Christmas, I just don’t know.
COLE: Umm, I bet you get a lot of people begging for clues, or tell you how sad their story is, and how they could really use the money and begging you for some -
FENN: Well, no. Nobody begs me for anything. The big phrase is, “Am I hot or am I cold?” And they tell me where they think. Of course, I can’t afford to respond to that. I can’t narrow the search area for them. The overwhelming number of people, uh, I get a letter from a mother or a father and it’ll say, “Mr. Fenn we know we’re not going to find the treasure but I just want to thank you for getting us out of the - we’d never been to Yellowstone, or we’ve never been to New Mexico, and we’re learning about geography”, and therein lies my reward.
COLE: Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of people, you know, the joy of it is being in nature and some people even think that that is the treasure. The joy they get from being in nature is the treasure.
FENN: There’s a quote in the new Duveen book that said, “They never knew it was the chase they sought and not the quarry.”
COLE: That’s the same for me for fly fishing. Yeah, I love catching a nice brown trout or rainbow trout, but it’s being in the river
FENN: You don’t catch anything you’re way ahead.
FENN: But I got a phone call from a lady that was writing a story for Texas Monthly or someplace down there. She said, “Mr. Fenn I read your book.” She said, “That’s a very strange book.” She said, “Who is your audience for a book like that?” and I said, “My audience is every Texan redneck with a pick up truck who lost his job and has 12 kids and a bedroll.” I said, “That’s my audience. I want him - That’s who I want to go out and find the treasure.” I get emails everyday that “I’m a redneck from Texas (laughs).” I got an email from a little girl that said, “Mr. Fenn if I find the treasure, do I have to share it with my brother?” I wrote her back and I said, “Ask your father.”
COLE: That’s so… That’s hilarious. And then I’ve heard that you said that people have been within 200 feet of it? Is that true?
FENN: I know that (pause) I know that people have been within 200 feet, because they tell me exactly where they are. I don’t know that anyone has been closer than 200 feet and I don’t think they have. Of course, so many people don’t tell me where they are searching, but the treasure is still out there.
COLE: Why do you think no one has found it?
COLE: Why do you think no one has found it?
FENN: Because they haven’t discovered where it is.
COLE: You think that’s not looking hard enough? I mean, if you’re within 200 feet of it, and you don’t find it
FENN: But they don’t know - they didn’t know they were within 200 feet of it either.
COLE: Right. RIght. When you’re within 200 feet of it there’s still 1000 places that could be within 200 feet that you could be looking and not see it.
FENN: Well, it’s hidden in a pretty good place. It’s difficult to find, but it certainly isn’t impossible. But if you’re gonna find the treasure, you’re gonna have to solve the riddle that’s in my poem. The nine clues that are in my poem. Nobody’s gonna happen on that treasure chest.
COLE: Right. Right. You’ve said that it’s hidden in a place where you’d like to pass away. Can you talk about that?
FENN: Well, when the doctor told me I had a 20 percent chance to live, I made up my mind that I was gonna die. My father had terminal pancreas cancer. They didn’t give him six months to live. 18 months later he was still alive. But he called me on the phone one night and he told me, “Forrest, I’m going to take 50 sleeping pills tonight.” I said, “Dad, I’ll be there first thing in the morning.” He said, “That’s too late.” And it was. But I respected him because he wanted to do it on his own terms. Who says you have to follow everybody else’s rules? And that was paramount in my mind. When they told me that I was gonna die, okay. I accept that, but I’m going to do it my way not your way. Who wants to be in a coffin underground? It’s dark, it’s cold, you can’t see out. I’ve always said, lay me down under a big tall pine tree and go on back to town. Every animal on the planet does it that way except the human being. It’s the only animal that doesn’t do it that way. I don’t subscribe to a lot of those things.
COLE: I agree with you, yeah. I’m the same way. I’d rather turn back into earth than be locked up in a box.
FENN: Let my bones be fertilizer to grow some more pine trees.
COLE: Yeah, the energy continues on.
FENN: That’s right.
COLE: And, another question I have is, would you be disappointed if no one finds it in your lifetime?
FENN: I’m ambivalent about that. I really don’t have an opinion. Somebody could find it tomorrow, or a thousand years they’re still looking.
COLE: Um, another question I have is do you have any regrets?
FENN: About the treasure?
COLE: Yeah. Start with that.
FENN: When I hid that treasure, I had to make two trips from my car. There’s 20.2 troy pounds of gold in that treasure chest and a lot of coins have numismatic value way beyond the spot. When I was walking back to my car the last time, nobody around any place, and out loud, in a loud voice, I said, “Forrest Fenn did you really do that?” and I started laughing. But in the back of my mind, I knew that if I was sorry tomorrow, I could go back and get it. And so, the more I thought about this, the more I thought, “No, I’m not going to go back and get that thing. I like that. I mean, I’ve had so much fun over 70 years collecting that stuff, when I go, why not give somebody the same opportunity that I’ve had. I love that idea. The philosophy of that - get out in the mountains and… I got an email from this little kid from Florida. He said, “What am I going to do in the mountains?” I said, “Find an old rotten log. Turn it over and see what’s under it. I mean, you’re gonna find grubs, you’re gonna find ants, you’re gonna find all kinds of - write me a letter and tell me what you found and I got a three page letter from that kid. He went on and on. I saw their experiences and energies and education under every log and every mountain.
COLE: So true. Yeah, it’s so true.
FENN: Another thing that I might add that I think about a lot… When you’re sitting under a tree, way out in the wilderness someplace, look at the tree. You’ll find ants climbing up that tree. And you have to realize, that you could have been born an ant instead of a human being. In that same context, that ant is part of a society, just like you are. I mean, his problem is food, and hailstorm and winter. I mean, the problems are the same, and I think that’s a very interesting thought. I’ve thought about that a lot. You’re very fortunate to be a human being and an American. And we don’t appreciate that enough, I don’t think.
COLE: One thing I think about a lot is when you look at the grand scope of things, we kind of are like ants.
FENN: Sure, sure. But there’s so many questions you know? Why is the grass green? Who made that rule, and why does all the grass follow it?
COLE: Yeah, yeah, I know. Too many mysteries. How long did it take you to write the poem? You’ve probably covered this before but
FENN: Well I worked on the poem on and off for a few years. Because I had to change it. I thought I was gonna die. And so, the initial part of my poem said something like, “Leave my bones alone. Take the chest and go in peace.” But then when I got well, I ruined the story. So I had to change that and I’ve said before that that poem was really written by an architect. Every word is placed in there strategically, and you can’t ignore any of the nouns in that poem.
COLE: Yeah. That’s what, that’s what makes it fun. It’s like where, what could that mean? Where? You know because when I was reading that, I was like, that doesn’t make sense that that word “where” was where it is. So what does that mean and why is it there?
FENN: But what puzzles people is that I’ve written ten books and in each one of my books I’ve made up words, and I corrupt words. For instance in my Thrill of the Chase book, I talk about courting my wife and I say, “Everybody knew that she was too good for me, but tenacity was never one of my shortcomings.” I mean, it’s a terrible corruption on that word, but my point is, if everybody knows exactly what you’re saying or what you mean, then who cares what the word is? And so that thought permeates, manifests itself in the poem. Well what does that word really mean? Does he mean what it says it means and so that adds, puts a little dessert on top of the cake.
COLE: Exactly. It does, yeah. It makes it, it makes it, uh, more fun. For sure.
FENN: But the poem is straightforward. If you can figure out the clues there… there’s nothing in that poem that would make you think that I’m trying to fool you. I have never discouraged anybody from looking any place, or led them toward it and I never will. There’s no tomfoolery in that poem. It’s straightforward.
COLE: Gotcha. Um, are you impressed with yourself that no one’s found it?
FENN: Am I what?
COLE: Are you impressed with yourself that no one’s found it?
FENN: Everything that I - every time that I do something that works I’m impressed with myself because I never expected that to happen. Nobody ever expected me to be a success at anything. And so, you know, I’m a winner every day. But, to an ant a mud puddle can be an ocean so you have to keep things in context. I feel like I’m pretty good in my league - but my league is not very high.
COLE: Do you think there’s a chance that no one will ever find it?
FENN: Is there a chance? You’re asking me, how long is a piece of string? Is that what? There’s no answer to that you know.
COLE: Or do you believe that people, you know, that someone fill find it - eventually?
FENN: How long is eventually? Yeah, somebody’s gonna find it. I’m confident of that and I’ve said before that the person that finds that thing, puts it on his lap, and lifts the lid, they’re either gonna break out in laughter, or they're gonna faint, or something, but it’s such a sight. It’s an overpowering sight to look at all that gold. I mean, my words are inadequate to describe it. Particularly if you’re not ready for it. I mean, I’m ready for it; I built it. Every time I look at it, I just shake my head.
|9292||5/29/2015||Richard Eeds Show|
|Link: Click Here
RICHARD EEDS: Really happy to have in studio with us now a man who’s a legend in Santa Fe. Never met him until he did come in today. I had my doubts whether he’d show up or not. I think he likes to mess with people a little bit. Forrest Fenn. Good morning. Can you hear me okay? Sounds good?
FENN: I can hear you just fine. And I can say that I’m your biggest fan. You know, 101.5 on your FM radio dial. We listened to you on the way over here today.
EEDS: Really. So now you’re the biggest fan? You say we. You brought your granddaughter Mika?
FENN: Yeah, granddaughter Mika. She’s just out of college. She’s trying to find out what she’s going to do.
EEDS: Texas Tech International Business graduate.
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Red Raider. Alright, Forrest Fenn. Best known probably for, I don’t know how long this has been going on. Five years maybe? The treasure hunt.
FENN: Going on about five years.
EEDS: Five years. And so now you’re internationally famous, but you’ve been a well-known business man, collector, you’ve been into all kinds of different things. You’ve been around Santa Fe for a long, long time.
FENN: Well, I moved to Santa Fe in 1972. Yeah, that’s a long time.
EEDS: It is a long time. Especially, uh, I mean, there’s been people here for four or five hundred years but, a lot of other people have just moved here in the past 10 or 15 years. What did you do? When you moved here in ‘72, what was the reason?
FENN: Well I was a fighter pilot in Vietnam and I had a hard tour. I was shot down twice. I took battle damage. I lost some roommates. I lost 22 pounds and didn’t even know it. I came home mentally tired, and physically tired. Santa Fe was the only place I knew where the world would stop and let me out. That was my image of Santa Fe at that time. I knew I wasn’t going to wear a watch or a coat and tie. So, Santa Fe was the place for me.
EEDS: How much injuries sustained in the crashes? In the plane crashes when you were shot down? Did you sustain physical injuries?
FENN: I was damaged a little bit when the helicopter pulled me up through the trees out of the jungle in Laos. Hurt my head some, and beat me up a little bit. But the first time I was shot down, I crash landed on a little helicopter strip in South Vietnam. I walked away from it. I’ve always said any landing you can walk away from is a good one. But in that case, any landing you could crawl away from was a good one.
EEDS: What were you flying jets or propellers?
FENN: I was flying an F-100C and D. It was jet. It held the world speed record when I first started flying that airplane.
EEDS: But only land-based. No carrier-based?
FENN: That’s right. I’m too smart for that.
EEDS: Yeah. So that kind of prompted you to move here. Where did you grow up? Where did you spend most of your childhood?
FENN: I was born and raised in Temple, Texas a little town between Waco and Austin.
EEDS: Okay. Probably under floodwaters today. They’re having tough times down there.
FENN: That’s a little bit south of there, but you know, I was a farm kid. We had cows and chickens and things. We had a good life. I was born in 1930. People were still riding horses in those days.
EEDS: True, yeah. Cars were too unreliable on the dirt roads.
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Horses were reliable. Went to town with a wagon.
FENN: That’s right. The livery stable was just a half mile from my house. I was always watching cowboys ride back and forth.
EEDS: Alright, Forrest Fenn is our guest. Forrest, you moved here in the ‘70s, as you said intending to recover, get over the war in Vietnam, and you knew you were going to have whatever kind of life you wanted. A slower life because of Santa Fe. What did you come here intending to do, or did you just come here looking for something?
FENN: Well I came here wanting to deal in luxuries. I didn’t know anything about art. I made terrible grades in high school and I never did go to college so, you know, I started at the bottom. I had a bunch of rules that I’d made for myself over the years. And one of my rules was that I don’t want to do anything where my best customer gives me $100. I want my best customer to give me a lot more than that and I didn’t know how to do that. I found my niche though in Santa Fe eventually. I built a gallery over on 1075 Paseo de Peralta just two blocks east of the capitol building and we started slow. My wife and I slept on the floor while we plastered the walls. It took a while. I had two, what I call major, shows and didn’t sell anything. Didn’t even sell a book. And I told myself I may have to go flip burgers or something. But I had a little money left, I said I’m going to spend this money advertising and if that doesn’t work, I’m going to slam the door and walk away. But it started working. Things started happening. I started playing Monopoly. Buying
EEDS: So you sold one painting, re-invest it. Grow
FENN: I sell one painting, take the money and buy a better painting. Sell that one, and then buy a better one.
EEDS: Mika, are you listening?
MIKA: I listen every day.
EEDS: Yeah. Sounds like a good business plan in general. Don’t... But for you, you don’t want to take anything less than $10,000 from your first customer right? But it’s a good plan. And it worked out right?
FENN: It worked out eventually. There are businesses where you
EEDS: What were you trying to show in the gallery anyway? Were you trying to show native art? Western art?
FENN: I wanted to sell old art because I didn’t want to argue with artists. I wanted to deal with dead ones. That was a wise move on my part.
EEDS: No negotiation necessary.
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Except with the buyer. And eventually, how big did the gallery become?
FENN: How big did the gallery become… Well I…
EEDS: Artists come to you? Or art came to you?
FENN: Art came to me. Yeah. The secret to having a successful art gallery is having something that everybody wants to buy from you. Anybody can sell a great painting, but not everybody can find a great painting to sell. So my job was to find great art to sell.
EEDS: But you were not great at school. How did you learn what was great art?
FENN: Well eventually the price had something to do with it.
EEDS: Yeah, ok. If it was expensive, it was good art.
FENN: But I was looking for names too and I… All that work started working for me after a while. One of the measurements, the way I measure my success was I never had to borrow money to make payroll. That was one of my rules. I don’t want to do that. And after two or three years, we were living off of accounts receivable, and, so I told myself, as long as I can do that. I never did want to borrow money because I figured the only way I could lose my business is if I owed money.
EEDS: If the bank took it from you.
EEDS: Sounds like a very interesting beginning. It was hard there for a while, right? Before you got the ball rolling?
FENN: I started at the bottom and you know, I’d go around to different galleries in town. Actually I was one of the first art galleries in town 1972 there was Market Jameson gallery and that was just about it. But I’d go around to some of the shops and see what they were doing. What could I learn? I remember I went into the Kachina Gallery up on Canyon Road. They sold kachina dolls and there were just 10 million kachina dolls they were everywhere. They had little signs there on the wall and it said, “If you touch it you bought it.” You were responsible for your kid. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I feared for my life. So I learned from that. I went back to my gallery and I made a number of little signs that said, “Please touch, we are responsible.” So that’s how I learned the business. I never had a customer break anything. I had employees break some things. But how are you gonna buy a great piece of art if you’re not allowed to touch it? I don’t understand some of these… I think I had an advantage over some people because I never learned the rules of what made businesses fail.
EEDS: And you didn’t learn the bad habits, the bad rules of the galleries or the artists around town. You figured it out with what you believed in. Your own business philosophy.
FENN: That’s right. And another rule I had was that I’ll take your check for any amount of money. This guy bought an expensive painting from me. I think it was $275,000. He said, “How can I pay you for this?” I said, “I’ll take your check.” He said, “You’ll take my check?” I said, “Sure I’ll take your check.” So he pulled out his ID card to show me. I told him I don’t want to see that. I said, “I can look in your face.” And I was never sorry. I had two bad checks. One of them was for $25 for a book and I forgot what the other one was.
EEDS: Right. The $275,000 cashed. It cleared the bank?
FENN: It cleared the bank. And I owed most of it and I was hoping it would clear the bank.
EEDS: Our guest is Forrest Fenn. We’ll continue our conversation and get into how he started collecting and what he started collecting and we’ll talk about the treasure hunt. Is it real, or is it just, I don’t know, a metaphor? Seventeen minutes after ten o’clock this is KVSF 101.5 the Voice of Santa Fe. We stream worldwide from santafe.com. Podcasts are available by about noon, one o’clock. Whenever Gino gets around to it. Also santafe.com/richardeeds. We’ve made it a lot easier. Also, pictures of Forrest and little videos of Forrest also on our Facebook page or KVSF 101.5. Be back right after this. Seventeen minutes after ten o’clock.
EEDS: Twenty minutes after ten o’clock it is Friday - means blues. We play the blues on Friday. Beautiful day in Santa Fe so far. Wind is picking up, and clouds are moving in a little bit, but it’s going to be about 80 today. Already in the mid-60’s. Should be a nice weekend as well. Guests in the studio is Forrest Fenn and his granddaughter Mika and we just learned that Forrest is looking for stuff. He not only likes stuff, but he’s looking for stuff. If anybody knows where he can buy a 1935 Plymouth. Now is it the two door or four door?
FENN: Well the one I had was a two-door. Very interestingly, the difference between a deluxe 1935 Plymouth and the second rate car is on the deluxe it has windshield wipers on both sides and it has a sun visor not just on the driver’s side but on both sides.
EEDS: Made it deluxe.
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Had two of each. But you would like to buy one if you can find the right one. Is this because this was the first car you had and when you went into the Air Force you came back and it was gone?
FENN: In 1946 I was 16 years old. I moved to Atlanta to spend the summer with a friend and I saved $250 to buy a car and that’s what I gave for that 1935 Plymouth. I didn’t have a driver license but I, and I was so short I really couldn’t see over the dashboard. But I piled a book and a couple of pillows, and I drove my car from Atlanta, Georgia to Temple, TX at night.
EEDS: Without a driver license?
FENN: Because I didn't want the police to see that I was too young to be driving. So I slept during the day and drove all night.
EEDS: Have all your kids and grandkids known these stories? You’re not a very good example for a lot of them.
FENN: Well, if I don’t know a good story, I’ll just make up one. So they know all of them.
EEDS: You’re still looking for it. If somebody out there knows where there’s a two door or deluxe ‘35 Plymouth?
FENN: No, no. mine was not Deluxe.
EEDS: Alright. But you’d take either? You would take either if anybody has one?
FENN: Oh sure.
EEDS: But you want something that’s decent right?
FENN: I want to be able to drive it. It’ll be a culture shock for downtown Santa Fe if I drive around in that ‘35 Plymouth.
EEDS: That’d be great. So people could find you on the website?
FENN: oldsantafetradingco.com is my website.
EEDS: So they can find an email if they have a Plymouth.
EEDS: Yeah, get in touch with you. Send you some pictures maybe.
FENN: That’s right. I’d love that.
EEDS: That’d be cool. Alright, so what do you collect now? Pictures show that your house is pretty much floor to ceiling, wall to wall stuff. Started collecting when you were, eight?
FENN: I was nine years old when I found my first arrowhead and that’s what started me. My philosophy is, that if I don’t have that object, then I can’t have all of them.
FENN: So, and I’ll always paid too much. I never bought anything for a fair price, but my philosophy was, if I give you too much for something, you spend the money and don’t have anything but I have the object. So I always had an advantage when I was buying something.
EEDS: What’s the most you ever spent on something you still have?
FENN: Couple hundred thousand dollars on a painting.
EEDS: You still have it? What is it of?
FENN: It’s a Nicolai Fechin painting of a little girl painted in Taos. But I own Sitting Bull’s pipe and you know, it’s worth a bunch of money. And people laugh at me when I say Sitting Bull owned this pipe. But we took pictures of it, and we blew it up and we matched grain in the wood of Sitting Bull holding the pipe with grain in the wood of the photograph we took, so there’s no question that Sitting Bull was holding that pipe. And that’s one of my prized possessions.
EEDS: Along with the arrowhead.
FENN: It had a lot of history, sure.
EEDS: You still have the arrowhead.
FENN: Still have the arrowhead.
EEDS: And what kind of Indians lived in Temple, Texas? What was the tribe?
FENN: Well, we were on the southern edge of the Kiowa, Comanche, Southern Cheyenne, Osage. Mostly Comanche. I remember my grandmother telling me when she was a kid in Fort Worth, Texas, the Comanches running through her barnyard trying to catch chickens and her father said leave those guys alone.
EEDS: Yeah, let them have the chickens.
FENN: Yeah. Let them have the chicken, yeah.
EEDS: Interesting. I was born, I wasn’t raised there, but I was born in a little town called Beeville if you know where that is.
FENN: Oh sure, that’s south Texas.
EEDS: Between San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Pretty flat down there. We still have a ranch down there that just went on the market. Cousins decided it’s been sitting long enough, but they sent pictures. They have pictures posted on the internet. It’s exactly the same from when I was a little kid. So over all these years, Forrest, since you were nine years old, now you’re seventy-five-
FENN: I’m eighty-four.
EEDS: Eighty-four years old, I was trying to be nice. It looks like mostly historic memorabilia is what you like? American historical?
FENN: Well, not necessarily American. I have some Egyptian things. Ancient Egyptian. And, you know, Roman and Greek. If it’s old and good I like it.
FENN: Especially if it has some history.
EEDS: What about, what about, if there is anything, if there is a treasure chest, if there’s anything in it, if there are coins, gold, and jewels in it, if there is one, when did you start amassing those? How old were you?
FENN: Now why would you say if there is one?
EEDS: I don’t know. There are some people that think that you are trying to enlighten people to the fact that there are other kinds of treasures in life other than gold and jewels.
FENN: Well, you said if there is one. I was afraid that people would say I wrote my memoir as a gimmick to sell the book, the treasure chest is a gimmick to sell the book. So, I don’t know whether you know this or not, but I gave the all the books to the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe. I didn’t even get my publishing costs back. Just so guys like you couldn’t say “if there is a treasure chest.”
EEDS: So you’re stating emphatically, right now, there is a treasure chest.
FENN: There’s a treasure chest and it’s out there and you’re the kind of guy that can go out there and find it.
EEDS: I probably could. Alright, I’m going to try and get a clue out of you. So how big has it gotten? How big has the entire phenomenon gotten?… There have been… I know there have been hotels in Laredo… I think that when one of the clues came out, they ran a treasure hunters special and filled the hotel. I mean, you’re doing a lot for business in Santa Fe.
