Legal Ponderings


A commentor on this blog who goes by the name Mapsmith contributed thoughts to the discussion of the legal issues surrounding ownership of the chest once it’s found. I thought the points were really well thought out and deserving of a spotlight for their clarity. Makes me wonder what Forrest actually considered when he hid the chest…


My feeling is a millionaire putting a million dollars gift out there -like any million dollar investment- didn’t do so without first consulting an expensive lawyer.

1. He didn’t leave a gold mine, nor a sack of gold, he left an antique box , His box, that is specifically from a time/culture/place that could NOT have been in the Rockies. There’s no way NPS or BLM can claim “that was already there”.

2. It’s Fenn’s personal property, like if a millionaire hiker lost a very expensive watch. You can pick it up. The poem in fact is a “lost” flyer: the hypothetical millionaire is asking for help in finding his watch. Additionally /actually, he’s said there’s a reward for return of 1 bracelet in the trove : if he decides to reward me (with a box of gold) for finding his bracelet, that’s not illegal. At all – lost & found rewards aren’t regulated.

3. He chose to put wording in the poem that legally declares the gold a trove and grants title transfer. “Troves” have completely different rules, left over in some cases from mine stake eras- and this could help protect legal right further.

4. Those familiar with law school might know this one– there are certain areas of the US where jurisdiction is in question to the point where legal scholars still don’t have an answer: law students hate being challenged with questions like “how would a crime here ever be tried?” & “if a jury could never be raised, the bill of rights rights couldn’t be fulfilled, right?”
Ok. Fine.
…two of those jurisdiction ‘no man zone’ areas are in Yellowstone


489 thoughts on “Legal Ponderings

  1. In an audio only video at Collected Works Bookstore dated April 17, 2013, Forrest stated that the finder of the chest would be subject to “earned income taxes.” Earned income does not apply here since earned income involves wages, salaries and tips. Forrest most likely did not consult a lawyer when he used this term.

    Another option is that it would be under the gift tax ruling, where Forrest (the giver) would be subject to the tax. This would be up to the IRS to determine the status of the chest since Forrest stated he “gives title” to the chest. Forrest obviously did not want to pay taxes on the chest when he used the earned income statement.

    A third consideration is that the treasure may be considered a prize. When Oprah Winfrey gave away a new car to every person in the audience one day, the audience members were required to pay an average tax of $7000 based on the sticker price of the car to the IRS.

    • Here’s the final word on legalities and tax issues:

      The framework of the law of lost and found property law in the common law jurisdictions in the United States is based on a distinction among lost, mislaid, and abandoned property.

      “Abandoned property is property that the owner throws away or voluntarily forsakes its possession, and the first person to find it gets absolute title.

      Lost property is property that the owner involuntarily parted with through neglect, carelessness, or inadvertence, and of whose whereabouts the owner has no knowledge, and the finder gets title against everyone except the true owner.

      Mislaid property is that which is intentionally put into a certain place and later forgotten. e.g. the owner places a hat on a hat rack in a restaurant, but forgets to take the hat upon leaving.” Terry v. Lock, 37 S.W.3d 202, 206 (Ark. 2001) (enumerating the elements of abandoned property).

      Forrest Fenn’s treasure clearly falls under the definition of “abandoned property”.

      Where it gets a bit murky is further defining Fenn’s abandoned property in a legal context.

      “In addition to the lost/mislaid/abandoned distinction, United States courts distinguish two further types of lost property: Embedded property and treasure trove.

      Embedded property is property that is buried in the land, unless it is treasure trove. Courts have ruled that embedded property includes lumber company scrip, a gilded lead statue of George III, a meteorite, a prehistoric Indian canoe, old ceramics, and gold-bearing quartz.

