In the spirit of a famous movie about a fight club, it would seem to make sense that the first rule of treasure hunting would be: ‘Don’t talk about the treasure hunt’. After all, you don’t want others to find it before you do. And it would make even more sense for the second rule of treasure hunting to be: ‘Don’t talk about the treasure hunt after the treasure is found’. It’s too late … right? The famous Fenn Treasure Hunt violated both of those rules – hunters, journalists and Fenn himself couldn’t stop talking about it for the ten years it was hidden somewhere in Rocky Mountains by eccentric millionaire Forrest Fenn. The treasure was located in 2020, the finder was revealed and Fenn died shortly after. End of story? Stop talking about the Fenn treasure? Not on your life … especially when the talk finally reveals the real location where the treasure was found.
“I mean, this is bizarre sh-t.”
That doesn’t sound like a legal defense but it is straight from Karl Sommer, the lawyer for Fenn’s estate, who opened up to Outside magazine recently about why a number of people are still discussing the Fenn treasure hunt. The list starts with Jamie McCracken, one of the hundreds of thousands of unsuccessful Fenn treasure hunters. McCracken has filed a lawsuit in a New Mexico court against the Fenn estate, accusing Fenn of running an unfair contest. He claims Fenn moved the treasure four times when he thought McCracken was getting close, that Fenn purchased property to spy on him, and that Fenn lied to all hunters when he said the chest filled with up to $2 million of riches was never moved from its original hiding place. Oh, and that Fenn was still alive after the media announced his death.
Despite what you may think about all of that, here's the bizarre sh-t -- Jamie McCracken is representing himself and doing a pretty good job of it. He presented to the court photos of the Fenn treasure in its hiding place. He also presented emails between Forrest Fenn and Jack Stuef, who found the treasure in 2020. Before taking it to Fenn, Steuf sent those photos to him with a legal-sounding email stating he would bring the treasure to Fenn and let him decide whether to give it to Steuf or keep it … in case you're wondering, Steuf got the stuff. That should have been the end of it but Steuf was sued in December 2020 and claimed his texts and emails were hacked, forcing him to talk somemore about the treasure hunt.
Steuf is now on shaky ground -- both legally and possibly volcanically – as another person joins the talk about the treasure hunt. Sarah Davis is Yellowstone National Park’s chief ranger and the lawsuit reveals that both Fenn and Steuf talked to her before the find was announced to let her know the treasure was in her park. Not only would that spell trouble for Yellowstone as curious tourists and hoardes of frustrated hunters trample their way to see what they couldn’t figure out themselves, but it puts Steuf in legal trouble – any property found in a national park is supposed to be turned in to the park supervisor. Peter Frick-Wright, the author of the Outside article, speculates that the treasure chest contained a paper treasure – instructions on how to skirt around that provision.
On May 4, Judge Francis J. Mathew denied the government’s motion to intervene in the case to keep the location secret – Mathew stated the instruction poem Fenn released in 2010 already revealed the location … albeit cryptically. That means the public will soon know the exact location of Fenn’s treasure in Yellowstone Park. And we know what happens next. More talk about the Fenn treasure hunt.
And more bizarre sh-t.