FENN: Well that’s right. The mayor presented me with a beautiful little thing yesterday at the bookstore thanking me for… Santa Fe - the occupancy rate in the hotels was up 10% last summer. Nobody knows why. But I think the treasure searchers came, 30,000 of them came to Santa Fe last summer.
EEDS: thirty thousand.
FENN: Yellowstone park had more visitors last summer than any other year in their history.
EEDS: Why Yellowstone?
FENN: Because that’s where I grew up and a lot of people think that the treasure is buried - is hidden someplace there. I’ve said that -
EEDS: Yellowstone National Park?
EEDS: Jellystone. Yogi Bear.
FENN: I’ve said it’s in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, and Yellowstone is -
EEDS: That’s true.
FENN: Fits that description, sure. The treasure is out there, I guarantee it.
EEDS: You’ve also said it’s under 14,000 feet.
FENN: No, I said it’s below 12,200 feet and above 5,000 feet.
EEDS: Okay. But everywhere is about 5,000 feet.
FENN: That’s a lot of places in the Rocky Mountains.
EEDS: You’re not helping people - that’s a lot of places.
FENN: Well, this lady called me on the phone and she said, Mr. Fenn I’ve studied your poem and I’ve looked at your clues. I need some, I just, I cannot figure it out. You’ve got to help me. I need something else. I said, Lady, I’ll give you a clue. The treasure is more than 300 miles west of Toledo. And she said, well thank you Mr. Fenn, I really appreciate it. And she hung up the phone just happy as a bumblebee.
EEDS: Now the people are convinced, people have done this, ruthlessly gone through your clues and sense they know the spot. I was reading this story. One man said, “I’ll send you an email. You just wait, I’ll send pictures. I’ll have it by, what, this weekend” or something. You never heard back?
FENN: I get 50 emails a day that say that.
FENN: Sure. They know exactly where it is. There are five people that have said the whole story is a hoax. But all five of them were avid searchers. And they knew where the treasure was, but when they went to where it should be, and it wasn’t there one of two things happened. Either somebody’s already found it and left with it, or the whole story is a hoax. But interestingly, all five of those people are still out searching.
EEDS: Of course. Can you stick around a little while longer?
EEDS: Alright. Thirty minutes after ten o’clock. Our guest is Forrest Fenn. I’m glad he came in. I had my doubts. Forrest is a bit of a prankster. We’ll find out from Mika. We’ll find out the truth here in a second. Twenty-nine minutes after ten o’clock. We’ll be right back. It is Friday, thank God it’s Friday. We stream live at santafe dot com, KVSF 101.5 The Voice of Santa Fe
EEDS: Thirty-three minutes past ten o’clock. Our guest is Forrest Fenn. Treasure collector. Treasure hider. Book writer. Author. Has a new book coming out, we’ll get to that in a minute. Alright, so, do you want to tell us, Forrest, the treasure definitely exists. And doubters like me can just, you know, whatever. And, you know I don’t want to say it on the radio. But, can you tell us what might be in it?
FENN: What’s in the treasure chest?
EEDS: What’s in the treasure chest.
FENN: I can tell you exactly what’s in it. There are 265 gold coins.
EEDS: From what period?
FENN: American Eagles and Double Eagles, and there’s some Middle Eastern gold coins that date to the 14th century. There are hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets. Two gold nuggets are larger than a hen’s egg. They weigh 1.2 Troy pounds each, but hundreds of other gold nuggets. Two beautiful little ancient Chinese jade carvings, and pre-Columbian gold figures and necklaces and hundreds of
EEDS: Precious gems?
FENN: Hundreds of rubies. There are eight - two Ceylon sapphires, there’s about eight nice emeralds, and lots of diamonds. It’s a… If you find the treasure chest and put it on your lap and raise the lid, it’ll be a culture shock for you, Mr. Eeds.
EEDS: Alright, I’m gonna start to believe here. What is the chest itself?
FENN: The chest is a beautiful cast bronze thing. Ten inches by ten inches and five inches high, and it’s absolutely full of gold.
EEDS: Is it old? The chest itself?
FENN: We think it’s 12th century, sure. Romanesque. I don’t know what to say. If you find it, you’ll either start laughing, or you’ll faint. One of the two.
EEDS: I’d pass out.
FENN: I gave $25,000 for the chest.
EEDS: How long had you had it?
FENN: Well, I started collecting things in 1982 when I had cancer and I thought I was going to die. That’s when I got this idea to hide this treasure chest. Why not let everybody else have as much fun as I’ve had over the many years. And that was my motivation.
EEDS: So you bought the chest right around that period?
EEDS: Okay. Um, how much does it weigh?
FENN: The gold in the treasure chest weighs 20.2 Troy pounds. And the chest weighs forty, uh, twenty-two pounds. So the whole thing, I think, is around 42 pounds. It was heavy enough that I made two trips to hide it. I took the gold in one time, and then I took the treasure chest in the second time.
EEDS: What kind of shoes? What kind of footprints did you leave? What kind of boots did you have on?
FENN: Well if I told you that, you’d go out and find it.
EEDS: Is there, Forrest, is there any chance that somebody has found it?
FENN: I’m 99.99% sure that no one has found the treasure chest yet. You can never be 100% sure, but sure, it’s still out there. I would bet my kingdom that it’s still out there.
EEDS: And you have a substantial kingdom? When, how do you decide when to add clues? And you’ve done them how and so on?
FENN: Well, there are nine clues in my poem and one is in my book. And I’m not going to give any more clues. I’m… There are hints in my book that will help you with the clues, but.. A clue will point you toward the treasure chest, and a hint will just help you with the clues, if you can understand that.
EEDS: No, that makes sense.
FENN: But I don’t give any more clues. I’ve given, I’ve said some things that people think are clues
EEDS: Two hundred miles west of Toledo.
FENN: And it’s not buried in an outhouse. I’ve given that as a clue.
EEDS: That’s good.
FENN: Yeah, some people were very happy to get that answer.
EEDS: Yeah. You said the, kinda the motivation was, you got sick. Did you think this was it? You were going to be checking out?
FENN: Well, my doctor gave me a 20% chance of living three years. I mean look at the odds. One in five is not very good. But I told myself, that has to sink, it takes a couple of weeks for that to soak in. But then I told myself if I’m going who says I can’t take it with me? Sure I can take it with me, and that’s when I got the treasure chest. That’s when I started filling it up with wonderful things, you know if I’m going to go, I’m just going to take it with me and to heck with what everybody else thinks. The trouble is, I got well and ruined the story.
EEDS: Yeah. You ruined the whole thing. Um, but, that was kind of the motivation, uh, for wanting to do that, and then how long ago… The latest book that you’ve published is three years old? Two years old? Three years old.
FENN: Something like that, yes. It’s called Too Far to Walk.
FENN: It’s kind of a continuation of my Thrill of the Chase book.
EEDS: What was the thrill of the chase?
FENN: Why would you ask me what is the thrill of the chase? You know that more than anybody in the world.
EEDS: I’m just sitting here. I’m hoping people are listening in their cars at work or at home. They want to hear it from you.
FENN: Well, if you haven’t been consumed by something in your life, I think you deserve another term, and the thrill of the chase personifies that to me.
EEDS: Keep living. Always be chasing.
FENN: Sure. Everybody needs to collect something. I might be the world’s greatest collector. I collected bottle tops. I collected string.
EEDS: Tin foil?
FENN: You know, I could have done that, but I don’t think I ever collected tin foil. That’s something that could have been on my agenda if I’d thought about it.
EEDS: One of the things that seems to surprise you when you have talked to the press, or done little videos about this entire treasure chest and about your life, and it’s been a you know, a life worthy of books and lots being written about it, you seemed a little bit surprised at the people that have invaded your privacy. Were you not expecting that? I mean, here’s a man, a Santa Fe New Mexican who lives out, you know, you live out in the open. You're not behind a giant wall or a compound, you live out in the open. You’re just a man who goes around and does his own business. Were you a little bit surprised that people would be so brash?
FENN: No, I worked on this project a long time. I really think I thought about most things. Certainly the thought occurred to me that my life could be in danger by somebody kidnapping me. I’ve called 911 three times in my home. This one guy started wrestling with police officers and they handcuffed him and took him off to jail. But that’s a very small group of people, and the great preponderance of people looking for the treasure are good Americans. They’ll say Mr. Fenn, we know we’re not going to find the treasure but I just want to thank you for getting me and the kids off the couch and away from the game room and out to smell the sunshine. That’s important to me. This lady from, a writer from Austin called me on the phone, she said Mr. Fenn I read your book. That’s really a strange book she said. Who’s your audience for a book like that? I said, lady, my audience is every redneck in Texas that lost his job, has 12 kids, and a pickup truck. I said, that’s my audience. That’s who I hope finds my treasure. But, you know, Mr. Eeds, we have a problem in this country with our youth today, and I think none of us are doing enough to solve that problem. The teenagers of today are going to be our congressmen and senators twenty, twenty-five years from now - president of the United States, and I blame the churches and the schools, and I blame you, and I blame me, and I blame Mika, because we’re not doing enough to combat the problem. The greatest asset we have in this country is our youth.
EEDS: You think the problem is lack of activity or are you talking about lack of education? What is the problem, Forrest?
FENN: Well, I think it’s all of those things, but it’s something I feel is incumbent upon all of us to try to solve. In my small way, I’m doing a part. If everybody in this country, all the grown ups in this country, would do a little bit, it would make a big difference.
EEDS: How many people are now actively part of your plan. Your master plan, your effort. You know, if all of this is to improve our country and to improve all of us, the lot of us, how many people do you think are involved now? Buy your books or are looking for your treasure?
FENN: Well, I think, my guess is that 50,000 will come to Santa Fe this summer.
EEDS: This summer?
FENN: And just as many into Colorado and Wyoming and Montana. A lot of people think the treasure chest is in Montana around Hebgen Lake and the Gallatin National Forest that was very important to me when I was a kid. And I’ve said that in my books, and they see that as a hint to where the treasure is.
EEDS: So 50,000 people you think this summer, but you’re not going to release any more clues?
FENN: I’m not going to release any more clues.
EEDS: What will you do to stoke the fires?
FENN: What would I do to what?
EEDS: What will you do to create more buzz, create more activity to keep people interested or get more people into it?
FENN: Well you know, it’s out of my hands now really. When I hid that treasure chest, there was nobody around. And I was walking back to my car and I looked around and I started laughing. And I said out loud, Forrest Fenn did you really do that? And I started laughing. I thought it was the most atrocious thing that I’d ever done. But, in the back of my mind, I told myself that if I’m sorry tomorrow, I can go back and get the treasure chest. But the more I thought about it, I said, no I’m not going to do it. And I told myself it’s out of my hands now. I’m an interested bystander at this point. But I get between 100 and 120 emails every day from people that, most of them know where the treasure chest is. They just want me to confirm it. This one lady says, you know Mr. Fenn, I’m coming out there in my pickup truck but it’s not a very good truck anymore. If my truck breaks, will you pick me up and take me the rest of the way to the treasure?
EEDS: No problem, right?
FENN: No problem.
EEDS: What, of course the value has got to fluctuate as the price of gold goes up and down. Average day, what’s the treasure worth inside the treasure chest?
FENN: You know, I’ve thought of that don’t really know. A lot of the coins have numismatic value, beyond the price of gold and
EEDS: Sure, historic value
FENN: and that fluctuates every day. There are so many little things that I really don’t know what they’re worth. Those two little ancient Chinese jade figures, I think I gave $12,000 each for those things and the Sinu and Tairona necklace that has fetishes made out of quartz crystal and carnelian and semi-precious stones, uh, it’s 2,000 years old and the last thing I put in that bracelet was a little bracelet that has 22 little turquoise disc beads in it that Richard Weatherall found the first time he went into Mesa - the day he discovered Mesa Verde. Climbed down the cliffs, and walked into Mesa Verde and picked up these 22 little beads.
EEDS: Was he one of the guys that was on the cattle drive that found… You say discovered, discovered for White Men, was he one of the guys on the cattle drive who discovered by accident?
FENN: Well, Richard Weatherall discovered Mesa Verde. If my story is correct, he was sitting up on the bluff there in the trees, took a nap, and when he woke up, the sun, the shadows had changed and he looked across there was Mesa Verde. He was flabbergasted because he had never seen it before. He worked around that part of the country.
EEDS: One of my favorite places.
FENN: Well I won that little bracelet in a pool game with Byron Harvey, who was one of the heirs of Fred Harvey. And it has a good story, and it fit me perfectly, and I wanted something dear to me to be in that treas - I wanted part of me to be in that treasure chest. When I closed the lid for the last time, I told myself that some of me is in that treasure chest.
EEDS: Can you turn on Mika’s microphone? Mika what have you seen, you’re nodding. Have you seen - do you remember seeing some of the stuff that’s in the treasure chest?
MIKA: I remember when he was putting… I was quite young at the time, but I remember when he was putting it together. I remember the bracelet, and I have lots of friends that have gone out looking for it. I’ve always told them that if you find it, the only thing I want is that turquoise bracelet. You can keep the gold, and you can keep the jade.
EEDS: The bracelet we’re talking about from Mesa Verde.
MIKA: Yes. But I’d love to have that bracelet because of the sentimentality behind it for my grandfather.
EEDS: Right. Anything else in there? The jade figures - anything else in there you remember?
MIKA: Uh, there’s a bracelet that I remember vividly because it’s so unique. It’s a dragon bracelet right grandpa?
MIKA: It’s made out of gold and it has its eyes are rubies I believe and it’s wrapped in diamonds. It’s just this extraordinary piece of jewelry that I remember quite vividly because it is so amazing.
EEDS: So if you weren’t here, I would still think he’s putting me on but -
MIKA: He’s not. I give you my personal word that he is entirely honest. He likes to embellish, but he’s an honest man.
EEDS: I love the idea that you won that in a pool tournament with Fred Harvey’s… FENN: Grandnephew. It was in a pool game in his house in Scottsdale.
EEDS: Have you been by to see the Harvey Girls exhibit at the History Museum? About the entire… You know, what an ag… what a monumental marketing discovery the size of southwest. People don’t know this story - Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls. It was huge.
FENN: I have not seen that exhibit but I plan to. I knew one of the famous Harvey Girls. She lived up on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. She had called me on the phone and said, Forrest come on up here let’s celebrate with some libations. That was the word she liked to use. I’d go up there. She’d drink vodka and I’d drink coffee… I’m sticking to that story.
EEDS: Yeah. I bet you are. Can we talk about your book? We’ll take another time out here. Another quick break. Come back, talk about the new book - a Russian…
FENN: Leon Gaspard
EEDS: Announcement going to come out very, very soon and you say you’ve got some kind of ground-breaking publishing technology that you’re going to use.
FENN: That’s right. Everybody better sit down when I start talking about it.
EEDS: This is cool. Forrest Fenn is not only a collector and treasure hider, but he’s also cutting edge publisher. Who knew? Forty-seven minutes after ten. We’ll be right back. KVSF 101.5 the Voice of Santa Fe.
EEDS: Fifty-one minutes after ten o’clock. Our guest in the studio is Forrest Fenn and his granddaughter Mika. So, Forrest, uh, new book coming out. You said within the next 30 days the topic is:
FENN: Well we hope to print within the next 30 days.
EEDS: What’s it about?
FENN: It’s a biography of Leon Gaspard - the great Russian-American painter. He was born in 1862 and died in 1964. One of the famous uhh
EEDS: Wow! 102 years old!
FENN: Did I say that?
EEDS: 1862 to 1964
FENN: Well, you know, I may have stretched that a little bit one way or the other.
EEDS: Alright, so it’s fiction?
FENN: He was a painter. He joined the French Army in World War 1. He was a pil - he was sitting in an airplane and he was shot down, and he jumped out of the airplane and he went into a mud puddle and it’s a wonderful story. Took him a long time to recover. But when he got married, he married an American woman, and his uncle gave him three horses. So Leon Gaspard got on his horse with his wife Evelyn, and for two years, they rode across Mongolia and Afghanistan and those countries on their honeymoon. That’ll clean out your sinuses a little bit. That’s the kind of person he was. In my book, we think we are breaking new ground and, you can tell me if I’m wrong, but on two places in my book there’s a link that you type the link into Google and you get a video of Leon Gaspard riding on his horse in Taos. We’re talking about 1920. Another link you can click on, you hear Leon Gaspard’s actual voice telling a story. We have nine paintings illustrated in the book that are 20 inches wide. When’s the last time you saw a 20’ inch wide spread in a book?
MIKA: I don’t think I ever have. Until 30 days from now
EEDS: Alright, so Leon became, he lived in Taos. Was he part, I mean, was he well-known, established painter, part of the Taos arts scene?
FENN: Well, he didn’t belong to the Taos society of artists, but he and Nicolai Fechin are both Russian-American. They were arguably among the two best artists that ever lived in Taos. But, yeah, they spoke Russian together. They played chess. Leon Gaspard made really great borscht and invited Russian friends over for dinner. There was high society in those days in the teens and 1920s.
EEDS: Okay, but this was, you didn’t know either of them?
FENN: No. I didn’t come on the scene then.
EEDS: Until ‘72?
FENN: But I wrote a book about Nicolai Fechin and he was born within a year of Leon Gaspard, and they were very close friends. Gaspard paintings that I was selling in my gallery in Santa Fe in 1976 and 1977 for $7,500 are $1.5 million today. I mean the appreciation on those things - and the same thing is true for Niocolai Fechin. If you have any money sticking in a tin can buried in your backyard, you’d better go buy a Nicolai Fechin painting or a Leon Gaspard.
EEDS: Art is still a good investment?
FENN: Art is a great investment.
EEDS: Who are, uh, that school, the famous Taos artists society, who are some of the your famous uh…
FENN: My favorites?
EEDS: Yeah. A painter - if you saw one up on Canyon Road today, you would go man, I gotta figure out how to go get that.
FENN: Well, Victor Higgins of course is one of my favorites, but Gaspard, and Fechin, and Earnest Bloomenschein. I wrote two books about Joseph Henry Sharp, I bought his estate. He was a good painter. He wasn’t one of the best, but he was probably fourth or fifth on that list. It’s extraordinary that so many great painters would move to a little town like Taos. You know, Bloomenschein and Burt Phillips were in Taos for the first time in September 1888.
EEDS: Some kind of accident. The wagon broke down.
FENN: Excuse, 1898. And Burt Phillips stayed. He was the first one to really stay in Taos. They became fixtures up there and they had trouble selling their paintings and Victor Higgins used to meet the bus with paintings. When somebody stepped off the bus, he’d try to sell them a painting. You know, $200 would buy the best thing he had. That painting today is $1,000,000.
EEDS: You talk about how we need to help our children. Children in the United States are under a lot of pressure and probably, like you said, they’re the future. Um, efforts in Santa Fe, really wonderful programs like art week, that try to take the art into schools. You believe in those and the value of them?
FENN: I certainly do. The more we
EEDS: Have you done it with your children, grandchildren?
FENN: Sure, let’s get our kids involved in something. We’re sitting on the couch too much. We’re playing with our little hand machines too much.
EEDS: Video games.
FENN: Mika’s guilty of that, aren’t you Mika?
MIKA: I am, unfortunately. I put it away when I come to your house though.
FENN: Well if you get out in the sunshine it serves a lot of things. First of all, you can lose some weight if you need to do that, you can observe nature, you can… the smells are good and the hikes are good and we need to get out of the house more.
EEDS: Alright this new book, you hope to come out in 30 days, how will it come out? Will it come out online, will it be in print, will it be in bookstores? Collected Works? What are you going to do?
FENN: All of that.
EEDS: Do you do e-books?
FENN: No, I don’t do e-books. Primarily, my books are picture books, so it’s hard for e-books to come out, but, the Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe handles all my books. They’ll have it and we’ll sell it online and ship it
EEDS: Let us know when it’s done and we’ll put it on Santa Fe dot com and however we can help spread the word.
FENN: Do you have any money? Can you afford to buy one?
EEDS: I don’t have thirty cents on me. Dina’s got money though. Dina’s got all the money in this studio.
EEDS: Hey I really - it’s been a blast. I hope that, you know, you didn’t mind that hour went really fast. You’re a pleasure to talk to.
FENN: Well, thank you, sir. That’s nice Mr. Eeds, I appreciate that.
EEDS: Have a great weekend, and um, come back any time you want. Bring him back Mika, will you?
MIKA: I’ll do my best.
EEDS: When the book comes out
MIKA: I’m the driver, so I’ll get him here.
EEDS: Yeah, I bet. And you’re still looking for anybody that has a 1935 Plymouth
FENN: Two door Plymouth, sure.
EEDS: Doesn’t have to be the deluxe. Just has to be the standard.
FENN: It has to be drivable.
EEDS: Has to be - has to run.
FENN: I have to show it off around Santa Fe.
EEDS: You know, it doesn’t have to run right now, but a little battery, a little air in the tires, you know, fixable. Email Forrest. Go to his website. Which is, once again old santa fe...
FENN: trading co
EEDS: trading co dot com. Right. They can find you through that. If you can find a ‘35 Plymouth, send him some good pictures, and make a good deal, right?
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Like you said, you never haggled for anything, you always overpaid.
FENN: If somebody can find me a 1935 Plymouth, I’ll buy them a hot dog. They can have mustard, relish, whatever they want.
EEDS: Thanks for coming by, Forrest. Mika, thanks for driving.
MIKA: Thank you.
EEDS: Alright, have a great weekend. Coming up next Julie Goldberg show. It is coming up on eleven o’clock. We’ll see you Monday morning, bright and early seven o’clock. By the way, great show on Monday. We’ll have the owner of the Violet Crown theater, also Al Dusare, you know Al? The guy who used to own Maria’s?
EEDS: He’ll be here.
FENN: I know Al.
EEDS: He’s a pain in the butt, that guy. As well as Ray Sandoval. Will make a big announcement on Monday as well. Be back Monday. Have a great weekend everybody. KVSF 101.5 the Voice of Santa Fe.
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JULIUS BRIGHTON: Treasure can come to obsessors. The thrill of the hunt becomes all consuming. And there’s no better place to experience that than here. I’m in America where a man named Forrest Fenn has deliberately hidden a multi-million dollar treasure chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The treasure is meant to be worth anywhere between a million to three million dollars, and contains diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. But if I were to find it, I would have to decipher nine clues that are hidden within a poem. I’ll be searching in an area that is home to some pretty feisty wildlife, so I need to be prepared.
