Forrest Fenn, who created famed treasure hunt for chest full of gold, dies aged 90

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BREAKING NEWS: Forrest Fenn, author and artifacts dealer who created famed treasure hunt for $3 million chest full of gold, dies aged 90

Forrest Fenn, the author and artifacts dealer who led thousands of treasure hunters on a chase for a $3 million chest of gold in the Rocky Mountains, has died. He was 90.

Fenn died of natural causes on Monday at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, police spokesman Greg Gurulé told the New Mexican.

For 10 years, thousands of thrill seekers followed the clues left in a poem he published in 2010, seeking the chest full of gold he said that he had stowed somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

In June of this year, he claimed that the treasure had been found in Wyoming, but refused to reveal exactly where it had been hidden, saying he had promised the lucky winner he would keep it a secret. 

Forrest Fenn, the author and artifacts dealer who led thousands of treasure hunters on a chase for a $3 million chest of gold in the Rocky Mountains, has died

Forrest Fenn, the author and artifacts dealer who led thousands of treasure hunters on a chase for a $3 million chest of gold in the Rocky Mountains, has died 

Fenn (pictured with the treasure in June) claimed that the treasure had been found in Wyoming, but did not say where. The identity of the person who found it was not revealed

Fenn (pictured with the treasure in June) claimed that the treasure had been found in Wyoming, but did not say where. The identity of the person who found it was not revealed

A native of Waco, Texas, Fenn served as an Air Force combat pilot in the Vietnam War, attaining the rank of major.

He was decorated with the Silver Star for gallantry in action after he was wounded by enemy fire in April 1968, and with the Distinguished Flying Cross with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for heroism and extraordinary achievement on two missions in the fall of 1968. 

In total, he flew 328 combat missions in 365 days in Vietnam.

Following his military service, Fenn opened the Arrowsmith-Fenn Gallery in Santa Fe with his partner Rex Arrowsmith. It later became the Fenn Galleries, which he operated with his wife Peggy.

The gallery specialized in American Indian artifacts, paintings, bronze sculptures, and other art, including openly selling forged copies of works by Modigliani, Monet and Degas. 

Though he was sometimes scorned by competitors in Santa Fe’s bustling gallery scene, Fenn’s gallery reportedly grossed $6 million a year.

Fenn served as an Air Force pilot in the Vietnam War, attaining the rank of major. He was decorated with the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster

Fenn served as an Air Force pilot in the Vietnam War, attaining the rank of major. He was decorated with the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster

Following his military service, Fenn opened the Arrowsmith-Fenn Gallery in Santa Fe, dealing American Indian artifacts, paintings, bronze sculptures, and other art

Following his military service, Fenn opened the Arrowsmith-Fenn Gallery in Santa Fe, dealing American Indian artifacts, paintings, bronze sculptures, and other art

In 1988, Fenn was diagnosed with cancer and given a prognosis that it was likely terminal.

After he recovered, Fenn said he was inspired to create a treasure hunt, publishing the clues in a 2010 collection of short stories about his life, titled The Thrill Of The Chase: A Memoir.

‘I had several motives,’ Fenn told DailyMail.com in 2018 in an interview at his New Mexico estate. ‘First of all, we were going into a recession – lots of people losing their jobs. I wanted to give some people hope. Despair was written all over the newspaper headlines.

‘And secondly, we’re an overweight society – I think not only in this country, but the world,’ says Fenn, who ran a successful Santa Fe art gallery with his wife for 17 years. ‘So I wanted to get the kids away from their electronic gadgets … and out into the sunshine, out into the mountains, hiking, fishing, picnicking – and anything but the couch. Get out of the game room.’

Developing story, more to follow. 

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