The man who found antique collector Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure has been identified, months after the bronze treasure chest worth $1 million was found in the Rocky Mountains.
Jack Stuef, a 32-year-old medical student from Michigan, identified himself as the finder of Fenn’s treasure in an interview to Outside magazine, in which he said a recent lawsuit threatened his anonymity.
Stuef found Fenn’s treasure in Wyoming in June, but wouldn’t share any details about its exact location with Outside.
He said he spent years “obsessed” with finding it before his successful search this past summer.
“I don’t want to ruin this treasure hunt by saying it was made for an English major, but it’s based on a close read of a text,” Stuef told Outside. “I mean, that’s what it is. It’s having the correct interpretation of a poem. I understood him by reading his words, and listening to him talk over and over and over and over again. And seeking out anything I could get my hands on that told me who he was.”
Fenn, who died in September, launched his treasure hunt in 2010, revealing in his autobiography, “The Thrill of the Chase,” that a bronze chest filled with gold, jewels, and other valuables, had been hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.
He posted clues about the chest’s location on his website, and included a poem about it in his autobiography.
At least five people have died searching for the chest, and there have been multiple court cases over the chest, filed by people claiming they were misled or followed during their failed searches.
After Stuef found the chest, a woman filed another lawsuit claiming the chest’s finder had hacked her texts and emails in their journey to finding the chest, which she believed was hidden in New Mexico. Stuef denied the allegation, saying he didn’t find the chest in New Mexico.
Fenn had kept Stuef’s identity secret in the months after he found the chest out of fear for his safety, but after his death a subpoena threatened to reveal his identity.
Stuef said in a Medium post about revealing his identity that he had moved into a secure building, and put the treasure chest in a vault in New Mexico.
“For the past six months, I have remained anonymous, not because I have anything to hide, but because Forrest and his family endured stalkers, death threats, home invasions, frivolous lawsuits, and a potential kidnapping — all at the hands of people with delusions related to his treasure. I don’t want those things to happen to me and my family,” he wrote.
He told Outside that he’ll never reveal where he found the chest because he doesn’t want it to turn into a “tourist destination.”
“We thought it was not appropriate for that to happen. He was willing to go to great lengths, very great lengths, to avoid ever having to tell the location,” he said.
Stuef did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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