WOMAN: You’ll want to have a backpack, bear spray -
BRIGHTON: See that - ok, let’s just pause with the bear spray. You have a sign outside that says bear spray. I mean, what is - insect spray, mosquito spray, I’m familiar with, but… bear spray?
WOMAN: I’ve got it right over here if you’d like to look at it. This is the most common size, and as you can see, it works on all bear species.
BRIGHTON: This is my most favorite thing - works on all bear species.
WOMAN: Works on all bears - black, grizz, which is what we have here in Yellowstone
BRIGHTON: I’ve got sun, mosquito, and bear.
BRIGHTON: We’ve got it all. To improve my chances of finding Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure, I’m teaming up with Dal Neitzel. He’s crossed America 40 times in the past three years to hunt for it. So how long did it take you to get here today?
DAL NEITZEL: I’m about nine hundred miles from here, so it takes me a day and a half to drive.
BRIGHTON: That’s more than just a passing interest. How much time are you spending on this?
NEITZEL: Every bloody minute that I’m not working.
BRIGHTON: Is it the adventure? Is it the puzzle solving? Is it the sense of anticipation? Expectation?
NEITZEL: Who doesn’t like a good treasure story? I mean, this is wonderful stuff, and to get involved in it itself…
BRIGHTON: There is no treasure map for this secret stash. Instead, the clues are hidden in a poem written by Forrest Fenn. Begin where warm waters halt and take it in the canyon down. Not far, but too far to walk. So what is it about this area to you that’s ticking this box - begin it where warm waters halt?
NEITZEL: Forrest spent all of his childhood in Yellow - some of it in Yellowstone National Park. He was brought up here. His favorite bathing place was on the Firehole River. A river that runs so warm, because of the hot springs and geysers that are around it.
BRIGHTON: So we should start at the beginning. Let’s go.
NEITZEL: Let’s go.
BRIGHTON: Each clue is a riddle that must be solved to work out where to go next.
NEITZEL: I think right here, we’re at no place for the meek. Because this is grizzly bear territory.
BRIGHTON: I’ve got my spray, so we’ll be okay.
NEITZEL: There’s a 40 percent chance of stopping a grizzly bear with spray. I’ve got a sixty percent chance over here (gestures toward holster).
BRIGHTON: Okay. You win. I like those odds. There is only one man who knows for sure where the treasure is, and that’s the man who hid it, Forrest Fenn.
FORREST FENN: I was nine years old when I found this with my father in Texas. It started me on a long venture of discovery. It’s my very first arrowhead. It had been laying on the ground for 600 years waiting for me to come along and pick it up. The thrill of seeing it, wondering about its history - the thrill of the chase!
BRIGHTON: As Forrest’s obsession with treasure grew, he became a collector. In 2010, having been told he had cancer, he decided to hide a treasure chest.
FENN: Well you’re looking for a beautiful little cast bronze box, ten inches by ten inches by five inches deep. It weighs 42 pounds. And it’s full of 265 big gold coins, hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets and emeralds and rubies and diamonds and sapphires. When you open that chest and look at it, you just - your heart’s going to stop. It’s going to be so beautiful.
BRIGHTON: Four years on, and there are now thousands of people hunting for it. So far, no one’s been able to solve the clues and find the chest. But I’m hoping today, Dal can help me do it.
NEITZEL: We’re looking for the blaze right now.
BRIGHTON: If you’ve been wise and found the blaze… What does he mean by blaze? Blazing a trail?
NEITZEL: Blazing a trail.
BRIGHTON: We’re on a trail, this is a trail. Conjures up images of fire? Something burnt perhaps?
NEITZEL: They call horses that have white spots on their forehead, they call them blazes. They name them blaze. So I think a white spot, a white mark, like a waterfall for instance.
BRIGHTON: Blaze, blaze, blaze, blaze. After wrestling with the clues for several hours, it suddenly feels like we’re onto something. Could this be a blaze?
NEITZEL: I don’t see why not. That works for me.
BRIGHTON: The end is ever drawing nigh. There’ll be no paddle up your creek. Well, here we are. Here’s a creek. Certainly couldn’t paddle up it.
NEITZEL: No, I couldn’t.
BRIGHTON: Be careful.
NEITZEL: Julius! Hey, look at this man!
NEITZEL: This is good. There’s caves in here. I think we need to look in there.
BRIGHTON: (inaudible)... There’s a whole bunch of stones.
NEITZEL: What about in here, look at how deep this one is.
BRIGHTON: I can’t see it behind the water. There is a big opening in there.
NEITZEL: Have to get this one out.
BRIGHTON: There you go. Try the (inaudible). Let me pull it out. I’ve got it! Can you reach down and see if you can put your hand in there? See if you can feel anything?
NEITZEL: I can feel to the back. Empty. It’s not here.
BRIGHTON: This is the problem. You’re right. Every time you don’t find it, you’ve got to keep looking.
NEITZEL: You’ve gotta go a little further.
FENN: There have been a few people within 500 hundred feet. I think there have been people within a couple hundred feet. They figure the first two clues, but they don’t get the third and the fourth and they go right past the treasure chest.
NEITZEL: But you don’t know. That’s the whole thing, you know? You make the trek. You get to the spot and you say, “Okay, it’s not here. Where else could it be?” This is my 40th time. I know 40 places where it isn’t.
|9551||9/14/2015||Richard Eeds Radio Show - 2nd Appearance|
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RICHARD EEDS: Alright seven minutes after ten o’clock here on this gorgeous Monday. Partly cloudy skies now all the way up to 73 degrees. 20 percent chance of rain later today. High today of about 85 degrees. We stream live worldwide at Santa Fe dot com, podcast from Santa Fe dot com if you want to go back and listen to the interview we’re about to do with Forrest Fenn or Forrest’s previous time he was here - any interview. Santa Fe dot com slash Richard Eeds. Forrest Fenn, Santa Fe author, legend, former gallery owner, expert on artists and a man who went out and buried a treasure chest, and making faces at me right now. Very immature for his age. He’s in studio with us along with Dal Neitzel. Dal is down from the state of Washington. He runs a website about the treasure hunt. So it should be an interesting conversation talking about where the treasure is, we’ll talk about if they want to reveal some new clues today, and all the people around the world that especially Dal hears from on the website who are looking for the treasure. Mr. Fenn, good morning, good to see you.
FORREST FENN: Good morning to you, Richard, it’s always good to be on 101.5. I listen to you all the time.
EEDS: You are such a kind man. You brought me a copy of your book which I can’t believe you did that. I want to talk about this book, Forrest, too because I went down to Collected Works on Saturday because I knew it’d be there because you have this great relationship with Dorothy and the people at Collected Works. And it’s this giant coffee table gorgeous book. I did not know you had it in you.
FENN: Well it was in me. You can get some of your friends to help you with the big words I think you’ll like my book.
EEDS: It’s beautiful though. It’s about Leon Gaspard. The call of distant places along with Carleen Milburn.
FENN: Carleen Milburn from the state of Washington.
EEDS: So you have uh
FENN: Oh excuse me, Montana. She lived just outside of Cascade. She’s a wheat farmer. She and her husband.
EEDS: Alright. Now, as soon as I saw this book, all I remembered the last time you were here, Forrest, we spent quite a while talking about your past. Which is this great past about, you know, why you were in Santa Fe, how you started a gallery, and kind of what your specialty was, and I remembered when I saw this book, about you telling me about your special fondness for these Russian artists.
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: So, I want to talk about this though. Dal, welcome to the show, welcome to Santa Fe.
DAL NEITZEL: Well thank you.
EEDS: Make sure you get right up on the microphone talking loud because Forrest is so loud he’ll drown us out.
NEITZEL: (Laughing) He is.
EEDS: Tell us about where you’re from.
NEITZEL: I live out on Lummi Island, Washington.
EEDS: Puget Sound?
NEITZEL: Yep. It’s pretty close. It’s up in the northern part, just below Canada.
EEDS: Okay. Fires? Forest Fires?
NEITZEL: No. They’re over on the other side of the state, thank goodness for us.
EEDS: Yeah, boy oh boy. Tough summer up in the Northwest.
NEITZEL: We drove through there. It was a big mess.
EEDS: Tough summer you guys have had. Alright what’s the website if people want to look it up here while they’re listening. What is your website that deals with the treasure, uh, the treasure hunt?
NEITZEL: It’s over at Dal Neitzel dot com. D-A-L-N-E-I-T-Z-E-L dot com.
EEDS: Dal Neitzel.
EEDS: No “e” on your name?
EEDS: You lost it?
NEITZEL: I downsized.
EEDS: You downsized? Yeah. Lopped off a vowel? Didn’t have the five bucks to buy a vowel?
NEITZEL: I was trying to sound a little bit like I was from Middle Europe.
EEDS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It sounds very continental. What is the website?
NEITZEL: Well, the website is called The Thrill of the Chase and it’s all about Forrest. It’s a place where folks come into the site and they - it’s a good place for newcomers who are just finding out about the chase and want to find something out about, uh, what are these clues mean? What do people - what does Forrest possibly mean by “begin it where warm waters halt?” What could that possibly mean?
EEDS: So if you’re a beginner, you can go back, learn about all the past history, the clues
EEDS: And all of that. What - and, and, Forrest, the original, uh, book that you wrote, with all of the clues was “The Thrill of The Chase” right?
FENN: The Thrill of the Chase. It’s about a treasure chest that I hid in the Rocky Mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe.
EEDS: Somewhere north of Santa Fe and that’s about as finite and about a close as you get. I mean, there’s lots and lots of clues in the Thrill of the Chase.
FENN: I said “north of Santa Fe” because I didn’t want people digging up my yard.
FENN: But there’s a poem in the book called The Thrill of the Chase and there are nine clues in the poem. If you can figure out the clues, they will take you to where the treasure chest is.
EEDS: Now last time Forrest was here, he came with his daughter Mika. By the way, the fact that - errr his granddaughter Mika.
FENN: Granddaughter Mika
EEDS: Your daughter is here.
FENN: And that’s her mother, that’s Mika’s daughter Zoe Old.
EEDS: And she is married to David Old. And we’ve had him on the show for Old Wood, and she is Shiloh’s mother. Shiloh and Mika are brother and sister.
FENN: It’s like a whole town around this place.
EEDS: I know, it’s amazing. How does she put up with David?
FENN: Well, I have hearing aids that have volume control.
EEDS: That’s how you put up with it. He’s a character.
FENN: I know he is.
EEDS: But I mean, it’s a cool company. Old Wood is really a cool company. I like them both. Had them on several times. Alright, so nine clues in The Thrill Of The Chase will lead people, if they’re really smart, to the treasure. Now, I got this email a couple weeks ago that I forwarded to you from a gentleman by the name of Andy Briggs out of the United Kingdom who is very well known. Is an author, does science fiction, and comic books, and creates all these characters. Well known. He’s not, I don’t think, your average crackpot that comes over to your house knocking on your door in the middle of the night asking you, you know, for a 10th clue. He’s well known and he sent me this email saying he had come up with THE code word that if you overlay it, I guess on all your poems and everything, he said could lead somebody, but he couldn’t come up with that final piece so he wanted to open source it, make it available to everybody. You’re familiar with this guy right?
FENN: Yes I am, and his name should be added to the list of people who presume to know the clues in the poem.
EEDS: So he’s one of many?
FENN: He’s one of many, yes.
EEDS: Right. So I sent you this email -
FENN: But he’s a pretty bright guy. He’s got a lot of it figured out, maybe.
EEDS: Okay. So he’s not completely cuckoo. Did… From what you can tell, has, has he found, well, I’m not going to ask you because you won’t tell me. If there’s some kind of code word that can unravel this whole thing. You won’t tell me.
FENN: Well, there’s so many people out there that know a little bit about it, but not a lot. There are a few getting close.
EEDS: Really? From what you guys can tell. Dal - you get, I mentioned you get 11,000 hits a day. That’s an average right?
EEDS: During the height of the summer, the spring, summer, fall the good treasure hunting season it goes up right?
NEITZEL: Right. There’s, you know, 14,000 or 15,000 when Forrest appears on CBS or something like that, that number will go up to 20,000 or 21,000 hits a day.
EEDS: Hmmm. And then once the snow hits the ground
NEITZEL: Yeah, then we’re back down to about 5,000 or 6,000 hits a day. People are interested all year round, it’s just that this is the busy season to be out looking for it.
EEDS: Right. Now people… People come to, uh, the website in search for more information, or can they post on the website, uh, their thoughts on where it might be, their thoughts or claim that they’ve found it?
NEITZEL: Yeah, sure. We try not to let people claim that they found it, because there’s never been any evidence that anybody has found it. So when someone, and there are people out there that, for whatever reason, want to make themselves big, and want to inflate themselves, they’ll say, “I found it! I found it! I found it!” We don’t let them on the blog. But we do let people talk about what their solutions are. We let people talk about what they think might be a possible, potential solution for the poem.
EEDS: Right. But, to your knowledge, nobody’s found it. Now, Forrest, I don’t know if you’ll answer this question or not truthfully, is there some way for you to know remotely if somebody has uncovered the treasure chest.
FENN: I’ve said that on two or three blogs that if someone finds the treasure that I will announce it on the blogs. On Dal’s blog, and on a couple of other blogs that are prominent -
EEDS: But could somebody find it and you not know?
FENN: Well, I don’t think that’s going to happen, but it’s certainly conceivable that it could happen. Yes.
EEDS: The last time you were here, I questioned, because of some things I’d read, whether there was actually a real treasure chest, or if you were just talking in a metaphorical sense about finding treasure in one’s life, but by what Mika had told me, you know, about seeing all of these specific pieces, I believe her over you.
FENN: You can forget the metaphors. There is a real treasure chest, and it’s full of gold, and precious gems, and it’s out there waiting for someone to figure out the clues and go get the treasure chest. It’s a physical thing that’s out there.
EEDS: I believe you now. I wasn’t so sure when we first met, but I definitely believe you. Alright, coming up on 17 minutes after ten o’clock. We’ll continue our conversation with Forrest Fenn and Dal Neitzel. Talk about the treasure, we’ll also get around to Forrest’s new book, which is a gem. You love art, you love Northern New Mexico, you’ll want to go pick it up. Talk about it as well. 17 minutes past ten. 101.5 The Voice of Santa Fe streaming live worldwide at Santa Fe dot com
EEDS: 21 minutes after ten o’clock here. Partly cloudy Monday, high today of, eventually, about 85. Twenty percent chance of rain later today and a little bit of wind this afternoon. Pretty much like yesterday afternoon. In studio with us now is the Santa Fe legend, Forrest Fenn: author, gallery owner, fighter pilot, treasure burier, polem rider -
FENN: Oh no, I never said I buried the treasure. I said that I hid it.
EEDS: Oooh. Good point! That’s right. Could be in a cave.
FENN: That doesn’t mean it isn’t buried, I just didn’t want to give that as a clue.
EEDS: Right. So we’re talking about and, well, with him here is also Dal Neitzel. Is it “NEAT-zul” or “NITE-zul”?
NEITZEL: It’s “NITE-zul.”
EEDS: I’m sorry. I’m going to fix that. You have a very strange spelling to your name, anyway, Dal Neitzel down from Washington state who runs the website if you want to go… If you want to go look for the treasure, the best thing to do might be to go to Dal’s website because it will get you caught up on where people have looked and maybe eliminate where the treasure might possibly be. D-A-L-N-E-I-T-Z-E-L dot com. That’s the website, it’s a blog. People submit what they’ve deciphered from the nine clues in Forrest’s original book called The Thrill Of The Chase. Forrest, when people who aren’t familiar with you, maybe new to Santa Fe, didn’t hear the last time you were here, you came to Santa Fe when?
FENN: In 1972.
EEDS: You were a fighter pilot? You got shot down a couple of times?
FENN: I got shot down twice in Vietnam. I -
EEDS: Couldn’t fly worth a dang apparently.
FENN: Well, it’s not that
EEDS: They were just good gunners.
FENN: It’s not enough that you’re pretty good, you have to be lucky.
EEDS: You have to be lucky.
FENN: That’s what’s most important.
EEDS: And why did that precipitate, why did that bring you to Santa Fe?
FENN: Well, I had a hard tour in Vietnam. I was shot down twice like I said, and I flew 328 combat missions in 325 days. I lost 28, uh, 22 pounds and didn’t even know it. But I knew a little bit about Santa Fe. I knew that I could get out of the world if I’d come to Santa Fe. I knew I wasn’t going to wear a watch or have a calendar. I knew I was beat up mentally and physically. Santa Fe was where I wanted to get off and relax for a while.
EEDS: Come rest and recuperate.
FENN: Yes. Santa Fe was the place for me.
EEDS: How did you get involved in the gallery and the art business in Santa Fe?
FENN: Well, while I was still in the Air Force in Lubbock, I was teaching pilot training over there, and I started a little art foundry in my garage. I learned how to - I had never seen molten metal, but I ran a gas out of my living room through my kitchen and patched it into my garage and I learned how to melt bronze. I started melting art bronzes and I found out I couldn’t sell these things, but I could trade them for artifacts, for Indian things and that’s how I got started.
EEDS: They had value. Wasn’t necessarily dollars and cents, but they had some value.
FENN: That’s right. Just need to find the right person.
EEDS: Now you came to Santa Fe. You opened the gallery. You slept on the floor. You struggled for a long time.
FENN: Well, my wife and I plastered the walls while I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor, and my two young daughters, they were doing the same thing, helping us build what is now Nedra Matteucci Gallery. It was Fenn Galleries, Limited at that time. We opened in 1972 and I had two shows and didn’t sell anything. I didn’t even sell a book, and I decided, “Boy, I don’t know about this.”
EEDS: Tough going.
FENN: I had no education in art, so I had a little bit of money and I said I’m going to spend this money on advertising and if that doesn’t work, I’m going to slam the door and go work for McDonald’s or Whataburger or someplace.
EEDS: The advertising worked?
FENN: The advertising started to work, yeah. I got lucky. And finally, I decided after about six or eight months - I was always able to make payroll. And that was the key for me. You know, if you have to borrow to make payroll, you know you’re in trouble. After six or eight months, things started working for me and I could make payroll out of accounts receivable and that was very important to me.
EEDS: Now people are familiar with Nedra’s gallery, Nedra Matteucci Gallery, right next to Carole Peters’s on Paseo de Peralta. Big lawn - it’s a huge piece of property, was the building as big as that when -
FENN: It was a home when I acquired it.
EEDS: From how old?
FENN: How old was the home?
FENN: Golly, who knows. It goes back to the 1700’s.
FENN: But it’s a very special place and when I used to go out and plant flowers in my garden, I was always digging up pottery and that sort of thing. It’s a historic place.
EEDS: So you started advertising. You started making a little bit of money. You could make payroll. Artists come to you, or did you still go out and search for good artists you wanted to represent?
FENN: Well I learned pretty fast that I’d rather deal with old art, the old masters, rather than the contemporaries. I figured I didn’t have time to build a market for these people, so you know, I was dealing with Bill Masters, Charlie Russell, and particularly the Taos artists. I’ve written three books about the old Taos painters. That’s what I fell in love with. It was very important to me, and I started acquiring archival material. And it was from that archival material that I’ve been able to write these books.
EEDS: How long did you have that gallery?
FENN: Seventeen years. I started it in 1972 and I sold it in 1988. I’m not very good with geography, how many years is that? (laughter)
EEDS: And after that, how did the Old Santa Fe Trading Company come alive? What’s that all about?
FENN: Well, I wanted a website because I wanted to write a blog. I wanted to participate. I’ve got a nephew named Crayton Fenn who’s a professional deep sea diver, and he had a blog. His wife runs that blog, and I asked her to set up a blog for me, and she did that. If you like deep sea diving, you need to go to his blog - his website. I’m not a natural writer. I strain. I work harder than anybody else to get where I want to go. But it’s been a fun ride. I like writing. I’ve written like 140 stories on Dal’s blog. Stories run from 600-800 words apiece and it’s been a good ride.
EEDS: And the point of all this is you started to make money through the gallery. You became successful, and the part about your nephew, I didn’t know about at all until Dal told me during the break about his connection. So you’re making money. You're successful. You’re growing fairly well off, you know, at some point you get sick. You almost die. You think you’re going to die. Somehow you have this epiphany, or this realization, that maybe you should be giving back as well, and helping other people back as well, so, the fact that not only is your nephew a deep sea diver, but a professional deep sea treasure hunter as well right? He goes around the world looking for treasure. So now you combine the two, right?
FENN: That’s right, and he stays busy. Right now he’s working for the government bringing up lobster nets that are lost by these lobster fisherman. But yeah, I sold my gallery to Nedra in 1988, Nedra Matteucci, and at the time she was one of my best clients. I had a rule: I didn’t want to do anything for 15 years. You don’t have too many 15 years, and there are a lot of good things to do, so after 14 years I started selling my gallery and Nedra bought it, and she’s doing very well in that gallery.
EEDS: Oh yeah. It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Alright, we’ll come back. I want to talk about your brush with death possibly and how that kind of led you to wanting to put together this treasure chest and then go hide it. I made the mistake of saying he buried it. He’s not saying he buried it. He isn’t saying one way or the other. Come back with Forrest Fenn and Dal Neitzel right after this. Thirty minutes after ten o’clock. KVSF 101.5 The Voice of Santa Fe.
EEDS: Overcast skies. High today of about 85. Twenty percent chance of rain today, now they’re saying thirty percent chance of rain tonight and tomorrow. Big clearing up and cooling off later in the week. Thirty-five minutes after ten o’clock. Forrest Fenn is our guest in the studio with us along with Dal Neitzel. Dal runs the website, the blog, of Forrest’s treasure hunt, and it is a really nice website. If you want to take up the pursuit, the looking for, $2 million in treasure, this website is probably the best place to start. It’s D-A-L-N-E-I-T-Z-E-L dot com. Alright Forrest, go back just a little bit. You’re in Santa Fe now. You’re selling some art. You’re doing okay. You’ve got your hand in a lot of different pies around town. Um, and you get sick. Tell us about that part of your life and your feeling that you’re going to die and after that, maybe making some changes.
FENN: Well in 1988 I was diagnosed with what everybody thought was terminal cancer. I lost a kidney and a one hour operation turned into five. My doctor told me I had a 20% chance of living three years. How’s that for an eye-opening prognosis?