      Treasure trove is refined gold and silver, either as bullion or made into coin, plus paper money, since the paper representatives of gold and silver are deemed to be treasure trove as well. Treasure trove is buried or otherwise hidden or concealed. It need not be fixed to the land, but can be hidden in a moveable object: Courts have been willing to consider as treasure”

      Cf. Benjamin v. Lindner Aviation, Inc., 534 N.W.2d 400, 407 (Iowa 1995) Cf. Campbell v. Cochran, 410 A.2d 211, 215 (Del. Super. Ct. 1980) Cf. United States v. Peter, 178 F.Supp. 854, 855-56 (E.D. La. 1959).

      So, one would assume that by legal definition, Fenn’s tresure would considered an “abandoned treasure trove”, however that is not the case, unless it isn’t found in the next 60 years.

      ” A treasure trove has the thought of antiquity: A find of money must have been concealed so long that it is unlikely that the true owner will re-appear before a court will consider it treasure trove. This language originated in a 1956 Oregon case where the money had been concealed for less than a year. The courts have not enunciated a bright line rule as to how many years will allow a find to be considered treasure trove. The consensus appears to be several decades, perhaps three or more. A 2001 case decided that eleven years was too little time for a find to be considered treasure trove; a 1995 case considered that thirty-five years might be sufficient; a 1991 case stated that fifty-nine years might be sufficient. Thus a coin hoard is treated as treasure trove if it is old enough; otherwise, it is treated as lost, abandoned, or mislaid.” See Hill v. Schrunk, 292 P.2d 141, 143 (Ore. 1956). Cf. Terry v. Lock, 37 S.W.3d 202, 203, 208-9 (Ark. 2001), Cf. Benjamin v. Lindner Aviation, Inc. 534 N.W.2d 400, 407 (Iowa 1995)

      So, if the treasure is found within the next half-century, it will not be considered a treasure trove, but simply willfully abandoned property.

      Can others claim partial or full ownership of an abandoned treasure: Yes, depending upon where it was found

      “Approximately half of the states have statutes prescribing the disposition of lost property.53 Under these statutes, the finder must inform the police of the find and
      place the item in their custody. The police search for the owner by posting a notice in the courthouse or advertising in a newspaper. If the owner does not reclaim the property within a certain period of time – the periods range from ninety days to one year – the title to the property vests in the finder. Nowadays, when finders prevail against locus owners, they are more likely to do so through one of these statutory schemes, rather than through a treasure trove claim. The courts are leery of divesting the true owner of any rights merely by a characterization of the property as abandoned, lost, mislaid, embedded, or treasure trove, and prefer statutory schemes that provide a certain modicum of due process before the property is vested in a new owner. When the true owner emerges after the statutory period has expired, the courts have been most vigorous in defending the rights of the new owner.” See Willsmore v. Township of Oceola, 308 N.W.2d 796, 800 (Mich. Ct. App. 1981). 53 See, eg., Alaska Stat. §12.36.045; Cal. Civ. Code §2080; N.Y. Pers. Prop. §254 (Consol. 1988); Wis. Stat. §§170.07-170.11.

      These facts place the finder of Fenn’s treasure in a strange predicament, for the treasure is not lost, mislaid, embedded, or a treasure trove- but willfully abandoned. There should be no legal reason to place the treasure in the custody of the police given the very public nature of this abandonment, but if the police opted to play hardball, my guess is they could, and force the return of the treasure for the allotted legal time – while also accomplishing nothing other than possibly wrestling a fine and unnecessary travel expenses out of the finder. See United States v. Shivers, 96 F.3d 120, 123-24 (5th Cir. 1996), aff’g In re Shivers, 900 F.Supp. 60 (E.D. Tex. 1995). 87 See 568 F.Supp. 1562, 1566 and n.12 (S.D. Fla. 1981). 88 See Gerstenblith, supra note 8, at 596-97

      Where it is found is also critically important. If it is found on Federal property it cannot be removed. Even the removal of rocks from a Federally-designated park is a felony, although, given the nature of the treasure hunt, my guess is one might be able to split the prize with the Feds. The same is true for Indian reservations and State property. If Fenn stashed it on private property, the treasure would also belong entirely to the property owner unless express permission was given. The only area which would provide unfettered ownership would be if it was found on public lands.

