A year ago, one lucky treasure hunter solved a decades-old riddle and discovered the whereabouts of the $2-million treasure chest buried by Forrest Fenn. However, Frenchman Bruno Raphoz is now suing Forrest Fenn’s estate for $10 million, claiming the treasure was moved AFTER after he solved the riddle that would lead him to the loot first, and that Fenn actually kept it for himself. Fenn died in September last year, aged 90.
The lawsuit was filed yesterday in US District Court.
Raphoz claims he informed Fenn that he had solved his riddle, believing the treasure to be in southwestern Colorado, but that Fenn then moved the chest before he could get to it. His travel plans from France were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fenn announced shortly after that the treasure had been found in Wyoming by Jonathan ‘Jack’ Stuef, a 30ish-year-old journalist who has returned to school to study medicine.
Raphoz alleges that Fenn fabricated that discovery and actually kept the treasure to himself.
“It appeared suspicious to everyone. Our assumption is that [Forrest] Fenn went to retrieve the chest himself, declared it found publicly, and kept the content for himself.”
– Raphoz said in his lawsuit
The lawsuit also names Stuef as a defendant, along with Shiloh Old, Fenn’s grandson, and Daniel Barbarisi, a journalist who chronicled the search in his newly released book, Chasing the Thrill: Obsession, Death, and Glory in America’s Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Hundreds of thousands of people attempted to find the treasure chest hidden by Forrest Fenn in the Rocky Mountains a decade ago, and at least six lost their lives in its pursuit.
It all started when art dealer and former air force pilot, Forrest Fenn, revealed in his self-published 2010 novel, “The Thrill of the Chase” that he had buried a lockbox full of about 2 million dollars worth of gold, gems, and artifacts. The clues to the treasure’s whereabouts were hidden in a 24 verse poem that is included in the memoir. Many people have quit their jobs and spent their life savings in the quest to find the buried treasure.
THE TREASURE HAS BEEN FOUND
It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains, and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago. I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot.
I congratulate the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries.
So the search is over. Look for more information and photos in the coming days.
– Forrest Fenn, June 6th 2020
Mr. Fenn stated that the Treasure was located in the 1,000-mile stretch of the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico to the Canadian border and at least 5,000 feet above sea level, in an area that an 80-year-old would not have trouble accessing. Fenn estimates that over 100,000 people have attempted the search for his treasure and originally said that he hoped the hunt would push more people outside to enjoy the wilderness. Asked how he felt now that the treasure had been found, Fenn said: “I don’t know, I feel halfway kind of glad, halfway kind of sad because the chase is over.”
- Related: Police Warn of ‘Deadly Pursuit’ as 2 Have Died in 2 Years Searching for Buried Treasure in Rocky Mountains
In March 2020, two Coloradan snowmobilers searching for Forrest Fenn’s elusive treasure became stranded, and one died in a Utah park. In June 2017, New Mexico authorities found the body of Paris Wallace, a Colorado Pastor who had joined the hunt. A year previous to that, Randy Bilyeu disappeared while searching for the treasure; his remains were found in the Rio Grande seven months later.