The hunt for Forrest Fenn’s treasure


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CBS News


Millionaire Forrest Fenn hid a treasure somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Five men died searching for it. 

The Fenn Treasure

Forrest Fenn

Gabriela Campos/eyevine/Redux


 In 2010, 80-year-old millionaire art dealer Forrest Fenn hid a treasure chest somewhere north of Santa Fe and south of Canada in the Rocky Mountains. 

Chest of Gold

The Fenn treasure

Forrest Fenn


The 10×10-inch chest contained gold coins, gems and jewelry, and was worth at least $1 million.

Unusual Treasure Map

Forrest Fenn measure map

Sacha Dent


Forrest Fenn wrote a 24-line poem, containing nine clues, and included it in his self-published memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase.” Fenn said the poem would lead to the treasure. 

The Search Begins

Dacha Dent

Sacha Dent


Sacha Dent estimates she spent more than 10,000 hours doing research online and went out on more than 300 trips to find the treasure, often alone. She carried a pink pistol for protection. 

Extreme Commitment

Katya Luce

Bill Curry


Katya Luce sold everything she owned and moved to New Mexico to be closer to the search area. She estimates she spent $75,000 over seven years trying to find Forrest Fenn’s gold.

The First Death

Randy Bilyeu

Randy Bilyeu/Facebook


In January 2016, Randy Bilyeu and his dog Leo set off to search for the treasure in the Rio Grande northwest of Santa Fe. Bilyeu was gone for 10 days before he was reported missing.

The Only One Rescued

Randy Bilyeu search

Satoshi Mori


A helicopter crew found Randy Bilyeu’s raft and rescued Leo. But Bilyeu’s body wasn’t recovered until six months later.

An Unfortunate Accident

Jeff Murphy

National Park Service


In June 2017, Jeff Murphy was searching in Yellowstone National Park when he slipped and fell off a cliff.

The Third Fatality

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Paris Wallace/Facebook


Just a week later, Colorado pastor Paris Wallace attempted to cross the Rio Grande near the Taos Junction Bridge and drowned. 

Call to End the Hunt

Rio Grande

CBS News


Following Paris Wallace’s death, the New Mexico State Police chief asked Forrest Fenn to call off the hunt. Fenn refused, but urged searchers to be more careful and reminded them not to go anywhere an 80-year-old man couldn’t go. 

The Thrill of the Chase

Eric Ashby

Eric Ashby/Facebook


Eric Ashby moved from Tennessee to Colorado to search for Fenn’s treasure. 

Death on the River

Eric Ashby's raft

Fremont County Sheriff’s Office


Eric Ashby drowned in the Arkansas River outside Cañon City, Colorado. A photographer captured this photo of his empty raft. 

The Storm Passed?

Dan Barbarisi

Jay Raynor


For nearly three years, no one else died, and searchers continued to hunt for the treasure, including Dan Barbarisi, who wrote a book about the hunt.

On the Hunt

Mike Sexson

Steve Inlow


In March 2020, Mike Sexson went searching near Dinosaur National Monument. He had searched the area nearly a dozen times before and wanted to go out one more time before the COVID-19 lockdown. 

The Last Loss

Mike Sexson airlift

Utah Highway Patrol


Mike Sexson and his friend Steven Inlow ran out of supplies and couldn’t get cell service to call for help. Inlow survived by drinking his own urine, but Sexson succumbed to hypothermia. His body was airlifted off the mountain.

The End of the Hunt

The Fenn treasure found

Dan Barbarisi


Three months later, Forrest Fenn reported that the treasure had been found. He later revealed it was found in Wyoming. Jack Stuef, who found the treasure, hasn’t revealed where he found it, saying he doesn’t want the spot to turn into a tourist attraction. Fenn died in September 2020.



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