      TAX LIABILTIES- are very clear…sort of.

      “The United States Federal government levies a tax upon income. Treasure trove is considered income for income tax purposes. This income tax is payable at the rate of ordinary income, not at the more favorable capital gains rate. According to the Treasury Regulation concerning treasure trove, “[t]reasure trove, to the extent of its value in United States currency, constitutes gross income for the taxable year in which it is reduced to undisputed possession.” Treas. Reg. §1.61-14 (as amended in 1993). The income tax law concerning treasure trove is discussed in Cesarini v. United States, 296 F.Supp. 3 (N.D. Ohio. 1969).

      The issue concerning Fenn’s treasure…is by the government’s own definition of a treasure trove, Fenn’s treasure does not qualify. It is simply abandoned property, but my guess is, the above rule would still apply… and taxes on what might be close to $2 million would force the finder, in almost all situations, to sell it immediately.

      • Paul;

        A very informative article. Thanks for sharing. Were
        I to be so lucky as to find the TC, how could I get in contact with you?

        Thanks for a reply.


      • Thanks Paul,
        Very educational.

        “So, if the treasure is found within the next half-century, it will not be considered a treasure trove, but simply willfully abandoned property.”

        “Can others claim partial or full ownership of an abandoned treasure: Yes, depending upon where it was found”

        I think it may be on Adjacent National Forest Land.
        That’s the color coding on the map I have of the Gallatin National Forest.
        Say someone did find it here, then what?

        Seems to me there’s going to be litigation’s no matter where you find it.

        • It’s my opinion (based upon some research) that the best scenario would be to locate the treasure on property Forrest owns, and have his permission in writing to enter the property and retreive. Perhaps that’s the ‘write way’ described in one scrap book. Biggest problem would be Forrest may not use his own name or anything we would recognize as him. Just some thoughts as we anticipate searching.

          • Lia,
            This begs the question. Does Forrest own any property 8+ miles North of SF in the RM’s? Probably not & if he does, I am sure the treasure is not there, but could say that’s where you found it.
            It’s nice to dream & plan ahead but I don’t think this is something we can be totally prepared for.
            I know one thing, I would not willingly hand it over to any government entity or anyone except for the hider.

          • Very unlikely it’s on property that he owns, this is the reason why. Forrest is past the average life expectancy and when he passes someone else, most likely a family member would inherent the property along with rightful owner ship to the chest. If thats the case one would have to find it while he is so still alive and that doesn’t seem to be the nature of the chase.

          • I don’t necessarily agree with this direction. Point in fact NM has an LLC that can be in any name. Anything owned by the LLC is transferable anominousily. Also the owner of the LLC is the one who has
            possession. All you need is a NM address, attorney, designated holder, etc. Read a book called “How to be Invisable”. It explains everything. I have rich friends that use these for protection from lawsuits among other things. The LLC is tax free, easily transferable and legal. I’m not an attorney so take this with a grain of salt.

          • A person’s writings could be recognizable based on content and style, regardless of handle. As always, IMO.

        • The locus of the treasure is key. Only public land will provide you clear 100% possession. Removing it from Federal property is a felony (although technically, the depositing of it on Fed property is also illegal). The removal from State or private property is also illegal, and the penalty will vary from state to state and dependent upon the property owner. I would agree, that there will be litigation regardless. My guess is, if one was to remove it and bring it home, at a minimum they will eventually be required to prove where they found it so as to skirt criminal charges. If the area you are searching is outside of Gallatin National Forest and in public lands, you are probably fine.

          • Paul,
            Gallatin National Forest are public lands but owned by the Fed & maintained by the Forest Service & the USDA. I believe this is what I read on there website. So, what would you consider it to be? Public lands or Federal lands? I am confused by all the double speak & not sure what to believe about anything when the government is involved.

