A man who claims to have found the elusive treasure belonging to eccentric collector Forrest Fenn has just revealed his identity in an online post.
The finder identified himself Monday in a post on Medium as Jack Stuef and said he searched for two years before finding it in June in Wyoming — where Forrest hid it ten years ago. Fenn confirmed its discovery and died months later at the age of 90.
Stuef said he remained anonymous because he did not want his family to endure the "stalkers, death treats, home invasions, frivolous lawsuits and a potential kidnapping" that Fenn's family did.
"My family and I have prepared for the potentiality of this day," he wrote. "Since finding the treasure, I moved to a more secure building with guards and multiple levels of security, and I have taken appropriate measures to protect myself."
He said he was prompted to reveal his name after a U.S. District Court in New Mexico ruling last month that means the Fenn estate must provide Stuef's name and address in a lawsuit brought on by plaintiff Barbara Andersen, a Chicago-based lawyer who spent thousands of dollars trying to find the treasure and claims her emails containing her progress in the search for the treasure were "hacked."
Stuef called the lawsuit "meritless" in the blog post, but he did empathize with other adventure seekers who wished to find the treasure.
"When I found the treasure, it ended the hopes of the many people around the world who wanted to one day find it," he said. "I understand both the disappointment and disbelief many have and are experiencing."
The treasure is a bronze chest filled with gold, jewels, and other valuables worth more than $1 million. It was hidden a decade ago somewhere in the Rocky Mountain wilderness. Stuef said he would never reveal the exact location of the treasure, saying "the natural wonder of place that Forrest held so dear will be destroyed by people seeking treasure they hope I dropped on my way out or Forrest on his way in."
Stuef said brought the treasure from Wyoming to Forrest in Santa Fe and later put it in a vault at a "secure location" in New Mexico.
"It will remain there until I sell it," he said.
Hundreds of thousands have hunted in vain across remote corners of the U.S. West for the bronze chest. Many quit their jobs to dedicate themselves to the search and others depleted their life savings. At least four people died searching for it, including a snowmobiler in March.