EEDS: Eighty percent chance you won’t make it.
FENN: Eight percent chance that I won’t make it.
FENN: And so after that soaked in after a couple of weeks, I decided that if I’ve got to go, I’m just going to take it with me. Who says I can’t take it with me? So I found this beautiful little Byzantine cast bronze treasure chest and I started filling it up with gold coins and hundreds of gold nuggets and precious gems and diamonds and rubies and sapphires. That’s how I got… One thing led to another and when the smoke cleared I had hidden this treasure chest. Giving everybody the opportunity to have the same amount of fun that I’ve had over all these years.
EEDS: If people are wondering about where it is, how much are you willing to say more than it’s in a forest north, I mean what kinda sorta the clues for people that are just listening kind of the general clues of where this treasure chest might be hidden.
FENN: Well, it’s in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. It’s interesting that you mention that because this lady from Minnesota called me on the phone and she said, “Forrest, you have to help me a little bit.” And I said “Okay, I’ll give you another clue.” I said, “The treasure is more than 300 miles west of Toledo.” And she thought for a minute, “Oh, thank you Forrest!” She thought I was really helping her. She was satisfied.
EEDS: She was on the trail then.
FENN: I get a lot of emails every day and some phone calls.
EEDS: Now, last time you were here you related the story of people coming to your house, scaring the heck out of you. You do have security around your house now. You do pay attention because you have grandkids. And everybody - I mean, it’s a lot of money, and a lot of crazies out there. You brought in our mutual friend Mike McGarrity to help you, give you some advice. He’s a writer and he’s a former police officer. Anybody visit you that wasn’t welcome this summer?
FENN: Well everybody that visits me unannounced is not welcome. I had two incidents in the last 30 days. I’ve called 911 three times. On one occasion, this one guy started wrestling with a police officer at my front gate and they put him in handcuffs and took him to jail.
EEDS: This summer?
FENN: Yes. But, the treasure is more than eight miles north of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains, and south of Canada, and I’ve excluded Idaho and Utah.
EEDS: Not buried in your yard.
FENN: It’s not hidden or buried in my yard.
EEDS: Yeah, hidden or buried. I keep saying it’s buried. You’re not going to go that far.
FENN: No, I’m not going to go that far.
EEDS: Alright how many people do you estimate, you or Dal, how many do you guys estimate, how many people 1) are looking at any given time or kind of part time, but seriously looking, and then last time you were here was in May, you thought there would be over, be maybe 10,000 people visit Santa Fe this summer as part of the treasure hunt.
FENN: Well last summer the occupancy rate was up six percent, and nobody could explain why. I’d like to take credit for part of that, but I think this last summer there were 50,000 people that came to Santa Fe.
EEDS: Fifty thousand.
FENN: Ostensibly to look for the treasure. They love to get out into the mountains, and I get a hundred emails a day from them. A lot of them are saying we didn’t find the treasure but we sure had a great time in the mountains. And thank you for getting us off the couch and off our texting machines and into the mountains.
EEDS: Right. Um, so, 50,000 people you think may have come to Santa Fe. How many worldwide do you think are somewhat tuned into this hunt?
FENN: Well Dal can kind of tell you more than that because he knows where these hits are coming from. Lots of people from the United Kingdom and Germany and France.
NEITZEL: And Australia. We see lots of hits from Australia, uh, France, Iceland. We get hits from Iceland if you can believe that. You know, this is worldwide. We get Japan, couple stories from Japan.
FENN: There are two guys in London. They don’t know each other but, they fly over here. Look for the treasure for two days, then fly back to London. They’ve done that three or four times, both of them.
EEDS: They’ve got money and time on their hands, huh?
FENN: They love America and they love the Rocky Mountains. It’s the thrill of the chase. I keep going back to that. If you don’t, if you don’t find the treasure, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to be entertained and life enhanced by getting in the search.
EEDS: Sure. This is, I mean, this is an old story. You get all these mines in the mountains of the Western United States and people going around prospecting. Looking for that elusive, you know, one in a bazillion chance. You’re gonna get lucky.
FENN: Well I’ll give you a clue. The treasure is not in a mine or in a tunnel. Please stay out of those things, they’re dangerous.
EEDS: Dangerous as hell. Dangerous as a rattlesnake. Or worse.
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Alright, so Dal, the website gets hit from all over the world. Um, do you think it’s just people passing the time? Do you think people are curious?
NEITZEL: No I think people real - I think a lot of these people who come to our blog are people that are expecting to go out and go look for it. We see an uptick in hits in the spring. People are planning. They’re looking for ideas about what some of these clues mean. They’re reading the blog. They’re finding out what other people folks have been looking for in the past.
EEDS: Right. Checking off a place, or are people checking off places they have looked and then come up dry. So now you don’t have to look there.
NEITZEL: Right. You can actually read other people’s stories. Where they’ve been and why they didn’t find - why they think they didn’t find it there. Why the clues seemed to lead to that place, but in the end, it wasn’t the right place.
EEDS: Have you been one of those people?
NEITZEL: Oh, I’ve never looked for the treasure (laughing).
EEDS: This treasure.
EEDS: But you understand the lure right? Because you have looked for treasure.
NEITZEL: I’ve been up looking for this treasure - my last trip - I just came back from my last trip. I was up in Yellowstone.
EEDS: Looking for Forrest’s treasure?
NEITZEL: Looking for Forrest’s treasure.
EEDS: Oh you have?
NEITZEL: Absolutely. I’ve been out 66 times looking for Forrest’s treasure. And I have not even come close, I’m pretty sure.
EEDS: So do you weave, do you weave, uh, your thoughts into this website as well?
NEITZEL: Oh absolutely. I write stories about where I’ve been, and why I’ve looked in certain places. What I think the clues are.
EEDS: I’m surprised you don’t hate this guy.
NEITZEL: I love this guy! This is the most fun I’ve had! You now, I’ve - it’s just a lot of fun going out and looking.
EEDS: What do you do for a living?
NEITZEL: I run a small TV station in Bellingham, Washington.
NEITZEL: Yeah. I know. It’s impossible.
NEITZEL: It’s a community station.
EEDS: Community station.
NEITZEL: Yeah, a little government and education community station.
EEDS: But you can get away when you want to.
NEITZEL: I can, and that’s what makes this worth it. That’s what makes this possible.
NEITZEL: Yeah, I’m one of those guys who can sort of, walk away from things for, you know, a couple of weeks.
EEDS: Now it is cool, and we were looking during the break, as Forrest has mentioned, he’s written like a hundred forty-five little stories that he posted on the website. Not about the treasure. THis one is about - and I’m - I don’t want to get you in trouble here, Forrest, but this nineteen thirty-five… Buick?
EEDS: Plymouth. I’m sorry. I touch a nerve there? Do you love this car more than you love peggy?
FENN: Well my - you are gonna get me in trouble now. The first car I ever bought was in 1946; I was sixteen years old, didn’t have a driver license. I bought it in Atlanta, Georgia. I worked all summer to get $250 and I gave that money for this 1935 Plymouth. I drove it from Atlanta, Georgia to Temple, Texas and I drove at night because I didn’t want the cops to see how young I was
EEDS: Yeah you were a kid.
FENN: My wife and I were courting each other in 1946 in a Plymouth that’s identical twin brothers to the one I recently purchased. I looked for a year for that 1935 Plymouth. Put a picture of it on Dal’s blog.
EEDS: Yeah - oh it’s gorgeous.
FENN: It’s a beautiful car.
EEDS: I mean now, it’s totally restored right?
FENN: Totally restored. New paint job. Sixty horsepower. It’s not the deluxe model. That means it doesn’t have the windshield wiper on the right hand side, or a sun visor. It’s six cylinder. Top speed is 55 miles an hour. I’m getting ready to replace the tires because they’re 48 years old. They still have a lot of tread, but the rubber’s getting hard and I’m afraid they’re just going to collapse one of these days.
EEDS: Are those kinds of tires hard to find?
FENN: We’re having them custom built on the same forms that they were built in 1935.
EEDS: Wow. By whom?
FENN: By Plymouth.
EEDS: Plymouth was making their own tires back in those days?
FENN: They sold the forms to another company. That company is making new tires for us.
EEDS: So to get rubber on a car like this, you have to have it custom made?
FENN: You have to have them custom made.
EEDS: Right. You didn’t answer my question. Do you love this car more than you love Peggy?
FENN: No. No I don’t.
FENN: My wife and I have been married for 62 years and we go back eight years before the 62 years so we’re talking about 70 years.
EEDS: Last month you turned 85.
FENN: Eighty-five. I tell people I’m 40 with 45 years experience.
EEDS: Right. Well happy birthday young man.
FENN: Thank you.
EEDS: You asked Dal and I to sing you “Happy Birthday” but we’re going to pass on that.
FENN: I’ll give you $5 if you won’t.
EEDS: Be back with Forrest Fenn and Dal. Dal runs the website. It’s about 13 minutes before 11 o’clock. Coming up at 11 you’ll have the branding guys. Haydek and Glover will be here. Glover may be down in his cups a little bit. His Oregon Ducks lost to Michigan State. It was a great game on Saturday. But he’s probably happy with the performance yesterday of the rookie Marcus Mariotta. Kid came out flinging. He was awesome. Forty-seven minutes after ten, we’ll be right back.
EEDS: It’s ten minutes before eleven o’clock. Guest in studio is Forrest Fenn. Forrest I played this for you. You said you and Peggy met in Georgia?
FENN: No. We met in Temple, Texas. We went to high school together.
EEDS: Okay. What were you doing in Georgia?
FENN: Well, I had my namesake, an uncle, up there who said if I come and spend the summer with him, he’ll get me a job and I can make $250 and buy a car. That’s what put me on a train to Atlanta.
EEDS: WIll you, I mean, you know, you can change your mind, there’s no rules here like you said. There’s no rule you can’t take it with you. But, do you think you’ll come up with any more clues if you think this goes on too long or you get bored with the progress or...
FENN: Well I hope not.
EEDS: There’s enough information there.
FENN: There’s enough information.
EEDS: To lead somebody to it.
FENN: That’s right. But, you know, when I decided to do this, my goal was long range really. I had so much fun over 17 years collecting antiques and things. When I thought I was going to die, I said, why not just let somebody else do that. Hiding a treasure chest is not something somebody’s going to do on Spring Break, or a Sunday afternoon picnic.
EEDS: It takes some long, concerted research and effort.
FENN: Well it doesn’t take - You just have to think the right things. The clues are in the poem, and if you can figure the clues out, they will take you to the treasure chest. You need a little imagination maybe.
EEDS: For example? (silence… awkward laughter) Alright, Andy Briggs. The guy from United Kingdom. The author who’s said he found a code word. You overlay the code word; it solves the entire riddle with the exception of one small thing he couldn’t quite get.
FENN: Well, I’ll tell you, I could not find the treasure after reading his email about his solve. I just couldn’t do it. But the treasure is there waiting for the right person. And Dal’s said he’s been hunting for it for 60 years. I don’t…
EEDS: Sixty-six times. Sixty-six trips. Is that right?
FENN: He never tells me where he’s going, but he brags about where he’s been.
EEDS: Why should he tell you?
NEITZEL: He knows where it’s at.
FENN: I have to be real careful when I’m around him.
EEDS: I bet you do! Now, we made it clear last time you were here, that he doesn’t know, Mika doesn’t know, you don’t want anybody in your family to know so people leave them alone, right?
FENN: But I’ll tell you I think I made a mistake. I think it was on Dal’s blog. I told somebody that the clue - part - a dam was not part of the clues.
FENN: “Where warm waters halt” is one of the clues and they - a lot of people figured that’s where water is letting out of a dam.
EEDS: What about a beaver dam?
FENN: That’s a dam.
FENN: That’s no clue.
EEDS: There’s no dam.
FENN: But I told this one person it’s not related to a dam, and so I felt like that’s the only person that knows so I had to announce that as one of the clues. I didn’t want to give that as a clue, but
EEDS: But you did it here on Dal’s blog?
FENN: I did it on Dal’s blog so that everybody would play on the same field.
EEDS: Exactly. So you needed to be fair.
FENN: I didn’t want to give that as a clue, but I had to.
EEDS: Okay. But you feel there’s plenty in there, uh, to lead somebody if they think in the right way, to the treasure. Which, I gotta believe, the value of the treasure is going up every year, right? The price of gold?
FENN: Well the price of gold is coming down.
EEDS: Coming down, right, now, but how long ago did you hide this?
FENN: Well I think we’re going on six years, aren’t we Dal? Yeah.
EEDS: So, gold 6-7 years ago. $800 - $900 an ounce? Or was it over a thousand?
FENN: Yeah, I think it was like $1200 - $1300 an ounce. But, you know, if you read the prognosis on gold, they’re saying it’s going to go to $5000 an ounce. When that happens, this treasure chest is going to be worth a lot of money.
NEITZEL: But it’s not just gold that’s in there right? We’ve seen some of the things that are in there.
FENN: Well there’s 2 little carved ancient Chinese jade carved carvings.
FENN: There are some pre-Columbian gold figures, Waka’s, and cast gold frogs that date - and there’s a beautiful Tyrolian and Sinu necklace that dates to 2,000 years old with wonderful fetishes made with quartz crystal. And cast gold jaguar claws and it’s, it’s… The person that finds that treasure chest and puts it on his lap and opens that lid is going to faint or start laughing. One of the two.
NEITZEL: Forrest, this chest weighs 42 pounds.
EEDS: But it’s small enough to put on your lap.
FENN: Well there are 20.2 troy pounds of gold in that treasure chest, and 265 gold coins. And a lot of them have numismatic value way beyond the spot of gold.
EEDS: So, Dal, how many times have you got Forrest drunk hoping you would get the location out of him?
NEITZEL: I tried. We’ve tried phenobarbital. We’ve tried everything you know? But, we just can’t get him to tell us anything.
EEDS: What’s his biggest weakness? Is it chocolate? What is it?
NEITZEL: I don’t know. We haven’t worked on that yet. That’s a good idea!
EEDS: That’s the other mystery: how do you pry this out of him? You ain't’ telling are you?
FENN: There are people on the blogs that think that Dal has an inside track on where… I’ll tell you what. I think that they think because Dal and I are friends that handicaps him.
FENN: Because I’m very careful around Dal.
EEDS: And you probably let slip little non-clues - little things that’ll confuse him.
FENN: Well I may give him…
NEITZEL: I’m always confused, so it’s not hard for him to confuse me more.
FENN: Dal has no advantage over anyone.
EEDS: Alright. This beautiful book. Tell me about this beautiful book.
FENN: Well that beautiful book is about eight or nine years in the making. It’s 412 pages. It has 168 color plates.
EEDS: It’s about 25 pounds.
FENN: It weighs 6.25 pounds. We broke the law on that book. There are three places in there where you can swoosh your phone on an avatar
EEDS: You told me you were going to do that
FENN: You can see a video of Leon Gaspard riding his house, riding his horse around Taos. How many books can you do that on? And there’s another place…
EEDS: Where can people get it?
FENN: You can get it on Dal’s blog. You can get it on Old Santa Fe Trading Co dot com, and you can buy it at the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe.
EEDS: The only place? The only bookstore?
FENN: That’s the only bookstore in Santa Fe that has my book.
EEDS: Right. You’re very loyal to them, aren’t you?
FENN: I am, yes. Dorothy and her daughter…
EEDS: I knew I’d find it there Saturday. The only place I had to go. And it’s for sale, and it’s called, “Leon Gaspard and the Call of Distant Places.”
FENN: The call of distant places, yeah. He was married to - before the first world war. And as a wedding present, his uncle gave him three horses. Two were riding horses and a pack horse. And Gaspard put his new bride on a horse, and they rode for two years across Russia and Mongolia sleeping on the ground. I mean, that’s what this book - it’s history and it’s art. And it’s a wonderful biography of his
EEDS: Does that speak to you more than his paintings did? Just that. Just picturing that?
FENN: That means the paintings that I was selling in 1976 for $7500 are more than $1,000,000 now. You have some money in a tin can someplace, buy yourself a nice Gaspard painting.
EEDS: It’s a beautiful book.
FENN: Thank you.
EEDS: I invite people to either stop by and visit Collected Works and take a look at it. It’s sitting there on the counter. I think that I said William got up and left here - this will be the last artist biography you’ll do?
FENN: That’s my 10th book and that’s my swan song.
EEDS: This is it huh? Thank you for coming by. Dal, thank you coming by.
NEITZEL: Thank you for having me.
EEDS: How much longer you going to be in Santa Fe?
NEITZEL: A couple days here.
NEITZEL: Yeah, it’s a beautiful place.
EEDS: It is a beautiful place. Forrest, all the best.
FENN: Thank you!
EEDS: Thank you for coming by. Alright, if you want to go back, if you think there might be clues, and there might be, I’m not saying there aren’t, might be some clues in this interview, go back. It’s going to be up couple hours from now. Santa Fe dot com slash Richard Eeds. Might lead you to that treasure chest. That fits - can sit on your lap. I don’t know. I am convinced finally that there is a treasure chest. Which is more than I was originally.
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A Beautiful World
HEATHER MCELHATTON: I’m Heather McElhatton and this is A Beautiful World bringing you inspirational stories from around the globe.
FORREST FENN: You know, when I thought I was going to die of cancer, I told myself, you know, I’ve had it - I’ve had such a good life, I’m 83 years old now. And I said why don’t I give someone else the same opportunities that I’ve had.
MCELHATTON: That’s Forrest Fenn. He’s an 83 year old millionaire living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He’s a lifelong treasure hunter, sort of a modern day Indiana Jones. He’s the kind of guy that goes all over the world searching for treasures which he then sells. So, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he decided that before he left, he wanted to leave something behind for other people. So that they could experience, what he’s been experiencing his whole life: adventure, mystery, and intrigue. So he says that he bought a treasure chest, and he’s filled it with some of his favorite artifacts from his own collection, and he’s hidden it somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. It’s out there right now waiting for someone to find it, and I asked him what exactly he’d put inside.
FENN: There’s hundreds of gold nuggets. Two of them are larger than a chicken egg, and there are 265 gold coins, mostly eagles and American Double Eagles. But there are hundreds of rubies, and diamonds, and emeralds, and sapphires, and jade carv - ancient jade carved figures. I think when they lift that lid and look at that, their hand is going to go to their mouth and they’re going to say “Oh my God,” and I know they’re going to start laughing if they don’t faint.
MCELHATTON: And how is somebody supposed to find this hidden treasure? Well, Fenn says that he has left us a clue. In fact, he’s left us nine clues, which he put into a poem that he wrote. A poem that, he says, if you follow the clues, you’ll find the treasure. Here’s the poem now, read to you by MPR reporter Dan Olsen:
OLSEN: Where the Treasure Lies, by Forrest Fenn (Recites Poem)
MCELHATTON: Fenn admits it’s possible that no one will ever find the treasure. But that’s okay with him because, in this lifetime, no matter what treasure you find on Earth, you can’t take it with you.
FENN: As I get older, I keep reminding myself that the most important thing in life, really, when you boil everything down, is contentment. If you’re contented, and everything else is full and in life and you have to have a beautiful world if you’re contented. If you can eventually end up being contented, then I don’t know what’s better than that.
MCELHATTON: That was Forrest Fenn. You can find out more about his hidden treasure by going to mpr.org/abeautifulworld, or by picking up a copy of his book called, The Thrill of The Chase, which details the remarkable story of Forrest Fenn’s life and gives even more clues about where the hidden treasure might be. I’m Heather McElhatton and this is A Beautiful World from American Public Media.
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A Beautiful World - Extended Interview
HEATHER MCELHATTON: I’m Heather McElhatton and this is A Beautiful World, bringing you inspirational stories from around the globe.
FORREST FENN: A reporter asked me, “Mr. Fenn, who is your audience?” And I said, “My audience is every redneck that is married, has 12 kids, lost his job, has a pickup truck, and has a sleeping bag. That’s my audience.” And I hope that’s the guy that finds my treasure chest.
MCELHATTON: Adventure, exploration, and intrigue. The thrill of the hunt. Those are the reasons that millionaire Forrest Fenn gave for why he buried a treasure chest in the Sierra Madres filled with gold and treasure valued in the millions. It all started when Forrest was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was told his condition was terminal.
FENN: My doctor gave me a 20% chance of living three years.
MCELHATTON: He realized that even though he had spent his entire life hunting for treasure, he wouldn’t be able to take a single coin with him when he died.
FENN: You know, when I thought I was going to die of cancer, I told myself I’ve had it - I’ve had such a good life. I’m 83 years old now, and it’s been so much fun for me chasing antiques and looking in trunks in an old antique shop. And I told myself, why don’t I give somebody else the same opportunity that I’ve had.
MCELHATTON: Forrest Fenn is a treasure hunter by trade - a real life Indiana Jones.
FENN: It just so happened that about that time, Ralph Lauren, who is also a collector, was in my library with me and he wanted something that he would like to buy from me and I said, well I really don’t want to sell that. He said, “Well Forrest, you’ve got so many of these things, you can’t take them with you.” I said, “Ralph, if I can’t take it with me, then I’m not going to go.” And that night I started thinking about it. I said, “Who says I can’t take it with me. Why do I have to play by everybody else’s rules?”
MCELHATTON: Fenn says, he thought about it for a while, and then he went out and he bought a $25,000 treasure chest. Because if he was going out, he was going out his way.
FENN: I started over the years, I started filling it up with gold nuggets and gold coins and pre-Columbian gold. There’s ancient Chinese jade figures and some pre-Columbian gold Wa’kas from Central America. I ruined the story by getting well, Heather. But I told myself it was a good idea anyway, I’m just going to take this treasure chest out and hide it. And I wrote a book called The Thrill of the Chase, and in that book there’s a poem that has nine clues in it. If you can follow the clues in the poem, they will take you to the treasure chest. And if you can find the treasure chest, you can have it.
MCELHATTON: Fenn said it was an experience he had with his father, early on, that got him hooked on treasure hunting for life.
FENN: Well, you know, I made D’s and F’s in school. I think I graduated from high school because my father was one of the principals. I don’t think my father had many expectations from me, but the first artifact I found, I was looking in a plowed field with my father in Central Texas and I… We were arrowhead collectors. He was an arrowhead collector, and I wanted to be, but I’d never found one so, we were walking down through this, a friend’s plowed field and I found my first beautiful little arrowhead. A little orange thing, it dates probably 800 years old, and it was the thrill of my life. You know, when I saw that little arrowhead, I told myself, that that beautiful little thing, little beautiful thing had been laying there on that field for 800 years waiting for me to come along and pick it up. It started on me a lifetime of adventure and inspiration.