        • My spot is FURTHER complicated, possibly, by being in Gallatin NF, but being “non-forest serivce owned land” whatever that is. It’s owned by a “revocable trust”. wha?

          • The park is maintained and governed by the NPS, thus the NPS (i.e. the Feds), has jurisdiction. There are properties within many of the western parks, which were owned privately prior to the Feds making them into parks. Rather than force emanent domain, many, but not all of the landowners, were allowed to keep their land/properties within these parks- and these areas are definitely private property

          • Paul, thank you for your response. OK, you say maintained and governed by the Natl FOREST Service and it has “jurisdiction”.

            Then, “these areas are definitely private property”. This suggests there are the NFS “rules” and the private property “rules” coexisting–is that not a conflict?

            It is further complicated I think because the “Trust” I believe was created specifically to “fill in” the checkerboard sections that complicated use of the Nat’l Forest–to make the Forest effectively contiguous.

      • Makes one wonder if his use of the word trove when describing the chest within the poem could help prove its a trove outside of a sixty year timeline in the court of law? It does also stand with reason as soon as Fenn passes it becomes a trove regardless of how much time has passed because he would not be around to claim it.

        • It is very clear-cut and yet not at the same time. The actual collection is a treasure trove yes, but in order to meet the legal definition it must actually stay in the ground (currently) for 60 years. If it is found within our lifetimes it’s still going to be considered willfully abandonded property and not a treasure trove. Where it gets a bit murky is the age of the coins and art pieces themselves. Typically, if they are over 100 years old they are considered antiquities, which generally means only a licensed archeaologist can unearth it…. but context is key; FF’s treasure has been buried as part of a modern, and very public collection, so I think the finder will be fine if they are not accredited…but I can envision legislation…for we are the “Land of the Fee”.

          • How can you say it’s abandoned when he says he will go get it back if it reaches a certain value. Where did he ever say he abandoned it? Is to hide something that you may return to get later = abandoned or just hidden ??

          • Abandoned only seems applicable in this case if he was to pass away, which at that point he will no longer be able to go back and get what he hid.

          • WillS,
            I think that Paul is referring to abandoned property as it is defined in lost and abandoned property laws that most jurisdictions have. Those laws have been written to address how found property is handled, with the idea that found property must have either been lost or abandoned by someone. We know that Forrest didn’t lose the chest, so it must fall under the abandoned category.

            Or we could just call it littering, dumping a bunch of scrap metal in a special spot like that! 🙂

      • Pretty timely to see this pop up again. I was hiking through some publicly owned neighborhood trails this morning wondering exactly this.

        Probability seems reasonable to me considering my read on the clues. He did say he sat by the road to consider his lot in life. S-O-C-K-S. What was considered Dreamland in the Black Forest has some great views of Pike’s Peak in some spots. “Life is a Dream” and Caulderon seems important. Detention Pond on Kettle Creek seems relevant. You can see a couple of good maps in the Black Forest Master Plan. One looks like the running man blaze. The other has some nice asterisks.

        I couldn’t do a thorough search but the area looks pretty intriguing.

      • I tried to find the ‘media’ link on this blog and can’t seem to see it. I remember there was a media event and ff stated that there would not be a problem – if you find it, it’s yours. I thought it was a web exclusive to another interview. IMO because I don’t know where the media links are but I believe there is no legal issue.

          • Just watched the FF interview. I would assume Mr. Fenn would have consulted an attorney, so he’s up on the legalities. He mentioned that if one was to find it in a Federal/National Park, that one would be required to turn it into the Park Superindendent. That is true- and it becomes the property of the Park at that point- 100%. If you find it on State land you are required to take it to the police and the same thing will happen. If you find in on public property you are also required to bring it to the police, who will then issue an declaration of unclaimed property. The owner of the property is then given anywhere from 3 months to a year (depending upon the state), to answer. If no answer occurs, it becomes an abandoned property and the finder is granted 100% ownership- and is now liable for all the taxes.

