Finder of Forrest Fenn’s treasure reveals identity

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Image source, Most Wanted/Shutterstock
Image caption,
The late Forrest Fenn (pictured) never disclosed the name of the man who found his treasure

A man has come forward to say he is the anonymous finder of a treasure trove worth more than $1m (£748,000).

Earlier this year, antiquities collector Forrest Fenn confirmed the discovery of the bronze chest he hid in the Rocky Mountains more than a decade ago.

Now, Jack Stuef - a 32-year-old from Michigan - has revealed himself as its finder.

Thousands of people had unsuccessfully searched for the fortune.

The hunt began in 2010, when the now deceased Fenn - an eccentric New Mexico millionaire - penned a cryptic poem in his memoir, promising the existence of a grand fortune hidden somewhere between New Mexico and the Canadian border.

By his estimate, over 350,000 adventure seekers went in search of the chest, which reportedly contains rare gold coins, precious gems and several ancient artefacts.

Fenn simply hoped the search would encourage people to get off their couches and into the outdoors, but several explorers gave up their day jobs and dipped into their savings in pursuit of the riches. Four men perished in the wilderness while on the hunt.

In June, only months before his death, a 90-year-old Fenn confirmed a man from "back east" had located his fortune, but did not disclose the man's name.

Mr Stuef - a medical student - says he remained anonymous for fear of "stalkers, death threats, home invasions, frivolous lawsuits, and a potential kidnapping".

In a 7 December blog post, he said he chose to come forward because a court ruling, in response to a lawsuit filed against him, would soon unmask his identity.

The lawsuit - filed by a Chicago woman who spent thousands of dollars in an attempt to locate the treasure - alleges Mr Stuef hacked her emails for the information that led him to the chest.

Mr Stuef dismissed the accusation and said, "I am the legitimate finder and owner of the treasure, and no person has any remotely valid claim against me".

He added that, since the retrieval of the treasure, he has had to move "to a more secure building with guards and multiple levels of security".

CBS News reported he will auction off the items to pay off his medical student loans.

Media caption,
'What a find' - metal detectorists find treasure on the north coast