MCELHATTON: And during that lifetime, Fenn has done things his way - a policy he plans to continue.
FENN: I want to go out - I’d like to go out on my own terms. That’s what my father did. He had terminal cancer. They gave him six months to live, and 18 years later, uh, 18 months later, he was in great pain. He wouldn’t take any kind of pain pills, and he took his own life and I so respected him for doing that. I talked about that in my book, you know. Why do you have to do those kind of things under everybody else’s terms? I mean, I respected my father for doing that.
MCELHATTON: It was searching for treasure that brought Forrest Fenn and his father together. Which is something he also hopes to pass on to others.
FENN: We have trouble with our children today. We’re obese. We’re sitting on the couch watching TV or we’re down in the game room and one of my reasons was to do something to try to get these kids excited. Get them out in the mountains and in the fresh air and interested in nature. I think that’s so important today. We’ve gotten away from that. A fortunate byproduct of what this chase has done is I got an email from a man who had told me had not spoken to his brother for seventeen years. But when he read about the treasure, he called his brother on the phone and they’ve hooked up again and now they’re out looking for the treasure chest together.
MCELHATTON: So it gets people out of the house and it brings people together.
FENN: The treasure chase brought them together, and there are lots of families can hardly wait till school’s out so that mom and pop can get the three kids in the car and head out to the Rocky Mountains. You know, we’re reuniting families, we’re getting them off the couches, and away from our texting machines and we’re getting people out in the mountains to smell the sunshine. It’s very rewarding to me.
MCELHATTON: Fenn has received over 36,000 letters and emails from people hunting for his treasure, all unsuccessfully.
FENN: I don’t know whether anybody will ever find it or not. You know, the Rosetta Stone was buried for 2,000 years before it was found and I keep telling myself, “Don’t you know that guy is proud that made that Rosetta Stone?” There’s a thrill in discovery. There’s no doubt about that. I know exactly how gold miners feel, you know? They think the next shovel is going to be the mother lode.
MCELHATTON: I asked Fenn to describe what exactly he put inside the treasure chest. The one that’s waiting out there for someone to find it.
FENN: Heather, when somebody finds my treasure chest, and they’re sitting down with that thing on their lap, it weighs 42 pounds, and they open that lid, they’re just going to take a deep breath and start laughing. It is such an amazing site to see. And, uh, that’s what I’m hoping for. I don’t know when somebody’s going to find that thing. It could be this summer, it could be a thousand years from now. But I know they’re going to have an amazing feeling and their pulse rate is going to increase, I can guarantee that. When they open that lid and they look at what’s in that - you know there’s hundreds of gold nuggets. Two of them are larger than a chicken egg. There are 265 gold coins. Mostly Eagles - American Double Eagles, but there are hundreds of rubies and diamonds, and emeralds, and sapphires, and jade carved - ancient carved Chinese carved jade figures. And I think when they lift that lid and look at their hand is going to go to their mouth and they’re going to say, “Oh my God.” And I know that they’re going to start laughing if they don’t faint.
MCELHATTON: If you want to try looking for Fenn’s treasure yourself, your best bet is to start with his poem. Which Fenn says contains nine clues that will lead you to the treasure. Here’s the poem that Fenn wrote, read to you by MPR reporter Dan Olson.
DAN OLSON: (Reads poem)
MCELHATTON: Fenn has collected millions of dollars of treasure over his lifetime, and I asked him what some of his favorite treasure hunts were.
FENN: I was excavating with a friend out at our pueblo, and we were using trowels going down in this room that was occupied about 1325 and we got down near the floor, and we started finding medicines. I say medicines because they were concretions and arrowheads and painted rocks and crystals and several pieces of painted pottery. And then all of the sudden, with my trowel, I uncovered a prehistoric kachina dance mask, and there was another one beside it. But, you know, history said that the kachina culture didn’t exist in prehistoric times, but we had these things carbon-14 dated at the age of - they were made about 1325 A.D. So that was a thrill, and I got so excited that I decided this was too important for me to do by myself, so I called the state archeologist and they came out and excavated these two masks for me while I stood there and made notes. I was smiling from ear to ear the entire time. It was a real thrill for me.
MCELHATTON: Over his long career searching for treasure, Forrest Fenn says that he has picked up much more than just artifacts. He’s picked up lessons for life.
FENN: Well, you know, in Libya, that’s the Sahara desert. The north end of the Sahara desert on the Mediterranean. I would get a jeep on the weekends and drive out into the desert where the great tank battles were fought in World War II. I could drive along past them, a burned out tank and there’s a German helmet lying on the ground there and, bullets and hand grenades laying around. And when you walk through that battlefield and look closely, you can find arrowheads that were, I don’t know how old they were, 2,000 - 2,500 years old. What we were looking at was wars on top of wars. It really brings history into context. And solidifies my belief that we need to learn to leave people alone. Why are we fighting all of the time? Some of those experiences are very graphic to me and made a lasting impression.
MCELHATTON: And all these lessons, led to some advice he’d like to give everybody.
FENN: My advice to everybody today is this: If you’re not happy in your marriage, and you’re not happy in your job, slam the door and walk away. It’s so much fun to start over again. You know, I’ve never been divorced, but I’ve done a lot of things. One of my rules when I was a kid was that I didn’t want to do anything for more than 15 years. And my reason is that there is so many good things to do, and not very many 15’s. I had to go to school for - high school, I had to graduate. I was in the air force for 20 years, so I’ve violated some of my rules, but I think it’s good advice. I don’t care how good you are in your job, and how much you enjoy it, after 15 years, you should go do something else. I see doctors and lawyers that are 85 years old and still going to the office every day with a coat and tie on and it just makes me shake my head. As I get older, I keep reminding myself that the most important thing in life, really, when you boil everything down, is contentment. If you’re contented, then everything else is full and in life, and you have to have a beautiful world if you’re contented. And I think that everybody alive today should use that word as their goal. If you can eventually end up being contented, then I don’t know what’s better than that.
MCELHATTON: If you want to find out more about Forrest Fenn and his treasure, you can go to MPR.org/abeautifulworld. Or pick up a copy of his book Too Far to Walk, which details his amazing life, and gives more clues as to where the treasure might be. I’m Heather McElhatton and this is A Beautiful World from American Public Media. I can’t thank you enough for talking with us. Is there anything else you want to add before I let you go?
FENN: Well, you know, I love your voice on the radio, is there, are you sure you’re spoken for, Heather? (laughter) I thank you for the call, and it’s been a pleasure to speak with you. You’re a sweetheart.
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Everything is Stories - 003 As I Have Gone Alone in There
FORREST FENN: Well, when I was nine years old, I found my first arrowhead with my father. He was an arrowhead collector, and so was my football coach in high school. So we did all that together. Most of the arrowheads you find out in the countryside are broken in half in two. And people say, “Oh that’s broken. That’s terrible.” But to me, that means a lot to me. That means that the projector was on the end of an arrow. It penetrated the body of a deer maybe. Hit a bone and broke right in front of where it was hafted. So to me, that thing has a history that a whole arrowhead doesn’t have. I think it’s the wonderment of being out there, of seeing nature, and visualizing what used to be. The Rosetta Stone was buried for 2,000 years before somebody found it, and I said in my book, “Don’t you know that guy is proud? The guy that carved that thing.”
Well it was 1988 when I acquired the treasure chest and started filling it up with thing. I paid $25,000 for the treasure chest, and I started filling it up with 265 gold coins. Most of them are American Eagles and some Double Eagles, mostly Double Eagles. My goal never changed. My goal was to take that treasure chest out in a very special place and put it there. I’ve never said that I buried it, but I never said that I didn’t bury it. I just don’t want to give that as a clue. And, let people go looking for it. If you can find the treasure chest, and open that lid for the first time, it’s going to be the most wonderful thing that you ever saw.
I crafted a poem that’s in my book. It has nine clues in it, and I changed that poem over a 15 year period. People read that poem and it’s there, “He sat down and wrote that poem in 15 minutes.” It took me 15 years. The poem is not so much written as it is an architectural plan. It’s been crafted. It reads very simple. Here, hand me that book.
I dare you to go get it. If you can find it, you can have it. And nobody knows where it is but me. If a train runs over me this afternoon, it will go to my grave with me.
My name is Forrest Fenn. We’re in my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’ve lived in it since 1988 and I think it will be my last abode. The Santa Fe trail runs about 50 feet from my library window and I have an old 1880 Army ammunition wagon sitting right in the middle of the Santa Fe trail. It goes right through my pond. I’m very happy where I am. Santa Fe is a wonderful place to live. I’ll be 83 in two weeks. I’m going out at the top of my game. Some people are collectors and some people are not. My wife is not a collector, but I collected everything. I used to collect match folders and beer steins. I don’t know what it is, but if you have an old photograph of your mother, what makes you like that photograph? Antiques - there’s the mystery of it. The unknown that plays on your mind. The mystery of who they were and who made it and what they did. You can conjure back anything you want to about that.
It’s the thrill of discovery - the thrill of the chase. On we go / the virtue lies / in the journey / not the prize. And I believe that.
MARK HOWARD: There’s a lot of people that really enjoy the idea of a treasure, you know? Just like I enjoy the idea of it. From my perspective, of course, I’m a goldsmith and having 20 pounds of gold to work with, that’s my palette. That’s what I enjoy and that’s what I do, so that would be extreme freedom for me from $1300 an ounce gold, you know, which is what I have to pay today. My name is Mark Howard. We’re here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or outside thereof, and this is my house, and as far as the treasure goes, I’m going to probably look again although the past two times, because it’s whipped me, I said to my wife, “You know, maybe I shouldn’t go again.” And it only takes me a couple of weeks to say, “No, I think I gotta go again.” I like the treasure hunt. It’s like when we were kids. Like Treasure Island and all those stories you read when you were a kid, and you thought, “God, I’d just love to go out and do something like that.” And this kind of fed into that, and I said, okay. I was, what, 57? I’m going to be 60. If I’m going to do this kind of thing, I’d better do it now. There’s some historical points in there, historical artifacts in there. All those interest me too. I really love the antique stuff. One of the things I really want is that damn box. I really want that box, because this is from like 1150 A.D.
FENN: The box is a beautiful cast bronze box that I’ve been told was 11th or 12th century. It’s 10 inches by 10 inches and 5 inches deep, and weighs 42 pounds. The gold is what makes it heavy. 265 gold coins, some pre-Columbian gold figures that are 1500 to 1800 years old. There’s a wonderful necklace in there made by Sinu and Tairona cultures with carved jade figures and carnelian and quartz crystals carved figures. It’s wonderful - 2000 years old. It’s… It’s worth looking for. I put a little bracelet in there that I won in a pool game with a guy. It’s the cheapest thing in there. It’s probably worth, well with all the notoriety it’s had now, it’s probably worth $750. It was worth $250 when I put it in the treasure chest. You can’t just go out and buy a bunch of gold nuggets. There are hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets in that treasure chest. There’s a little jar of gold dust from Alaska. I couldn’t put a Porsche in the box, or I’d have done that. I was limited by so many cubic inches in that treasure chest.
HOWARD: He often says if it takes 2,000 years for someone to find it, that’s just fine by him. It’s not fine by me, but that’s okay. I think I’ve been out only maybe 20 times. Started here in Northern New Mexico, and at one point I went as far as Yellowstone. Then I went into Colorado, and I’m still kind of bouncing around looking for the treasure. Almost anybody that found it, with the exception of the people that are crazy, would probably let it go. I certainly would. My idea is to put Jim Weatherell’s bracelet on, and walk up to his house, you know, and knock on the door, and he’d know immediately. I wouldn’t have to say a thing; he wouldn’t have to say a thing. That way, he’d never have to say anything to anybody else either. That’s, uh, you know, that’s a daydream.
FENN: There’s something that I don’t know whether it’s in the treasure chest or not. It was a crazy idea. But, going about the question you asked earlier, “Did I want to know if someone had found the treasure chest?” So I said, “Yeah, I do.” One reason is so people won’t be spending all their money looking for something that isn’t there any more. So I put an IOU - I wrote out an IOU. “Take this IOU to my bank in Santa Fe, and collect $100,000.” I figured for $100,000, the guy that found the treasure chest would not want to keep it secret anymore. So now the IRS is getting in the act and everybody knows. But if someone finds it 1,000 years from now, my bank won’t be there, and there won’t be any money in the account even if they did, so, I think I took that IOU out. But I don’t remember whether I did or not. It’s in there in spirit.
There are two gold nuggets in that treasure chest that weigh more than a Troy pound apiece. I used to take them out and hand them to people that would almost drop them because they’re so heavy. I’d go on the Today show, you know, I’ve been on five times...
JANET SHAMLIAN: ...Talk you into, somehow, giving us another clue this morning....
FENN: Well I’m not going to put an X on the map for you.
And I think we’ll do it maybe another… and I give clues. The last clue I gave them was that it’s not in Utah or Idaho. But that’s not going to lead you to the treasure chest.
...The clue is that the treasure is higher than seven, uh, five thousand feet above sea level....
SHAMLIAN: ...The treasure is higher than 5,000 feet above sea level....
MICHAEL MCGARRITY: I think it’s in New Mexico. Now, the issue was: was it buried? We finally got Forrest to admit that no, it’s hidden. So, it’s quite possible it’s not buried, just simply hidden. My name’s Michael McGarrity, I’m a novelist. We’re in Cathedral Park, which is next to the Basilica a block from the famous Santa Fe Plaza. We like to get together once in awhile and have lunch and tell stories. Socializing is something that usually happens when someone throws a party, or there’s some special event to get folks together. This is the stuff that myths are made of, that legends are made of. And we’ve got our share of old mine treasures being hidden on the White Sands missile range. Vittorio Peak, or down in the Gila, now we’ve got the Forrest Fenn treasure.
FENN: There’ve been some people very close to the treasure chest. There have been people that have figured out the first couple of clues and walked right past the treasure chest. I think it’s there - I haven’t checked on it, but I’m 99.9% sure it’s there.
MCGARRITY: He has said publicly, that people have come within 500 feet of the treasure. Now, the question is: is that true? I mean that’s a great teaser, and I would have used it myself even if the person that got closest to it was five miles away. I still would have said that. If it’s found, and I asked him this question, if it’s found, how are you going to know its found? Now he’s convinced that he will be contacted, right? If I found a multi-million dollar treasure, I wouldn’t want the IRS to know about it, would you? No! I’d take it home and I’d sell one gold nugget at a time. He’s a character. What else can I say? He’s an interesting guy. He has a certain flamboyancey to him.
FENN: But I put other things in there too. I pulled a couple of hairs out of my head. Because somebody can do a DNA, they can do a carbon-14 test. You know, there’s another thing that I put in the chest that I’ve not told anybody about, and I’m saving it for the person that finds the treasure chest. In other words, this is not something that I put together in an afternoon. I spent a lot of time thinking about it.
MARY WOLF: My name is Mary Wolf. I’m the co-owner of the Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. Forrest Fenn has been a loyal and constant customer of the bookstore since the bookstore opened in 1978. I got to know him best, probably, in 2010 when he came to the store to talk to Dorothy and myself about The Thrill of the Chase, the book that he was about to release and publish.
FENN: I wrote a book called The Thrill of the Chase and that’s the philosophy that permeates that book. You know, there’s a lady writer from Austin asked me, “Mr. Fenn, who’s your audience for this book?” I said, “My audience is every redneck in Texas with a pickup truck and 12 kids. He’s lost his job and has the thrill to go out and look for things.” I said, “That’s my audience.” Throw a bedroll in the back of your truck, get a six pack, and hit the road looking for a fortune! I mean, it’s the thrill of the chase. That’s what we’re talking about. Take your wife. Put all the kids in the back of the truck and head out!
WOLF: The Thrill of the Chase has had a huge impact, obviously, on our business. Forrest is not tied to the bookstore in any way contractually; however, he gave us this book to sell. He paid for the first printing, and then gave us the book because he didn’t want anyone to say he was making any money from this store, which he hasn’t. We’ve paid for the last printing, and we’ll pay for the future printings. And we are already in the 5th printing coming up, so we’re going through the books. First of all he can well-afford to hide a treasure of that value, and what really drives him is to leave a lasting mark on a whole generation of people and recreate a love for adventure and a passion for discovery that he has in his own life. And I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s a beautiful story. He has an amazing story.
FENN: Well, I was born in Temple, Texas in the heart of Texas 60 miles north of Austin. My father was a school teacher. When I started first grade, he started in the school that I started first grade in. He was a math teacher, and the next year, they promoted him to be the principal. And then I went to a Junior High School, and he moved over there and he was my principal again. So I passed all those courses because my father was principal. I’m not sure for any other reason!
I remember the first time I saw TV in Temple, Texas there was a big truck out behind, on the city square behind the city hall. And they invited people to come into city hall and look at the television set that was being transmitted from a hundred feet away. It wasn’t a very good picture. And then, a couple of years later, color TV came along and boy, that’ll never work! And I remember riding back from Yellowstone to Temple, Texas with my football coach in 1946 when they dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
HISTORIC VOICEOVER: When can we tell when the atomic bomb will explode?
FENN: And boy, that was the end. The beginning of the end. President Eisenhower told everybody to go out in their backyard and dig a bomb shelter and stock it with food for… and everybody did.
HISTORIC VOICEOVER: Always remember, the flash of an atomic bomb can come at any time no matter where you may be.
FENN: Every generation thinks that theirs will be the last. When the bow and arrow was invented, everybody said boy, the end is coming! And then when the Chinese invented gunpowder, that WAS the end.
MCGARRITY: Santa Fe’s a place that attracts unusual people. Forrest certainly qualifies in that regard. He’s a very unique guy. His record in the military is just an incredible one. You could call him a war hero. I mean he enlisted in the Air Force, I mean he can tell his own story.
FENN: I joined the military on the 6th of September 1950. The Korean War was brand new, and I was going to win the war! I started out as a private and I retired 20 years later as a major. The military in all their wisdom said that I had an aptitude for electronics, and I didn’t have the slightest idea what I was doing. But I went to an Advanced Radar Maintenance school for nine months in Biloxi, Mississippi, and I graduated but I still didn’t know what I was doing. I had a mean sergeant that didn’t like me and I didn’t like him so I went down to personnel and I said, “How can I get out of this place?” They gave me a bunch of forms to fill out and I could go to jump school, I could volunteer for submarine or I could go to pilot training. I said, “I’ll take the first one you can get for me,” and it was pilot training. So they put me in this little machine - it looked like a phone booth turned on its side. And it had a stick in it like an airplane has. It was on springs. If you turned the thing loose, it falls over and you crash. So the secret is to hold the airplane steady. And this guy said I was the best he ever saw doing that, I mean it was the simplest thing I’d ever been in. And I said, “If that’s all there is to it, I’ll take it!” So they accepted me into pilot training.
When you fly in fighter airplanes, the old saying is if the fighter pilot makes a mistake, he doesn’t have to worry about it. But when you get in that airplane all by yourself, it’s a whole different ballgame really. There’s nobody there but you. It’ll sober you up. I was in Vietnam for a year. I flew 328 combat missions. I was shot down twice, and took battle damage a few times. I lost some roommates. Getting shot down was routine. I didn’t get killed, but I had an airplane full of bullet holes, and it was totally destroyed. I did land the thing. I landed at a little airport that was used mostly for forward air controllers, little putt-putt airplanes and helicopters. I put the tail up on this F-100 I was flying and I engaged the barrier because I knew I wasn’t going to stop otherwise. But I pulled that thing the wrong way and I touched down at about 150 knots I guess and I stopped in less than 200 feet. I came away with the idea that we need to learn to leave other people alone. And I think we killed 10 civilians for every military person we killed because we’re dropping bombs and strafing, you don’t see the bodies laying there, but it’s a terrible thing. We need to stop doing that.
When I was 27 years old, no college, I was in a fighter squadron in Bitburg, Germany. They took me down to supply, and I checked out an atomic bomb. 61 megaton atomic bomb. I think the bomb at Hiroshima was something like 17,000 tons? Well this was 61 kilotons. I owned that thing. It had a crew chief like an airplane has a crew chief and it’s on a dolly. But the dolly couldn’t move one inch unless I was standing there supervising. I was all over Europe and South America and all over this country, and we had a gunner school outside of Tripoli, Libya - about 35 or 40 miles. On the weekends, I would get a jeep and go down to the Sahara Desert where the big tank battles were fought during World War Two. It’s just like they left that country, you know? You can see skeletons laying there and a German helmet and a burned out tank and bullets laying around. I can’t tell you how many times I would see a hand grenade laying on the ground there, with a flint projectile laying next to it that’s 1500, 2000, 3000 years old. You’d see wars laying on top of wars.
They grew me up in the Air Force. You get a haircut once a week, whether you like it or not, and I could see myself growing in the Air Force. They gave me so much authority, you know, I retired - you have to serve 20 years to get retired pay, but you have to retire at the end of the month so it cost me 24 extra days. I served 20 years and 24 days. And I got out the first minute I was eligible.
I had a wife and two daughters, two young daughters, and my retired pay was $800 a month. I could get by with that in 1970. We did alright but I wanted to do better than that, and I just wanted to go someplace where the world would stop and let me out. Santa Fe was the only place I knew where I could wear blue jeans, a short-sleeved shirt, and Hush Puppies, and make a living. One of my rules was that I didn’t want to do anything, where my best customer gave me $100 - talking about restaurant business, one hour Martinizing, I mean you go on and on and on. They’re labor intensive. Primary employee doesn’t show up - he’s drunk or something. I was a collector of Indian things and antiques and that sort of thing. So I wanted to deal in luxuries.
JD NOBLE: I’d known about him forever. He’s a local legend. He had an amazing gallery here in town and really brought it to the ultimate Santa Fe gallery. If you had to choose one of the major galleries, his gallery would have been the one. I’m JD Noble. I’m part owner of the Hatsmith of Santa Fe. I was looking for some photos of some old Indians that I knew… I knew Forrest had some photos of these old Indians from Taos. And so, I called him up one day and said, “Hey, I would like to have lunch with you and talk about these old Taos Indians.” So he says, “Yeah, yeah, I want to show you something.” We had lunch and he says, “Well, I don’t really have any photos that I can help you with, but I do have this…” And he unrolls this flyer for the new book on the treasure. And so man, I am hooked right away. So my trips are usually no more than two days. I’ll go in and camp out. If I can’t find it in two days, I come back, then I go out again.