            Where it gets murky in FF’s case, is that this is already high-publicized, willfully abandoned property- so it is my opinion that there is no requirement to give to the police at all, as we already know the treasure’s status. What I do believe will happen however is that the state in which it was found, will require the finder to prove his innocence. Seems un-American, but the IRS is the only court in the US where you are guilty first, and have to prove you’re innocent. The finder will essentially need to walk the state’s officials through how he/she found it. My advice would be to document everything you’re doing on your searches- as it will all be necessary in court.

        • I would like to believe you’re right. Anyone involved in the out-of-doors, with native groups, ARPA, etc, and for as long as FF has been around, should know about property and domain rights, so my gut would tell me that the treasure has been placed on public lands- not only to insulate the finder, but to protect FF and his family as well, from any legalities. In fact, I’d be shocked at any other scenario. I still believe however, that the finder will be required to prove that he/she did indeed find it on public lands- and that will likely mean a public deciphering of the clues as well.

        • crow-
          Look on the right side of the blog, near the top..
          Click on “Most Important Info”
          You will see the “Media Coverage” on that list…click on that and it will take you to all the media stories in our archives..

      • I know a Paul Stewart but I don’t think he knows this much about legal stuff! Very interesting info!

      • Hi Paul! Thanks for posting this. I too have come up with similar research on this as I have been contiplating these scenarios for the last 13 months. I appreciate the info you gave but still would like to discuss further questions with you if you are willing. Any chance we could make that happen some time?

      • After mulling this over I’ve concluded that Forrest’s treasure is not a treasure trove under the definition despite his use of the term. The owner (person placing the treasure) and his heirs can be known. Unlike the Pueblo he is excavating where he is both the finder and landholder and the owners are not likely to be found.
        I have further concluded that it is not lost or abandoned property as Forrest knows where it is and has occasionally said I may go back and get it someday.
        My best take is that it is a gift to the finder from Forrest and others (wife) and that he is responsible for the gift tax…but that he has made carefully planned arrangements so that he doesn’t eclipse his lifetime estate exclusion of $5.34 million.
        Forrest is a shrewd man and chooses his words and deeds carefully…thats how he survived and became rich in the art and antiquity world.

    • Folks that want to make plans for their Fenn treasure retrieval should take a good gander here…above and below. Even early in the Chase folks spent lots of time on this subject. A lot of chickens have never come to fruition…

    • I think the gift scenario is the most likely and legally simplest method for Forrest to transfer ownership of the treasure. There are some ways to raise the gift tax exclusion limit, such as “gift in trust”, through a Crummey Trust or similar trust structure. In fact it’s highly likely that Forrest committed the treasure to a trust, because since he didn’t know if he would live to see the treasure found, he would have had to have had his lawyer prepare for any eventuality.

  2. You can bet your bottom dollar that, if ,and when the “trove” is found, the Feds will be all over it like bees on honey! NPS,BLM,IRS and a slew of other government agencies will pounce on the chance to stake a claim for their fair share.I say,Good luck all and have a good exit strategy in place just in case you get lucky.From what I understand,possession accounts for 9/10 of the law.Some of my research shows that individual states have significant differences in how they handle “found treasure”.Case law in a surprising number of circumstances seems to favor the finder. I guess we will only find out for sure if some “wise” soul finds it! Good luck all you seekers and be smart and safe. ps, If I get lucky, the first person I will call(after exiting the area) will be f.

  3. Mapsmith makes some good points……The problem these days is all powerful government agencies making up their own rules……If they say you don’t get it, then you don’t get it……..Case law no longer applies. Maybe you would win if you took it to the Supreme Court.

    So there’s good news and bad news…….Good news is you found a million dollar treasure……bad news is it will cost two million to keep it.

