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Police Want Wealthy Archeologist to Call Off $2 Million Treasure Hunt in Rockies

fenn treasure hunt called off
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No, it's not Indiana Jones. Police in New Mexico have asked millionaire and self-taught archaeologist Forrest Fenn to call off his treasure hunt. Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, the 86-year-old art dealer has hidden two million dollars in gold and precious gems. It's a real-life treasure hunt. Since he announced the hunt seven years ago in his self-published book The Thrill of the Chase, thousands have gone searching.

"No one knows where that treasure chest is but me," Fenn told NPR in 2016. "If I die tomorrow, the knowledge of that location goes in the coffin with me."

In the book is a poem that serves as the primary source of clues to find Fenn's treasure. It's in the Rockies somewhere between Sante Fe and the Canadian border, and it's above 5,000 feet in elevation. Additionally, he's shared that it's not in a mine, graveyard, or near a structure. He's also tried to make it clear that he hasn't buried the treasure anywhere dangerous.

But that hasn't stopped two treasure hunters from having fatal accidents while searching for Fenn's treasure, the most recent of which was earlier this week. That's why police want to have the hunt called off. "I want Mr. Fenn to retrieve the treasure or call off the hunt," Pete Kassetas, the chief of the New Mexico State Police, told ABC News. "It's solely based in the interest of public safety."

Fenn previously said he won't dig up his treasure and end the chase, though he wants people to be safe. But he told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that he's considering his options now.

Fenn hid the treasure during the Great Recession to "cheer folks up and get them off their couches and into the great outdoors," according to NPR. "Sure, I'm eccentric," he says. "I pride myself on being eccentric. I don't want to go down the center line like a lot of people do."

If you're going after Curly's gold in some kind of modern City Slickers 2 getaway, Fenn says to be careful. Go with a partner, bring GPS, and don't go hunting if snow and ice haven't melted. The treasure is in a 10-by-10 bronze box that weighs about 40 pounds. He told the New York Times the contents include "265 gold coins, hundreds of gold nuggets, hundreds of rubies, eight emeralds, two Ceylon sapphires, many diamonds, two ancient Chinese jade carvings, pre-Columbian gold bracelets and fetishes, and more."

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. Follow him @dlukenelson.
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