FENN: When you’re dealing with luxuries, normally you’re dealing with better people. You’re dealing with people that can write a check that won’t bounce. I broke all the rules of custom. I would take anybody’s check for any amount of money. And normally, I wasn’t interested in looking at a Driver’s License. You know I go to New York today, and they won’t take my traveler’s check. Well, I took a check for $375,000 from a man one time and told him I didn’t want to see his driver’s license. He couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe I’d take his check. Seventeen years in the business, I had two bad checks. The big one was for $600. And the guy that wrote me the check for $600 he did it deliberately thinking he was going to get by with it. Didn’t say anything to him. I didn’t call him, I didn’t write him a letter. But 30 days later I sued him for $600, attorney’s fees, interest on the note, and $25,000 punitive damages. He was calling my wife trying to get her to talk me into dropping my lawsuit. I finally settled with him. I think I got attorney’s fees $75, Interest on the note was $1.75 or so, and I said come into my gallery again, and I’ll take your check for any amount of money, but next time, it’s $1,000,000 punitive damage because you have a track record.
A guy came into my gallery years ago. He had a little tiny human skull, about the size of a big orange. He said, “This is Napoleon’s skull.” He said, “I want $1,000 for it.” I said, “That can’t be Napoleon's skull, it’s too small.” He said, “Oh, it was his skull when he was a kid.” So, you know, that’s what you have to put up with when you’re a trader. You know, I almost bought the skull! The story was too good to turn down! I ran my gallery for 17 years. My first two shows, I didn’t sell anything. Not even a book. And I finally decided, I had a little bit of money left, I’m going to spend my money on advertising. When that money’s gone, I’m going to slam the door, leave this town and go do something else. Probably flipping hamburgers someplace. I tell people to - if you have a daydream, then that’s where your aptitude is. Go do that.
HOWARD: I think what people need to know is, if they know Forrest Fenn, then they know that he’s a historian and ethnographer and archaeologist, anthropologist… I think part of it is, one of many parts of it is, like, looking to match wits with Forrest. He’s very intelligent. He’s very logical. He’s very creative. And he’s very crafty. I had many of the misconceptions that everybody else starts out with. Misconceptions by - you have a certain perspective, and when you read this book, it’s from your perspective that you look at whatever clues are there, and then try to find this treasure. But, you can’t look at it from your perspective. You have to divorce yourself from that and look at it from the perspective of Forrest Fenn. So first you have to know the man. You have to read the book, and then I read every book that he mentioned in the book. Including things I hadn’t read in years, like Catch-22 and The Great Gatsby. I looked at each one of them trying to say, “Okay, is there a clue in each one of these books as well?”
WOLF: If you know Forrest, then you know that, primarily, he’s an adventurer, and a great explorer of life, and a great collector of things. The thrill of the chase really sums up what his whole life has been about. It’s about pursuing the ‘hard to reach’, going places other people don’t go. Obtaining things that other people aren’t able to obtain. And doing it in a really loving and careful way. I think that the treasure is just indicative of how Forrest thinks, and he has one of the most amazing art collections in the United States. So he was going to leave a legacy behind anyway, but this speaks to his larger desire to leave a legacy for the world.
FENN: People think I did this for my legacy. When you’re dead, a legacy is not worth much to you when you’re dead. So that was never a consideration of mine, really. I don’t care if anybody remembers me after I’m gone. You don’t have to acknowledge me while I’m alive as far as I’m concerned.
MCGARRITY: I used that word with him - legacy. He kind of gave me this strange look like, you know it’s not about legacy, I’m just having fun. I said, “Oh now wait a minute, Forrest, come on, there’s a little bit of the legacy thing. Leaving something behind. This is of legendary proportion. That’s what legacy means. Let’s talk about it from that standpoint. Taking a beautiful antique bronze box and filling it with jewels and coins and gold and nuggets, and burying it, and writing a poem so people can go and find it. If that’s not about legacy, tell me what it is.”
FENN: I learned I had cancer in 1988. I had a small pain in my left groin, and it persisted for a number of months. So I was talking to a doctor at a party one day, and he says, “Well, you ought to go over and check it out.” The first time I knew I was in trouble, the nurse, they gave me some stuff to drink, and they were looking at my kidneys on this machine, and the nurse said, “Hey girls, come over here and look at this.” And I had a dead kidney and my doctor said, “Well, just because your kidney is not working is not reason enough to take it out, but since you have a pain, let’s take it out.” And I said, “What are the chances of it being cancer?” He said, “five percent.” A one hour operation turned into five and he gave me a 20% chance of living three years.
I was standing right here in my office with Ralph Lauren one time. He was a friend, and a client. And I had something that he wanted. I told him I didn’t want to sell it. He said, “You’ve got so many of them. You can’t take them with you.” And without thinking about it, I said to him, “Well, if I can’t take it with me, then I’m not going.” And that night I started thinking about it and I, you know, I had a 20% chance to live, that’s not too good. My father called me on the phone one night. He had pancreas cancer. They gave him six months to live. Eighteen months later, he called me on the phone and said that he was going to take 50 sleeping pills that night. I had an airplane. I said I would be there first thing in the morning. He said, “That’s too late.” And it was. And I respected him because he did it on his own terms. Why do you have to do it on somebody else’s terms all the time? So I decided that if I was going to die, and the odds certainly said that I was going to, then I appreciated what my father did and the last thing I want to do is die in a hospital bed. I said in my book, a hospital bed gives you temporary postponement, and you’re miserable the whole time. The poem originally said, “Take the chest and leave my bones alone.” I ruined my original story because I got well. Why not hide a treasure chest full of wonderful things and let somebody else have the same thrill that I’ve had all these years? For 70 years. 75 years. The gold in the treasure chest weighs 20.2 Troy pounds. It’s full of emeralds and diamonds and sapphires and 200 something rubies. When I hid my treasure chest, walking back to my car, I had this strange sensation. I asked myself out loud, I said, “Forrest did you really do that?” And I started laughing at myself out loud. There was nobody around, but in the back of my mind I told myself if I’m sorry later, I can go back and get it. But then the more I thought about it, it started evolving in my mind, I became really proud of myself. You know, once in awhile you do something that you’re really proud of. It hasn’t happened to me too many times. But I was really glad that I hid that treasure chest.
My wife doesn’t know within 18 months of when I hid that treasure chest. But the clues are there. They’re not easy to follow, but certainly not impossible.
WOLF: I have no doubt that it’s out there. I know that some people think that there’s no way that he could have done this or would have done this, and I think that people who believe that don’t understand, uh, what drives Forrest. He really, really is driven by wanting kids having the same sort of experiences today that he had growing up even though they’re growing up in a very different world. And so, he really wants kids to get out and bond with their families and go out and explore nature and get out there and experience the thrill of the chase.
FENN: We have a problem in this country with our youth today. We’re obese. Graffiti. Drive by shootings. Disrespect. The teenagers today are going to be our senators and presidents in the future, so what are we doing to prepare those people? And I’ve got to blame the churches. I blame school teachers. I certainly blame archeologists who have a wonderful thing to offer, but they’re so full of jargon and everybody has their thing going and we’re mostly oblivious of the problems that somebody else sees but it’s not my problem. That’s the attitude today, and I think that’s a terrible attitude. In a very small way, I was hoping to get kids off the couch, out of the game rooms, and away from their texting machines and out to smell the sunshine and see what’s going on out in the countryside.
MCGARRITY: I think that’s Forrest’s whole intention. Get their kids. Take them out, and show them the outdoors and have an adventure. It doesn’t matter if you find it. I’ve had some amazing times out in the mountains just looking for it.
WOLF: We have heard numerous times, “This is the first time we have taken a family vacation. All of us. This is the first time that we have all gone somewhere and spent this much time together.” And we hear that from the kids too. Like, “This is the first time we’ve ever gone anywhere with mom and dad and done what mom and dad are doing.” And that’s really powerful. Forrest loves to hear those stories. Frankly, there’s just as much chance of a six year old from Kansas finding it as there is somebody in Santa Fe who has been dedicating their months to figuring out the puzzle. And if they wander across it, they will find it.
FENN: Again let me say that I’m not thinking of something “Let’s go do it this afternoon.” I’m thinking about a thousand years from now. Nothing has happened that was not predictable. I’ve called 911 three times. They arrested a guy at my gate and put him in handcuffs last week. Took him off to jail. I’ve had death threats. You know, when you look at politicians they get death threats every day.
HOWARD: And you know you can’t guess what these people are going to do. And people get in their head, “It’s my treasure. I deserve it. I’m going to go get it.” That can be a little scary.
FENN: So I’ll be 83 years old on the 22nd of this month and I told a guy the other day if torture and death are the only two things that you can threaten me with you’re in trouble. I’ve been down the road a few miles you know? I don’t want to leave my wife with all of these things. The vultures would circle this house and so I’m selling some things now. I’m not tearing down my walls, but things that are laying down. I’m just trying to ease the pain for my heirs. I think over spring break in Santa Fe there were about 6,500 people in Santa Fe related to the treasure chest. And, this summer, before the summer is over I spent some time estimating. I think there will be 43,000 people looking for the treasure chest in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming.
MCGARRITY: On the one hand, it’s given an award for increasing tourism in the community right? I was walking in a shopping center just after the book came out and there was this huge 4x4 extended cab Dodge 350 Ram Charger. And in the back there was a 4 wheel drive all terrain vehicle. And this big Texan gets out. I know he was Texan because he had license plates from Texas. And he says, “Can you tell me how to find Forrest Fenn? I’m looking for Forrest Fenn. I’m here to look for that treasure.”
WOLF: We have met people from, probably, four continents and ten countries, who have come here. We have families, older people, young people, college kids who have come together. People who have started teams working on the puzzle. Crowdsourcing. Solutions to the puzzle, and then sending delegates out here to look.
HOWARD: I’ve run into people who’ve told me they spent their life savings coming out here. Literally coming from Florida one guy came. Spent at least $12,000 on airfare. That was his life savings. A lady come in from Mississippi. She was an old client and she said, “Well, when I find Forrest’s treasure,” she’s 40 pounds overweight, five years old than me and she’s rich and I say, “Okay, you go!” you know? “You go girl!” What the hell.
FENN: I’m right at 22,000 emails from people related to the treasure chest. They tell me where they are and where they’re going and want to know if they’re hot or cold. Thousands of emails from people that have said thanks to me for getting them out of the house. I had a man send me an email who said, “My brother - I had not spoken to my brother in 12 years. He called me on the phone and said let’s go look for the treasure chest”, and so they’re connected again. I see a lot of that - that kind of thing. It’s very rewarding, you know, it’s a by-product of something that I did. I’m the big winner in this thing, because I feel a sense of satisfaction.
WOLF: About the best one that I heard was a gentleman who said that if he found the treasure, he would give the bracelet back to Forrest and then he was going to re-hide the treasure somewhere else, and write his own book. And just kind of keep it going because he was having so much fun looking for it. And he’d been looking for it for six months and he kind of wanted to find it, but he kind of didn’t want that to end.
HOWARD: ...come to my shop, I had the guy from Florida that I mentioned came to my shop, and he brought me a detailed map. Layed out on a piece of cardboard. Told me what he was thinking. And said, “Will you go get this for me and split the treasure with me?” I said, “Look, that’s not my thing. I know where I want to go.” And he got offended and left.
MCGARRITY: You know, I really kind of wonder if some people have found it. My last adventure out, somebody had beaten me to it. To the spot. I had been there once before, but I was unprepared. And I came back, and waited for the weather to get warm, and went back. Somebody had left a message that they had been there already. Done in pink chalk. With a big X on a rock and said, “It is not here.” I think it’s a diversion because I still want to go back because there’s many many, uh, I can’t tell you where it’s at. People - somebody else already figured it out too, so whoever it was, we were both thinking and putting the clues, and that’s just interpreting the clues, which are so vague.
FENN: I’ve given clues to everybody. I’ve never given a clue to an individual. The first clue that I gave that wasn’t in my poem was because I made this guy mad and he demanded another clue. And I said, “The treasure chest is hidden more than 300 miles west of Toledo.” I don’t think he knew that I was pulling his leg. There was a guy out here someplace, dug a hole 18 inches deep and 9 inches wide and they arrested him.
FEMALE VOICEOVER: ...charges for digging near a descanso looking for Forrest Fenn’s box of gold and jewels.
FENN: Please tell me what’s going on here. Nine inches wide and eighteen inches deep and they arrested - all over the paper, they’re quoting the police officer that they’re going to prosecute this guy.
MCGARRITY: There are people saying, “Oh wait, wait, wait. He’s sending these people off to trample our wilderness.” What wilderness? Come on. About the only real wilderness we have, most people can’t get to. And that’s up in the Pecos which recently burned. You know, most of what we have in terms of national forest is not wilderness. But, “oh no, it’s going to send people out and they’re going to dig up, uh, plants and disturb the ground and be where they shouldn’t be.”
FENN: No matter what you do, somebody is not going to like it. There are always just disgruntled people. Somebody picks up an arrowhead worth $8.00. And they “stole that from the government.” So I guess the government is going to come and get them and arrest them. Too many PhD’s in government. Bureau of Land Management came in and searched my house four years ago. Somebody told them I had taken something out of a cave in Arizona that was on government land. Well it wasn’t on government land, it was private property. But, even if everything they said was true, the statute of limitations had run out 47 years ago. So four years passed, and I got a letter from them that absolved me of everything. That was the end of it. It builds character. I just wonder what I’m going to do with all this character.
MCGARRITY: And he’s very bright. There’s nothing at all about this man that doesn’t speak to how smart he is. He’s a curious guy. That curiosity has led him to a point in his life where he is extremely well off. Lives a beautiful lifestyle. He likes to tell stories. He likes to confound people. He likes to put little things out there that has folks guessing.
HOWARD: I’m not there to try to pry information out of him. That’s not to say I don’t look carefully at everything he has said to me, because, he’s that way. There could be something there. But I don’t ask him any specific questions, and he doesn’t volunteer any specific information. It wouldn’t be fair. He’s really interested in this being something that, where the playing field is pretty level for people. But it’s going to take somebody that’s intelligent, who looks at all these in different aspects, I think, to find it. I don’t think anybody’s going to stumble upon it.
MCGARRITY: This last spot that I’ve been in, I really feel like it’s there. I’ve already hit Forrest up; he denies it. But uh, you know, he tries to get me to go back to one of my first spots, and that’s a diversion, I know.
FENN: I still have about uh, something like, 4,000 arrowheads. And I tell people I’m saving those, because after the next war, I’ll make a fortune selling my arrowheads to different armies around the world. Einstein had said, “I don’t know what we’ll fight World War III with, but World War IV is going to be fought with sticks.” And the technology is changing so fast. I mean, if your computer is two years old, it’s archaic today. Technology is not going to help you find that treasure. But your mind and your body and your attitude changes as things change.
HOWARD: It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve been on top of some mountains and I’ve been in a lot of hot springs and when nobody’s there, that’s great I just take it all off and throw myself in and wait awhile. I’ve had Bighorn Sheep right near me. Bald Eagles fly right over my head. I’ve been up in the mountains for the first snowfall of the year, which at that point, in that place, was September 30.
FENN: The greatest thrill is going by yourself. You don’t know where the edge is unless you go out there and look for it.
HOWARD: I always bring something back. Generally speaking, it’s something I found along the way that interests me a feather, a mineral specimen, you know, an artifact that somebody lost long ago.
FENN: Yeah, I have some advice. Read the book. And then study the poem. Over and over. Read it over and over. Maybe even memorize it. And then go back and read the book again looking for hints that are in the book that are going to help you with the clues that are in the poem. That’s the best advice that I can give. You have to find out - you have to learn where the first clue is. They get progressively easier after you discover where the first clue is.
WOLF: Forrest has given some good advice. I mean, Forrest has told people to enjoy themselves, but not get into danger. Don’t get into trouble. Don’t go into places that a 79 year old man couldn’t get to carrying a 42 pound box. But, then again, you haven’t seen Forrest. He might not be your average 79 year old man.
HOWARD: One thing I need to tell people who think they’re going to go do this, you better be in shape. If you think that this guy at 79 was a pushover, you got another think coming.
MCGARRITY: You were asking me earlier about the reason, I was at a point in my life where I was ready for some adventure. And this was just perfect.
HOWARD: I mean I believe I know where it is. I just haven’t found the blaze. And that’s going to be the toughest part.
WOLF: I’ve seen a lot of stuff I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t been out there looking. And, while, a couple of times I thought, “Oh yeah, I got it. I know exactly where it is.” When I came back empty handed, I didn’t feel disappointed somehow. I came away with just more excitement about going out again.
MCGARRITY: Well Forrest contends that his real mission in life, when he wrote this book, was to get people up and off the couch and out doing something in the wild. Right? And I just roll my eyes. I said, come on. But he sticks to it. He sticks to his story.
WOLF: He is, um, passionate about adventure and he is passionate about sharing that love of adventure, and treasure seeking with other people. An American archetype if you will.
FENN: I think the thing that, as much as anything, is that first little arrowhead that I found when I was nine years old. I still have it, yeah, sure. My autobiography is in the treasure chest. I put it in a little olive jar. I rolled it up. Printed at Kinko’s. I have to use a magnifying glass if I want to read it. The olive jar had a metal lid. And metal will rust. It’s tin. And so I dipped it in hot wax to make it airtight and watertight. 10,000 years from now, that autobiography is going to be just like it is when I put it in there. There’s an old saying, “You can never go home.” How many encores can a person take? I mean, I’ve played my hand.
I don’t feel like I gave you anything.
INTERVIEWER: Oh I think we got plenty.
FENN: (reads poem)
|9621||2/1/2016||CBC - As It Happens # 2|
|Link: Click Here
JEFF DOUGLAS: It began as a good old fashioned treasure hunt. Several years ago, a wealthy antiques dealer by the name of Forrest Fenn stashed a 40 pound box of gold and jewelry somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. It is said to be worth $2,000,000. But now Mr. Fenn’s fun may have turned fatal. A Colorado man who was one of many who went into the wild to find that treasure has not been heard from for more than three weeks. We reached Forrest Fenn in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
CAROL OFF: Mr. Fenn can you tell us about this search that has been launched for this man Randy Bilyeu?
FORREST FENN: Well, it’s not a good story. He’s been lost in the Rio Grande River canyon west of Santa Fe. Today is the 25th day. And we’ve had as many as 50 people walking up and down those canyons and I’ve been in helicopters three days. It’s a pretty sad story. We’re still looking for the man, but we have three inches of snow on the ground here today and it’s still snowing.
OFF: When did you learn that he was missing?
FENN: Evidently, he went into the canyon on the 5th of January and I didn’t know he was lost until about the 11th. So we started late on our rescue efforts. State Police and the state search and rescue people did their searching and then they decided they didn’t have any more leads so they quit. And that's when we picked up the search. Our search people are people that have been looking for my treasure chest. But they all came together while this guy was lost. We had people come in as far away as Vermont to New Mexico to look for this guy.
OFF: Let’s talk about your treasure chest because that’s what’s really at the heart of this isn’t it? What was Randy Bilyeu doing out there?
FENN: Randy was in that canyon looking for that treasure chest that I hid in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe.
OFF: And we’ve talked to you about that before. Remind people about that treasure and why you hid it there.
FENN: Well that’s a long story. You really need to read my book, “The Thrill of The Chase” in order to get - but I’ll tell you the quick answer. In 1988 I was diagnosed with what everybody thought was terminal cancer. I lost a kidney and my doctor told me I had a 20% chance of living three years. That’s when I decided I would start gathering up some valuable things and putting them in a beautiful little treasure chest and hide them someplace. I’ve had so much fun over the years looking and collecting things that I thought why not let somebody else have same thrills that I’ve had all these years?
OFF: Uh-huh, and so this - we talked to you about this - this is a hidden treasure you hid in the Rocky Mountains worth about $2,000,000. All kinds of people have been out looking for it, right?
FENN: That’s right, but I’ve never said what it was worth. I’ve never had it appraised. But it has 265 American Eagles and Double Eagle coins, and it has hundreds of gold nuggets. Some of them as large as chicken eggs. And it has two hundred sixty some rubies and there’s diamonds and eight emeralds and two Ceylon sapphires and pre-Columbian gold and jade figures. It’s a wonderful treasure chest full of good things.
OFF: Your understanding is that Randy was out searching for the treasure when he went missing?
FENN: That’s my understanding, yes. There are a lot of mysteries involved in this so I can’t speak with any authority on exactly what he was doing or where he was.
OFF: Do you feel any guilt for encouraging people to venture out into remote, dangerous areas looking for your treasure, like Randy?
FENN: No. Nobody is responsible for what this man did but himself.
OFF: Uh-huh, but he went out looking for the treasure you put there, so how are you feeling about that?
FENN: Well I’m - anytime somebody gets their kids off the couch and game room and away from the texting machines and going into the Rocky Mountains looking for my treasure I’m tickled to death with that. It’s sad when somebody gets lost. But I’ve said over and over you should not look for my treasure in the winter time. You know the winter mountains are not your friend when there’s snow and ice on the ground. I don’t know what else I can say.
OFF: Well I’m sure you’ve heard that since you put that treasure there, there have been other people with not enough experience perhaps were out. A woman got caught in the dark in, when she was out looking for it. There have been others who have had to be rescued by rangers and and some people damaged some sensitive archeological sites looking for your treasure. Does any of that give you pause?
FENN: What you say is true, but how many people have been lost in the mountains hunting for deer and elk over the years? I mean if somebody gets lost in the mountains looking for - while they’re hunting, does that mean we should stop hunting?
OFF: So you - are you going to call off the treasure hunt?
FENN: No, I will not call off the treasure hunt. 65,000 people have had wonderful experiences in the mountains looking for my treasure and I get 120 emails a day from people that thank me for hiding that treasure and I got an email from one man who said he had not spoken with his brother for 17 years but they called - he called his brother and now they’re out looking for the treasure. I mean that’s very rewarding to me. Occasionally, someone gets lost and I’m very sad about that. It’s unfortunate. But you should not be looking for my treasure in the wintertime.
OFF: Well now the treasure hunters are out looking for Randy is that right?
OFF: And so what chances are do you think they’ll find him alive?
FENN: You know, I can’t predict the future and I don’t know what the odds are. We’re not going to give up looking for him.