    • Fenn has already said if you get arrested I’ll come help bail you out…Don’t think he’ll have to but, never know…. I think the treasure has already been so exposed to major media… and if found the government doesn’t stand a chance in court… “we the people shall overthrow tyrannical government..” The more we publicize the less chance the government has of making up their own rules, right! They would look like total commies if they tried snatch a hard earned treasure! Like stealing candy from a baby! lol

  4. Respectfully, let us just not get the horse before the cart. I grow weary of peoples’ paranoia politic a la Fox News and the evil empire, et. al. No self respecting citizen would be required by anyone to do anything if he is wise and tarries not, going in peace with the chest. If it is I, it will be as if the wind passed by and nothing more. You dust devils are on your own.

  5. In my experience talking with officials charged with administrating various federal lands, they don’t express the same ideas that Mapsmith does. I have been told over and over again that if I find something on lands they are charged to protect
    it will not belong to me. I almost always get the feeling that they are not even particularly happy that I am looking.
    Forrest has said that there was nowhere he could hid the treasure that would not involve some potential complications. The legal questions certainly have all sorts of potential complications. Circumstances could easily come into play where the wise finder would be SOL on the entire treasure, and Forrest would not even get his bracelet back. Just Sayin’.
    Even a good lawyer could believe that he could build an airtight case for you to keep the treasure and lose in court.

    Maybe the answer is to get it into your possession and well clear of its hiding place. Then just force any folks who want to take legal action to prove where you found it. The burden of proof is on them and you have your 5th Amendment right to remain silent.
    Phillip Mason

  6. @Mr. Moose: Respectfully, aren’t you basically agreeing with the other posters…….You are going to get the chest as if breaking wind, then run and hide…..surely not from your utopian government?

  7. I believe I will just “Take the chest and go in peace”…. After sending Mr. Fenn the bracelet in a no finger print, unmarked, no return address certified mail package… Maybe even a little something for Dal too.

  8. Going in peace is certainly the way to go. Whooping & hollering , despite it not being the old west anymore, will increase your likelihood of getting robbed. I plan to be a silent ninja. The Flashlight in fact makes more sense now…. In order to go in alone, you might have to go in after hours when crowds aren’t there. ‘A flashlight’s only required if you’re searching at night’…. Hmm.
    Earned income makes most sense if he’s going with the lost and found bracelet approach : “thanks for finding my bracelet, you SE treasure hunter, here’s your 42 lb tip”.

  9. Find the chest, take it to a bank safe deposit box (under the radar), call MGM and ask how much they would pay for the movie rights, (1 million is fine for me), Get amnesty from the Governor of Wyoming (its in Yellowstone) telling the Governor that Yellowstone will get incredible free exposure from the movie (filmed properly, it could lure many thousands to Yellowstone) in exchange for the right to keep the chest and contents tax free. Give half the treasure to charity as it will make you feel better, benefit the charity, and make for a better ending to the movie.

    • That idea is rubbish. I’m happy that we are competing to find the treasure because with ideas like that you won’t find squat.

      • Well apparently I did find a person whose leg was pulled and didnt know it. Apparently. 🙂 And I already found “squat”……so that shows how much you know.

  10. Yes…but give 75%…set a precedent. Now who will play me in the movie….smiles. Johnny Dep! Too cool!

  11. Sorry…I woke up feeling great! dal…I was thinking Johnny Dep for me and Walter Brimley for you. grins.

  12. No doubt the treasure location plays a factor in the “legal opinion” of this matter.And Forrest seems to make this issue a non discussion area.Forrest’s comment about paying income tax was a basic Forrest Sidestep.He only mentioned people had to pay income tax on earned income.He certainly is not gonna show you a letter from his taxman or lawyer.A person has a legal right to give away without paying any taxes up to $5,000,000.00 and again,Forrest is not about to tell any of us how he has accounted for this obvious gift.
    He has said that if you don’t know the rules then you better stay home and play canasta.
    I know how I would handle the gift.
    Maybe ya’ll could use it to promote good works thru a ministry ?