OFF: But if it does turn out that Randy did not survive this, it won’t change anything for you.
FENN: I’m not going to speculate on that and I don’t even want to think about it.
OFF: Alright Mr. Fenn thanks for speaking with us.
|9656||5/13/2011||Report From Santa Fe with Lorene Mills - 1st Appearance|
|Link: Click Here
LORENE MILLS: Hello, I’m Lorene Mills and welcome to The Report from Santa Fe. Our guest today is Forrest Fenn. Thank you for joining us.
FORREST FENN: My pleasure
MILLS: Many know you of course as the owner of one of Santa Fe’s finest art galleries for years and years, but you’ve also written a wonderful book - wonderful in many ways that we’ll explore. But I just want to hold it up now. It’s called “The Thrill of The Chase - A Memoir” and it’s dedicated to anyone who loves the thrill of the chase. So welcome to the show.
FENN: Thank you, I’m pleased to be here.
MILLS: Well, I want to talk a little about your background, because you bring some really unusual experiences to you work. You were 20 years a fighter pilot with the US Air Force you fought - you flew 328 combat missions in Vietnam?
FENN: Yes ma’am.
MILLS: And you lived to tell the tale. Thank you! And then you came to Santa Fe after you retired from the military, and you started an art gallery. And you said, at that time, you’d never studied art, you didn’t own an art painting, uh, a painting, and you didn’t know anybody who did. So what made you choose…?
FENN: Well, uh, I had a bad tour in Vietnam. I was shot down twice and I lost 22 pounds and didn’t even know it. And I worked almost every hour of every day, it seemed like. And when I came home, I was just worn out. And Santa Fe was the only place that I knew where I could wear hush puppies and a short sleeve shirt and maybe make a living. And Santa Fe is an artsy town, so that’s what I had to do. And I came to the right place at the right time with the right product and the art business was good to me, and Santa Fe’s been good to me.
MILLS: Well your gallery was so special, it was The Fenn Gallery right on Paseo de Peralta, it was first of all a beautiful building with beautiful gardens and a pond in the back and you had the finest caliber of art. You had the great masters, but you also had something that was very different from any other gallery because you had signs that said, “Please Touch” and why did you do that when everyone else is guarding you and standing in between you and the art so you can’t even experience it?
FENN: I told this story in my book. I went into the Kachina Gallery when I first came to Santa Fe. They sold nothing but Kachinas and they were just stacked everywhere and the little signs around said, “If you touch it, you bought it”, “You are responsible for your kids”, “Do not touch” and it scared me so bad that I put my hands in my pockets and tried to get out. But I started thinking, you know, I need to learn something from that. So I went back to my gallery and made about 15 little signs that said, “Please touch, I am responsible.” The theory is: how can someone buy a great item if they’re not allowed to touch it?
MILLS: Yeah, yeah. You also tell the story in your book about you had one of the most famous portraits of George Washington, and a school group came in.
FENN: That’s right.
MILLS: And you actually had each child come up and touch one of America’s greatest portraits of our first president.
FENN: We had each child wash their hands real good, and I told them not to push, not to scrape, not to use your fingernails, but just gently touch George Washington and close your eyes and think. Because when that portrait was painted, Gilbert Stewart painted it sitting as close as you and I are together with George Washington. So if you can touch that painting in some small way, you may make a connection with those two people. It’s worked for me. People collect autographs for the same reason. It’s the connection that they like. And I feel sorry for people that don’t have that depth of imagination.
MILLS: Yeah. Yes. Because one of our favorite mutual quotes is that Albert Einstein quote, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
FENN: That’s Einstein.
FENN: And I believe it.
MILLS: I do too. I do too. But I want to mention one other thing that was unique about your gallery and about autographs, because you have these exquisite guest houses sited on the property around the pond. Tell us some of the guests that have stayed there.
FENN: Oh gee. You know when I built that big guesthouse, my accountants in LA told me it was the dumbest thing that I ever did. And about two years later, he called me on the phone and said you paid for that thing four times a year. It’s the smartest thing you ever did. But we had Jackie Kennedy and President Ford and endless movie stars: Robert Redford and John Connelly was a frequent guest. And I have a guest register. You know, I had them sign the guest register and make a doodle. And it’s wonderful. I’ve saved all those things.
MILLS: You said that Cher in particular had this wonderful -
FENN: Cher had a flair, and we were sitting by the fireplace in the guest house and one of her boyfriends was with her and he was, I think, her manager. And she was in town to be on a live award show in Albuquerque and the rest of the show walked in and well what’s Chere supposed to do with - at the show tonight? Cher said, “I’ll wing it.” She didn’t want to know what he wanted, she’ll just do it here way. And, you know, that’s the way she was and she signed her name the same way.
MILLS: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
FENN: And I think that’s her personality. That’s a metaphor for who Cher is. She can do anything.
MILLS: Yeah, um, you’ve always been a collector which manifested itself in the art collection at the gallery, but in your book you talk about how your father - you used to collect soda pop caps.
FENN: Soda pop caps.
MILLS: And you had, because each one was from a bottle that had drunk, but tell us what your father did to change your attitude toward that collection.
FENN: Well, you know I learned a lot from him. And he was subtle in some of the things he did. I had probably a hundred cap, bottle caps, and you know how kids are. They’re on the floor, they’re on the radio, they’re on his desk, and he decided to cure me one day. So we were in all the gas stations that sold pop and collected all their caps in a huge box. It came home at night and had me - must have been several thousand bottle caps. Absolutely ruined me. I mean how can you continue to collect bottle caps if it looks like you have all of them that were made already? Within an hour I had lost interest in all those.
MILLS: But you never lost interest in collecting, and the thrill of the chase.
FENN: Yes, the thrill of the chase.
MILLS: And so, I want to talk about your book, “The Thrill of the Chase” and what - it’s a memoir so you have wonderful stories about your life. I think really it’s a fabulous read. But you also have a treasure hunt, and one of the reasons I wanted to do the show is to talk - have you talk about the treasure hunt that you’ve set out and why you are doing it.
FENN: You know there’s a good quote in the new Duveen book and it says, “They never knew it was the chase they sought, and not the quarry.” Isn’t that interesting?
MILLS: Ahhhh, yes.
FENN: In the art business I loved to find a great painting. But there was a let down after I found it because the chase was over. Anybody can sell a great painting, but not everybody can find one. So the thrill was in the chase, and I loved that. Still do.
MILLS: So, at this time, as we speak, you have buried - is it buried? You have placed a treasure somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe
FENN: That’s right.
MILLS: And it is in an 11th century box, at least describe the treasure chest.
FENN: It’s in an 11th century Romanesque bible box, or a box of letters, and it’s a beautiful box. I gave a fortune for that thing, but I loved it so much. And then, when I got sick in 1988, they took a kidney out and they found a big cancerous tumor under the kidney. They gave me a 20% chance of living three years. And, you know, that’ll open your eyes, and makes you start thinking about mortality. And finally after a couple of weeks, after that soaked in, one night, about three o’clock, I told myself if I’ve got to go, I’m just going to take it with me. And that’s when I got the box and started filling it up with what I call were precious things. There are 20.2 Troy pounds of gold in that chest and lots of jewelry, bracelets, necklaces, diamonds, emeralds, rubies.
MILLS: And, to be a little more specific, there’s a bracelet that has 246 rubies and emeralds and diamonds. And a Spanish 17th century gold ring with a big emerald in it?
FENN: I bought that bracelet from Eric Sloane. He had given it to his wife, and she didn’t like it. So I bought it from him.
MILLS: And gold coins and gold nuggets, some of which weigh a pound?
FENN: There are two gold nuggets in there that weigh more than a pound apiece. Placer nuggets from Alaska. And 225 gold coins.
MILLS: And gold frogs from Costa Rica? Panama? Pre-Columbian?
FENN: Pre-Columbian things that date from the 7th to 12th century.
MILLS: These are truly treasures. You put them all in this beautiful treasure chest.
FENN: What I told myself was, that when I was building this thing was, you know, I’m 80 years old so, you know, the handwriting is on the wall. But I told myself I’ve had so much fun over the decades - six decades - collecting these things… Now if I’ve got to go, why not let somebody else have the same kind of fun that I have had. And that’s why I wrote the poem that’s in my book. There are nine clues in that poem. If you can follow the clues to the chest, you can have it, and the poem says that.
MILLS: And all we know is that we can’t even geographically make it any - narrow it down any more?
FENN: People are always asking me that question. The other day I said…
MILLS: Just a hundred square miles?
FENN: I’ll give you a clue for your readers. The chest is more than 300 miles west of Toledo.
MILLS: Okay (laughing).
FENN: And it’s not in Nevada, so. Those are big clues.
MILLS: Okay then. Well, and we want people to have the thrill of the chase.
FENN: I’ve got a friend here in town that’s been out looking for it nine different days. He owns a shop here. He only gets off on Sunday but he heads out.
FENN: I don’t think he’s found it yet. He hasn’t told me.
MILLS: That’s what I want to know. How will we know if somebody finds it? Will you let - make an announcement?
FENN: Depends on the person. The person that finds it may not want the IRS to know it.
MILLS: Oh that’s true.
FENN: In which case, I’ll never know it probably.
MILLS: Finders keepers. Yeah, yeah.
FENN: But the kind of person that would go out and find it is the same kind of person that can’t keep it quiet.
MILLS: Yeah. Yeah.
FENN: He’s like me. You know, he’s got to broadcast it.
MILLS: Now does anybody else, besides you, know where this is?
MILLS: Because you had said, in one of your lines from the book is that, “Two people can keep a secret as long as one of them is dead.”
FENN: That’s an old mafia saying.
MILLS: Yeah, well, um, I think it’s wonderful. I’ve read the poem. I could only determine one clue, so I doubt I’m going to be the person that finds the treasure chest.
FENN: Well don’t give up. It’s the thrill of the chase.
MILLS: It is the thrill of the chase. But another thing that you’ve done that I find so moving is that you have had these bronze bells created. Beautiful bells, and the clanger, the clapper is a 17th century Spanish nail. Tell us about those beautiful bells.
FENN: I make bells out of wax. And around the edges I write different things. And then, I’m burying them with my name and the date. I really don’t want anyone to find them for 1,000 or 10,000 years. The Rosetta Stone was buried for 2,000 years before it was found. Don’t you know that guy is proud today?
MILLS: Yeah, and you say on one of the bells, you say, um, “If you find this a thousand years after my death, ring this bell…”
FENN: “So I will know.”
MILLS: “So I will know.”
FENN: I think that’s pretty good.
MILLS: And you’re burying them deep so
FENN: Well I’m burying them deep enough so that normally a metal detector won’t find them - three to three and a half feet deep. Most metal detectors only - although the bells, you know, they weigh, three, four, five, six pounds apiece. So, you know, technology being what it is - somebody will find those bells. But if somebody finds them in 200 years, that’s okay.
MILLS: Yeah, yeah. I love that you have looked at this issue of permanence and impermanence and what do we have of our life. In your book, you describe this jungle clearing you had flown over with a waterfall. You always wanted to go, so as you were leaving, I think it was in Laos, right?
MILLS: You, you stopped in there. You came in a helicopter to look around.
FENN: Well I felt like I owed it to that gravemarker. The gravemarker said, “If you should ever think of me when I have passed this vell, and wish to please my ghost, forgive a sinner and smile at a homely girl.” But I didn’t know that. I didn’t find that till after I went down there. I was shot down the day before. Picked up, taken to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand in a helicopter and flew back to Tuy Hoa, Vietnam where I was stationed. Then I talked an Army buddy into, who had a helicopter, take me out there. It was very moving. It changed my life, and I talk about that at some length in my book.
MILLS: And that’s what I really love the issues that you bring up because what do we have that - what do we leave behind? As long as they say someone remembers us and says a prayer for us we live that long but that’s just a couple of generations.
FENN: Your listeners will say, some of them will say, well you know I don’t have anything to leave behind. But they do. They need to write their memoirs. Even if they write it out in pencil and paper. Send it to the Library of Congress. Date it and sign your name. And put everything you know about yourself in that. Because in a hundred or 500 years from now, that’s going to be an important document.
MILLS: Yeah, well look at the stuff from medieval times. What they had for breakfast.
FENN: That’s right. We all have so much to offer.
MILLS: Um, you say, can you repeat what you’ve chosen to be your epitaph? Um, “I wish I could have lived to do the things I was attributed to.”
FENN: Well, I’ve been accused of some pretty serious things in my lifetime. Sometimes there’s a little smoke, sometimes there’s not. I wish I could have done all the things that people accused me of doing. I would have lived a much better -
MILLS: Many more lives.
FENN: Yeah, much more fun.
MILLS: Yeah. Um, I want to come back to the gallery for a minute because you’ve raised some very interesting issues. I have been a follower of a man named Elmyr De Hory who was the best art forger in the world. And he even forged the, um, Howard Hughes manuscript that - it’s a very big case in history and his work
FENN: Clifford Irving.
MILLS: Clifford Irving. Yeah. And so, uh, you would sell, you and former Governor John Connelly of Texas, bought a bunch of Elmyr De Hory’s and you would sell them. And, he never signed his work. And he did, not copies of masters but pastiches.
FENN: In the style of
MILLS: In the style of.
FENN: If he copied one, then he would be found out. His were actually forgeries. And he said that all the great American museums have his paintings and don’t know it.
MILLS: Well, you, they’re called “masterfleeces” and from the 80’s on this has been a big thing in the art world. But you had said some really interesting things. “If they’re as good as real, if they look as good as real, then what are we talking about? What is art?” And I had read that you had said that people would see one of these paintings and fall in love with it. And then when they found out it wasn’t the real thing, they would just be, you know, they wouldn’t want it. And you’d say, “You loved it when you saw it. You stopped loving it as soon as you knew there was no signature. Who’s the fake here? The painting on the wall, or you?”
FENN: That’s right. So, when I was a kid, I started making rules. When something significant would happen to me, I’d make a rule. And always the first rule, when I sold my gallery I had a 109 rules. Number one on the list was this: It doesn’t matter who you are. It only matters who they think you are. That’s how Andy Warhol got there. That’s how Nieman-Marcus got there and I could go on and on.
MILLS: Well I’m going to finish that quote for you because then you say, “It’s true in Hollywood, it’s true in politics, and it’s true with the painting. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s who they think you are.” That’s a good first rule.
FENN: Well, a salesman - it doesn’t matter how good that aluminum pan is. It only matters how good he can make you think it is. If he can make you think it’s really great, he can sell it to you. I said also in my book that no sales person has ever been accused of understating. And I believe that.
FENN: We’re all charlatans to some degree, you know, about ourselves. You know, I thought that one time that women are fakes themselves. They wear lipstick, and mascara. They’re misrepresenting the product.
MILLS: Well there’s an art to that, Forrest.
FENN: (laughing) That’s right.
MILLS: There is an art to that.
FENN: Propagates the thrill of the chase.
MILLS: Yes, exactly. Exactly. But, um, the whole thing about what is real art, and what is fake art, and forgeries, one of my favorite aspects of your other line of business, which is Native American artifacts is the coyote trickster who lies to bring you the truth. So if you ultimately arrive at the truth, does it matter how you got there?
FENN: Which, all societies have had “fetishes.” You know they’re called different things, but with American Indians, there are a lot of different fetishes. And, the fetish is not worth anything unless you believe in it. But if you believe in it, it can be awesome.
MILLS: Yeah, yeah.
FENN: The most primitive tribes, even in New Guinea and the Amazon jungle, they all have fetishes of one kind or another. Very important. And all religions today have fetishes. They don’t call them that, but that’s what they are. It’s important that we believe.
MILLS: And my academic work was in shamanism, so if you’re in the Amazon, and the sorcerer, the medicine man comes around, plays his rattle and chants and then pulls a feather out of your ear, saying the enemy sorcerer put it there, and you are well, does it matter whether it is objectively true or not if you are well?
FENN: It doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters what you think it is. And what it can do for you. And what you can offer with it. Very important.
MILLS: So you had a, quite a Native American collection? In the gallery?
FENN: I collected things, yes.
MILLS: Yeah. Tell us what your favorites were. I know that there’s a couple of items of world class that you have.
FENN: Well, I started collecting arrowheads because I didn’t have any money and my father would take me out and we’d walk the river bottoms and across plowed fields and pick up arrowheads and scrapers and different things and uh, wonderful experience. That was my first love and still is. And I still have my collection of arrowheads. The first arrowhead I ever found is probably my most cherished object. Because I picked it up, and my father saw me do it, and he saw the expression on my face when I decided that was an arrowhead and I was nine years old. And he told me every year until he died it was one of his thrills to look at me and see that I had such a satisfied look on my face. Contentment is the key word. If you can go through this life being contented, then there’s nothing better than that.
MILLS: Well, and how luck you were that you had a dad that was that perceptive to you.
FENN: We have a problem in this country today with our youth and part of the problem is that fathers are not taking their sons and daughters out to not only collect arrowheads but fishing and hunting and hiking and picking up rocks or - and explaining geology and biology and those things. It’s very important and we’re - everyone is remiss today because of that. And our future could look better if we’d shape up some.
MILLS: I’d like to go down the Native American path a little bit more. Tell me, one of your books is called, “The Secret of San Lazaro Pueblo.”
FENN: “The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo.”
FENN: It’s a book I wrote about things that I excavated at a pueblo that I own called San Lazaro. It was first inhabited about 1150 A.D. and everybody left at the revolt in 1680. But there’s about 5,000 rooms out there. And I’ve dug right at 1% of the rooms and this book illustrates all the great things that we’ve excavated out there.
MILLS: Well there are archeologists who say that you’ve really done an impeccable job of cataloging everything
FENN: There are archeologists that don’t like me because I don’t have a PhD, and I don’t work exactly like they do.
MILLS: And you don’t give them what you find. That’s one of the reasons they don’t like you. They would like to have those treasures.
FENN: What would they do with it? Put it in a basement in a box and nobody would ever see it again.
MILLS: Well, you know, that’s uh, Craig Childs, who wrote “Finders Keepers” has this question, “Who owns the past?”
FENN: That’s an interesting question. You want me to answer it?
FENN: The guy that has the title.
FENN: He’s the one that owns the past.
MILLS: But you know, he describes himself - he spent so much time in the wilderness. And he found this one place where every burial tomb of these people was looted and he went, and he talks about this, and he went and stole a little broken pot back so that he could bury it with the spirits of those people. At some risk to himself, because he felt that was the right thing to do. And then said, wait a minute, I’m doing what I accuse everybody else of doing. Everyone else is doing what they think is right about these things. It’s a very interesting area.
FENN: It’s called finders remorse.
MILLS: Ahhh. Yeah, um, one of the objects that you own, if you could speak about it is Sitting Bull’s pipe. The very one in all the photographs. The very one. And you often say that it’s not always so much the object but story of the object.
FENN: Well, this man offered me, what he called was Sitting Bull’s pipe. It’s a beautiful pipe, but not special really. And it came with a picture of Sitting Bull holding a pipe that looked like the one that he was offering me. So I said, leave the pipe with me overnight so I can do some forensics on it and I’ll show you that it’s not the same pipe. So my daughter and I got on the computer and took pictures and blew them up. I saw grain in the wood and the stem on this pipe and we looked around at the picture. By golly, we start turning that thing around and made the picture transparent, put it on the one of Sitting Bull holding the pipe, and it was exactly. I mean, it had to be the same pipe. I mean, I was startled. You know, I’ve been offered so many things. I was offered a knife that killed Caesar. It came with a notarized letter.
MILLS: Well who’s - (laughing) And was it?
FENN: You’re easy!
MILLS: I know! And you researched it and of course, it was not?
FENN: I didn’t even research it.
MILLS: Another story you tell in yoru book is where you got the nails that you put in these bells that it was in Wyoming. Someone was - had the complete - they’d found the ruins of a conquistador protruding from an arroyo. They had the horse, the bones, all the accoutrements.
FENN: These were brass tacks, and this guy drove into the little town of Meeteetse, Wyoming. It was 35, 40… I hate to tell you how old I am, but it was a long time ago and I was getting some gas and this pickup truck pulled in there. A couple of guys got out, really excited. And in a minute there was 5 or 6 people standing around really excited and I walked over there and there was a horse skeleton, and a human skeleton in the back of this pickup truck and an old bridle. And I forget now what it was, but chainmail and this thing was a 16th or 17th century Spanish - I hate to say conquistador, but certainly an explorer. And this rancher had found it eroding out of an arroyo on his land.
MILLS: And you took the tacks
FENN: Well, they took the thing inside the building there, an old abandoned house. And I looked in the pickup truck and there were a bunch of brass tacks out of the horse gear that had fallen out and were laying in the pickup truck and I asked the guy that owned it if - I said, “If I jump in there and pick those things up, can I have them?” He said, “Yes, we have enough.” And I still have those things.
MILLS: Well, to me, again, it’s the story almost as value as much as the actual tacks. And so because we’re almost out of time, I want to ask you what is the thrill of the chase for you now? You do wonderful writing, you have a blog, you - I enjoy your reading and want you to keep on writing, but what else gives you the thrill of the chase?
FENN: You know, if you sit down, you start to decompose. And I don’t want to do that. I mean there are so many things that I want to do. So many things that I don’t want to be laying on my deathbed and say, sheesh I wish I had winked at that little girl in Peoria, you know 67 years ago and there’s so many good things to do. We spend too much time resting.
MILLS: Yeah, you rest you rest. Yes. Um, one more thing. Can you tell our people about the treasure hunt? And where to find the clues and
FENN: Well in my book there’s a poem, like I said. And there are nine clues in the poem. And the clues are in consecutive order. If you can read that - if you want to find the treasure chest, you have my book there, I’ll tell you how to do it. Read the book just normally. The poem, and the rest of the book. And then go back and read the poem 6, 8, 10 times. Study every line. Every word. Then after you do that, read the book again slowly with the idea of looking for clues or hints that are in the book that will help you follow the clues. You can find the chest with just the clues, but there are hints in the book that will help you with the clues.
MILLS: Again, the book is, “The Thrill of The Chase” and let’s just say a word about the proceeds from for this. You are not doing the treasure hunt to sell books. You actually have a very kind and charitable arrangement.
FENN: I didn’t want people to say that I did it - that the treasure chest was a gimmick to sell the book. So I’ve given all the books to the Collected Works Bookstore here in town.
MILLS: In Santa Fe.
FENN: All that they can sell, they can have for free. And they’ve - they’re putting in a fund, 10% of the gross from the sale of these books and when we get enough money we’re gonna, we’re gonna buy a cancer operation for some little kid that can’t afford it. That’s one of our goals. And we have people donating money to us just for that fund.
MILLS: Well it has been a thrill, thrill of the chase, to actually sit down and interview you.
FENN: Well thank you. You’ve done your homework on this thing. I didn’t - finally I found somebody that read my book.
MILLS: I read every bit of it and I loved it, so.
FENN: Well you’re a sweetheart. Thank you.
MILLS: Our guest today is Forrest Fenn. Thank you for joining us.
FENN: My pleasure.
MILLS: And I’m Lorene Mills. I wish you all the thrill of the chase. This is Report from Santa Fe and we’ll see you next week.
|9663||11/3/2012||Report from Santa Fe with Lorene Mills - 2nd Appearance|
|Link: Click Here
LORENE MILLS: Hello. I’m Lorene Mills and welcome to the Report from Santa Fe. Our guest today is (gesturing) Forrest Fenn. Thank you for joining us.
FORREST FENN: Why do you say (gesturing) Forrest Fenn?
MILLS: Because I want you to take it (gesturing) Forrest! We are celebrating the fact that, just this month, you were at the Governor’s Mansion and The New Mexico Department of Agriculture, awarded you the Rounders Award. You and another wonderful writer, Slim Randles, got the 2012 Rounders Award. The Rounders Award was based on Max Evans’ book, now it’s over 50 years since he wrote this wonderful book which became an iconic movie. And so they named the Rounders Award after Max’s book, and he got the first Rounders Award. Tell me about what this means to you. What does being a Rounder mean to you?
FENN: They say on their website that the Rounders Award goes to someone who promotes and articulates the Western Way. But let me back up just a minute. I read Max Evans’ biography of Long John Dunne of Taos. And I was fascinated by the guy. The way that he could write; put words together in a sentence that I had not seen before. And so I was down at Collected Works bookstore and I said I would have really liked to have known this Max Evans because he sounds like my kind of guy. Dorothy Massey says, “Well, call him on the phone.” I said, “Is that guy still alive? He must be 500 years old.” She said, “No, he’s like 86 or something.” So I call Max on the phone. I said, “Max, I want to come down and interview you.” And he knew who I was because of my gallery. He said, “Well, come on down here.” And so I read Slim Randles biography of Max Evans.
MILLS: And it’s called “Old Max Evans, The First Thousand Years.”
FENN: Well I knocked on Max’s door and he opened it and I said, “Max Evans, I’m scared to death of you after reading what Slim Randles said about you: smuggling, and fist fights in bars and deals and things and boy. He put his arm around me and said, “Come on in we’re going to get along just fine.” I interviewed him, taped interviews, four hours, two different times. I have eight hours of him on tape. As a matter of fact, he told me who murdered Arthur Rochford Manby in Taos. It’s an unsolved murder. I’m writing a book called “Closet Stories of Taos.” It’s about the characters in Taos and the artists, but it isn’t an art book. But I’m going to solve that murder.
MILLS: Well, excellent. Excellent. Now, Max himself says being called a Rounder is not necessarily a compliment. He defines a Rounder as someone who is working the ranch, out in the countryside way too long. Finally comes to town and has more fun than he should. So, have you been having more fun than you should?
FENN: You know, I’m reminded of the word “rake.” You know what a rake is? A rake is somebody who is halfway between a scoundrel and a good guy. Errol Flynn was a rake.
FENN: So I think Max and I fit in that category somewhere.
MILLS: I think the two of you do, and you’re two of my favorite people. Max is my favorite New Mexican writer. And when he celebrated the 50th anniversary of “The Rounders”, he had a novel out called “War and Music”. And he’s still writing. He’s got two new books to come out, but I’m not going to mention them, they’re a surprise. But, when I asked about the - you wrote him a letter and you said - well, tell us what you said when you asked whether you deserved the Rounders Award or not.
FENN: Well I know that Max’s fingerprints were all over that award for me. And I wrote him a letter thanking him, and I said, “I’m not sure I deserve this award, but I had cancer and I know I didn’t deserve that.” Max is not gold-plated, he is solid gold. I mean if there was anybody that articulated the way the west should be, and that’s Max Evans. To me, the West has always been good. But Max personifies the best of it, I think.
MILLS: I think so too. But you, I want to just look at some of your western works. Because that is why you got this award. This is a beautiful book you wrote about San Lazaro Pueblo. “The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo.”
FENN: Can I say something about that?
MILLS: Yes, please.
FENN: When I wrote that book, I was in a mood. I was mad at writers and publishers because they - you know why you put a dust jacket on a book? In the old days, you didn’t have a dust jacket. You put a dust jacket on a book to hide an ugly cover. Why don’t you have a great cover? The original purpose was to buy a book with a dust jacket on it. Take it home. Take the dust jacket off and throw it away and put the book on the shelf. That was the original thinking. So you wouldn’t damage your book before you get it home. But, when I wrote that book, I decided that - I have a number of books that great old covers. Polychrome colors. And I said, I’m not going to have a dust jacket on this book. The guy that was going to print my book said, “Well you can’t sell it if you don’t have a dust jacket.” And I said, “Well then I’ll just give it away.” But I went to a printer in Phoenix and I said, “I want this book printed on linen - the cover on linen.” He said, “We can’t print on linen.” I said, “Well then I’m out of here.” He said, “Wait just a minute, let us try it.” They had never tried it, but they had some linen. They ran it through and - hold that book up again. The cover of that book - there’s a painting of two prehistoric kachina dance masks that I excavated in San Lazaro Pueblo and the watercolor drawing on the front of that is by Jim Asher who lives here in Santa Fe. Great artist. He painted that for me.
MILLS: Well, um, thank you for that. I didn’t that. I’m going to quickly -
FENN: I told you more than you wanted to know about that
MILLS: No, no. I’m delighted to know that. I just wanted to show some of the other books that are part of your western, uh, oeuvre, because it’s one of the reasons why you got the Rounders Award. This is “Historic American Indian Dolls.” You have quite an incredible collection of them, and you write all about them. And then, in your position as a gallery owner, we’ll get to that in a minute, you have written about some of your favorite western artists. This one I love. Tell me about this book. Tell me about the title - it’s about Eric Sloane, the artist.
FENN: Eric Sloane was probably my best friend. You say Western Art, he painted New Mexico a lot, but he - a lot of his paintings are New England barns and covered bridges like on the cover. Eric was the most talented man that I ever knew. He could paint a major painting in a day. Like in four or five hours. Go to lunch with me, go to dinner with his wife that night and in 50 years, write 50 books. He knew everybody: Neil Armstrong, he sold a painting to Amelia Earhart. He knew Jimmy Doolittle. He had letters that came from James Cagney to him. I mean, it’s endless. The guy had so much talent.
MILS: And one other book, and then we’ll get back to your gallery. This is “The Beat of The Drum and the Whoop of The Dance” and it’s about…
FENN: Joseph Henry Sharp. I bought his estate nineteen years ago. I wrote that book in 1982. It was really the first book I ever wrote and I didn’t know how to write a book so I got a bunch of yellow pads and pencils and I’m writing about Joseph Sharp. I had 35 three by five inch cards that I had made notes on for a few years. But I was so new to writing, I started writing this biography, and when I made a mistake, I would erase that word instead of marking through it and keep going. I was determined not to have a computer. I later learned the folly of that decision. But the book went out of print, after, uh, too long of time. And I revised it, changed all the color plates, and had Clark Hewlings write the Foreword for me. And the new edition of that is the “Tipi Smoke.:
MILLS: Yes, yes, yes. Well, um, I want to talk a little bit about your background because you were 20 years, you were an Air Force fighter pilot. You flew 328 combat missions in Vietnam? And then, when you left the Air Force, you came to Santa Fe and opened a gallery but you said you had never studied art, never owned a painting, or new anybody who did.
FENN: Lorene, I had a bad tour in Vietnam. I was shot down twice. I was missing in action in Laos, wondering what my future was, and I sat there wondering all night long. I told myself, “You know, there has to be something better than this.”
MILLS: Yeah, really.
FENN: I had already been shot down once, this was the second time. I had been to Santa Fe before, and I told myself, when I retired from the Air Force after 20 years, I had to drive about eight miles to get to my home in Lubbock, TX. I got about halfway home and a weird feeling came over me. I stopped my little Volkswagon Bug along the road there, climbed through a barbed wire fence out into a cotton field. Couple of hundred yards out there. I took my watch off and I threw it just as far as I could throw it. And I had a little calendar in my wallet. I took that out and I shredded it and I spread it to the four winds. I said, “Forrest Fenn, you’ll never get up before daylight again, and you’ll never go to bed before dark.” And I haven’t done that. Those are two promises I made to myself.
FENN: In the Air Force, you know, you’re always going on alert, sometimes four o’clock. Working 15-16 hour days. But Santa Fe was the only place that I knew where the bus would stop and let me out. I could wear Hush Puppies and blue jeans. I had a gallery here for 17 years, and this is how I dressed. Blue jeans and Hush Puppies.
MILLS: Your gallery was really unique. You specialized not only in Indian art, uh Western art and artifacts, but Impressionists. The caliber of your art, now this was the famous Fenn Gallery, and you sold it, but for years, seventeen years you had the most unique and best gallery in Santa Fe.
FENN: You know how a gallery gets to be famous?
FENN: Advertise full page color.
FENN: Galleries that advertise half page black and white or quarter page black and white in big letters across the front it says to me, “Don’t Come In Here.” If you advertise full page color, they think you’re an expert. And it doesn't’ matter who you are, Lorene, it only matters who they think you are.
MILLS: Well, that’s true. As a matter of fact, you had said at one point that your, uh, epitaph might be, “I wish I could have lived to do, all the things I was attributed to.”
FENN: I’ve been attributed to a few things.
MILLS: You certainly have. You certainly have. You had a pond, a beautiful pond, at the gallery. You had an inhabitant named after a famous Anglo-Saxon: Beowulf.
FENN: Beowulf. I like to have water around me. I built the pond down at my gallery out behind. And when I sold my gallery and moved out to the Old Santa Fe Trail, I built another pond. I get over a thousand gallons of water a minute over my waterfall and it’s 11 feet deep. But at the gallery I had an alligator called Beowulf. Can I tell you a story about Gary Carruthers? He was running for Governor. Staying in one of my guest houses there, and we were having a fundraiser out there, and he was standing on a rock with his back to my pond. My pond is one foot behind him. And a hundred or so people out there, telling everybody how good he is, and what a great Governor he’s going to make. And Beowulf thought it was me talking and calling him to dinner.
FENN: So clear across the pond, 60 to 70 feet, here comes Beowulf. The crowd can see Beowulf, the Governor can’t. So Beowulf came right up the the rear end of Gary Carruthers and opened his mouth like that and the crowd went wild. And Governor Carruthers thought he was making a good impression on these people. But then he saw what happened and he laughed, and he was good about that. You have to like Gary Carruthers.
MILLS: Well, I’m very fond of Gary Carruthers. And they always say New Mexico politics is full of alligators. So I’m glad the alligators did not get Governor Carruthers. He was staying in the guest house, but you have a tradition of many famous people: Jackie O, Cher, a lot of people have stayed in your guest houses
FENN: You know, the best thing about having, in my opinion, about having a gallery was the great people that came in. It was so much fun. I remember - you’re not old enough to know who Lillian Gish was.
MILLS: I am too.
FENN: The great silent movie star?
MILLS: Yes. Beautiful.
FENN: She came in one time, and I was standing by the front door. Such an elegant lady. I said I’m Forrest Fenn. I had recognized her, but I didn’t know who she was. You know how you do those things? She had a gloved hand. She put it on my hand and she said, “Lillian Gish.” An hour later, we’re still talking. Because I had written a book about Nikolai Fechin the great Russian-American painter. Lillian Gish posed for him, I think, in 1925 in her costume from Romola. I asked her what she knew about Nikolai Fechin and she said, “I don’t know anything about Nikolai Fechin, who is he?” I said, “Miss Gish, you posed for him for that great painting that’s in the Chicago Art Institute now.” She didn’t remember it. So I took her to my library and I pulled a newspaper clipping out of her standing beside Nikolai Fechin and that great painting between them in 1925. And she reads the very fine print. She’s 85 years old. I said, “You know, since about 45, I’ve been wearing glasses, how can you read that fine print without wearing glasses?” She said, “You know, when I was a little girl, my mother told me that your eyes are going to dry out and you’ll lose part of your vision.” She said, “If you put liquid in your eyes two or three times a day, you’ll never lose your eyesight, and I’ve done that all my life.” She could read without those glasses.
MILLS: Oh my goodness. Well, I want to remind our audience that we are joined today by Forrest Fenn. And we’re going to go into the reason that wherever I go people ask me about you and the treasure hunt. So, his most recent book is a wonderful memoir called, “The Thrill of The Chase.” And you really started something with this. You told me that you had been ill and you were looking back at your life and you realized that what mattered the most to you, as in all of you adventures was the thrill of the chase. And please, remind our audience what you did about this treasure, this hidden treasure, and then let’s talk about all the emails you get and all the people. People always come up to me and say, “Has anyone found the treasure yet?”
FENN: Well, this morning, I received my 5,057th email. And I’ve kept all of them. You know, I never did go to college, I never studied business and my whole life was Air Force. I joined as a private. I made Buck Sergeant, went to pilot training, got a commission, became a fighter pilot and, when I retired at age 40, over half of my life had been spent in the Air Force with no education and no experience other than that. So I decided that Santa Fe was the place I wanted to go, but I had to make some money. My retired pay was $800 a month with a wife and two kids, and I could get by on that, you know, if we didn’t go to movies, or didn’t drink Dr Pepper and that kind of thing. I just told myself - you know - and then, when I got, when I reached age 58, I got cancer. I lost a kidney. And I asked the surgeon before we went in for the operation, “What are the chances of this being cancer?” He said, “Five percent.” I said, “Okay. Let’s go with it.” Well a one hour operation turned into five. And afterward, he gave me a 20% chance of living three years. So I went through all of the emotion, you know, shock, disbelief, uh
MILLS: Denial, anger, yes.
FENN: I went through all of them. But after about - I’m a pragmatic person, and when I looked back at the career that I had, in the art business and the Air Force, I said, you know, I’ve had my share, so maybe I’m being called out. And I accepted that, but I said, I’ve had so much fun, particularly in Santa Fe, buying all these Indian things, and ancient Egyptian, and you name it, I had all of them in my gallery, I said, I’ve had so much fun collecting these things, if I’ve got to go, I’m just going to take it with me. And as a matter of fact, Ralph Lauren came into my house one day. He was a good collector. And he saw a bonnet that I had hanging on my wall. It was a Crow medicine bonnet and had ermine skins on it and antelope horns and he said, “I want to buy that thing.” I said, “I don’t want to sell it.” He said, “You have so many of them, you can’t take it with you.” You know what I said to him? “Then I’m not going.” And you know, I started thinking about that later and I said well, you know, If I got to go, why don’t I just take this stuff with me? And I got the idea that I’m going to buy - I gave $25,000 for a beautiful Flemish chest that they think dates to like 150 A.D. And I started going to gun shows and Indian shows and buying gold nuggets and gold coins. And about six months later I had 20.2 Troy pounds of gold in that chest. And jewelry that had emeralds and Ceylon sapphires and diamonds and…
MILLS: There’s a bracelet with 240 something rubies in it?
FENN: Um rubies, yeah.
MILLS: And a Spanish emerald ring. A beautiful big emerald.
FENN: We found that in the Galisteo basin with a metal detector. And two beautiful little jade ancient Chinese jade carvings of faces. I mean, the best things I had, you know, I was going to take them with me. I was 80 - I was 79 years old. So, you know, what do you have to look forward to?
MILLS: Well, so, tell us what you did with this chest.
FENN: Well, I took the chest out and I hid it. And in my book…
MILLS: “The Thrill of The Chase”
FENN: “The Thrill of The Chase” I say that it’s in the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe. But there’s a lady, a neighbor over there. I didn’t know her, but she said she was a neighbor. She called me on the phone and she was really mad at me. I said, “Why are you mad at me?” She says, “There’s two guys out there digging up my front yard.” I said, “I”m sorry. Tell the guys to leave. The treasure chest is north of Santa Fe.” But you should read some of the emails I’ve read. Let me tell you what’s been fun about this. About 2500 emails have said, “Mr. Fenn, we know we’re not going to find the treasure chest, but I just want to thank you for getting me and the kids off the couch and out into the wind.
MILLS: Yes. I’ve read a lot of those emails. I just want to say that in your book, your memoir, “The Thrill of The Chase” you have a poem in which you’ve hidden the clues and I will tell you after I read that poem and I thought this girl is not finding any treasure from these clues. But they’re in there and you have hundreds of people that come to Santa Fe and points north looking for this hidden treasure.
FENN: I don’t know how many people have looked, but I’m sure throughout this last summer there were over a thousand.
FENN: A lot of them go out looking and I don’t know about it till later.
FENN: Then they’ll send me an email and tell me they didn’t find it.
MILLS: Well, I’ve read some of those emails and one of them said, “I give up. I couldn’t find it, but I had a great summer with my son looking for it.”
FENN: Well, I write them back and I tell them don’t give up, it’s still out there.
MILLS: Yeah, yeah. Will you ever know when someone finds it?
FENN: The kind of person that will find it, is the kind of person that can’t keep it quiet. So I expect I’ll know about it. If I found something like that, I could keep it quiet for about 3 minutes. Then I’d tell everybody, you know?
MILLS: Well, you got even more national publicity. Newsweek did a piece on you and unfortunately you weren’t able to correct a lot of the inaccuracies in that, and they went ahead and published it, but that brought you more fame. So how has - and people have written saying thank you for giving me this dream. I work two jobs, I’m a single parent, but I think just knowing that I might be the one to find that treasure…
FENN: Well you know, I… I had the bomb, but Newsweek magazine lit the fuse. And I was inundated with - the Today show wanted me to come on their show and I’ve had eleven reality shows want me. I just tell all of them, um, you know, I’m not that kind of… I’d rather be out fishing on the creek.
MILLS: Yeah. Yes, and then some people said, “I’ve got to abandon the search because my wife says it’s either me or the - it’s either the treasure, or you stay here with me.
FENN: We got about 30 divorces over this. No, that one guy that said that talked his wife into going with him. And beautiful Gadi Schwartz, you know Gadi Schwartz?
MILLS: I do from Channel 4. KOB.
FENN: He went to Yellowstone looking for it, and he read in my book the story about looking for Lewis and Clark where Donny Jo and I had three Baby Ruth candy bars. That’s all the food we took for a week. Up in the mountains we were going to catch fish, and shoot rabbits and things, and he thought that was a fetish. So when he was up there in Yellowstone looking for the treasure chest, he saw a sign that said Red Canyon, which is the canyon that we went up on horseback for a week. He went back to town, and bought three Baby Ruth candy bars and went out there and nailed them on that fence. And later, he’s out looking for the treasure and he said he found two Baby Ruth candy bars - wrappers - laying on the ground there.
MILLS: Oh my goodness. Well, I want to encourage everyone to get your book, and to go out and make - decipher what they can out of this enigma hidden in a riddle. It’s very cleverly written. But, so “The Thrill of The Chase” - I want to know what you’re chasing now.
FENN: You know when I was in business, it’s going to sound very crass, but in the back of my mind, I told myself there’s never enough. Nothing is too good. That was the way I thought because I churning in my business, you know? I was trying to make a living. It wasn’t easy because I didn’t have any experience and, first two major shows I had, I didn’t sell anything. Not even a book. Because I didn’t know what I was doing, I decided if I was going to compete, I was going to have to hustle. And I decided I was going to be a hustler. Be friendly, talk to people, invite them in. And famous people would come in. I loved that when that would happen. I would always meet them at the door and shake their hand and take them to lunch if they’d go, because I’m always inspired by people who have done something significant with their life. I’m in awe of those people.
MILLS: Well, um, I just want to mention one more time this book, “The Thrill of The Chase.” You can buy it at Collected Works.
FENN: It’s the only place you can get that. I gave them all the copies they can sell.
MILLS: And it’s very important that they’re donating the proceeds from this book. People said, “Oh, he’s just doing this to make money.” No, the proceeds go through Collected Works and then go…
FENN: Well I’m not making any money. I’m not even getting my costs back on that book. But the Collected Works is putting 10% aside, and when the time comes we’re going to buy a cancer operation for somebody because that, that’s important to me.
MILLS: Yes. You are working on, I think, “The Closet Stories of Taos”?
FENN: “The Closet Stories of Taos.” You know, Taos was such a great place in the turn of the last century. 1900, 1905, there were so many great artists up there but, there was Long John Dunne, there was Doughbelly Price, there was Mace McHorse - is that not a great name?
MILLS: That’s a great name!
FENN: Mace McHorse owned the first car dealership up there. And Mabel Dodge Luhan got the first car and Long John Dunne got the second. And Dorothy Brett told me a story about Mabel Dodge Luhan getting the first bathtub in town. And, you know, Mabel was long dead when I came out this country but I knew Dorothy Brett and she was still mad. She said, “She would never let me use her bathtub.”
MILLS: Oh! You’re also doing an event at the Spanish Museum with Bill Fields and Jack Lefler. You’re doing the Stories of Santa Fe coming up in December.
FENN: I think they cornered Billy Fields and I because we’re so old we know everything that happened in Santa Fe in the old days.
MILLS: Where all the bodies are buried.
FENN: I think I had either the second or the third art gallery in Santa Fe. It hadn’t been that long - you know, we’re talking about 1972 really.
MILLS: Yes, well thank you for spending the time with us today. Our guest today is Forrest Fenn who is the winner, the co-winner with Slim Randles of the Rounders Award for 2012. And you’re also, although you’ve hidden treasure and entice people with the thrill of the chase, you yourself are a treasure.
FENN: Thank you. Max Evans is a treasure.
MILLS: It’s absolutely true so thank you for taking -
FENN: You’re a sweetheart for inviting me back. Thank you.
MILLS: Well, everyone asks me, “Where’s the treasure? Get a clue if you can!” So, our treasure today is Forrest Fenn and thank you.
FENN: Thank you.
MILLS: And I’m Lorene Mills. I’d like to thank you, our audience, for being with us today. This is Report From Santa Fe, we’ll see you next week.