    The Universal Life Church has no traditional doctrine. We as an organization believe in that which is right. Each individual has the privilege and responsibility to determine what is right for themselves, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others. We do not stand between you and your God. We are active advocates of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.

    WE ARE ADVOCATES OF THE GOOD LIFE! We want to be competent, to be proficient, to be cooperative, to love our fellow man, to appreciate, to be humble, to be honest, to be moral, to live positively, to be what we profess.

    Universal Life Church, Headquarters
    601 Third St. Modesto, CA 95351

    You are about to become an ordained minister of the
    Universal Life Church, Modesto, California.

  13. Purchase and sales of investment grade coins are considered a private transaction and are not reported to the federal or state government or the IRS. Most of what is in the chest are just that, I don’t know about the jewelry.

  14. So I asked Forrest this question and received no response so I’ll ask here. Say you find it, how would you sell the “ancient” gold items, how do you tell someone how you came to possess such items? Who do you take them to, to have the items certified as “ancient”? Lots of questions to be answered.

    • I think truth proves more entertaining than fiction: “How’d you come to possess?”
      “Easy; just follow the obvious clues in this 24 line poem!”
      Otherwise: “it was a reward for a lost & found item” seems legit on all legal counts.

      As far as selling -which isnt necessarily the best investment/option/Value for some people-, I believe there’s 3 ways to attack it:
      1- Sell as an unbroken set to a dealer of antiquities or other collector or Fenn-atic, directly: someone who’ll recognize and appreciate the pieces. Someone who possibly will keep your name secret.
      2. Sell by ounce to your local coin shop. Easiest offload, best privacy, and quickest cash, but least return though. By far.
      3- auction it all as “Forrest Fenn’s treasure” as a set or aka carte: preferably through a reputable house, not eBay. Hire a lawyer, kiss privacy goodbye, and prepare to pay taxes, but the gamble is the auction pushes the 800,000 original value to the press-inflated 3 million and you still take home 7 figures.

      As far as appraisals, an art dealer or antique dealer might be a good place to start; there’s one experienced such person in Santa Fe that might be especially good at certifying the provenance, and whether it was truly Mr Fenn’s. …might only cost you a bracelet. 🙂

        • Forrest would be the first person I’d want to contact so I could return the bracelet to him, if he really did want it back. Hopefully he would have some good ideas about what to do with the rest of the treasure. I wonder if he contacted a lawyer before he hid it? Maybe that’s why the Line “I give you title to the gold” is in the poem. 🙂

          • Ahh wise words, go in peace.

            Note to self. Find chest be quiet and run like the wind. Return bracelet.

      • I always thought auction through sotheby’s, or maybe Christies. Some place with a huge list of high dollar collectors. You could probably put a reserve on it to insure you get a premium for it.

        It would be silly to not make the most of it, even if you happen to get unwanted attention from it.

      • Ok lets say the treasure is worth 3 mill alone. This chase continues to get bigger everyday there’s thousand and thousands of people that wanna get thier hand on Forrest’s chest the value only goes up everyday and forrest is also gaining more popularity everyday. There’s a lot of fennatics and I’m sure are willing to pay a good price when all said and done. If the chest is worth 3 mill I think the popularity of it knocks it up double the price. There’s only one forrest fenn treasure and I’m sure even museums would want it. I think mr fenn knows exactly what to do with it ounce the lucky person get it he probly already has buyer asking for it ounce it’s found. The only way to find out is to first find the chest

      • I would hate the spotlight but love the money it could bring. I wonder if F would give a letter of verification. I think # 1 would prove to be the most profitable.

        • Three million IS the press -inflated price, guys. The original estimate on the chest was 800K/not quite a million. It gets rounded up every year, even though the price of gold has not in fact tripled 🙂

          When daydreaming about the what ifs, I’m often torn between maximum payout vs the privacy of a smaller yet quiet sale. Thing that sways me to lean toward ‘less profit’: The reminder that there’s three things that once you lose them, they’re gone: your virginity, your integrity, and your privacy.

          • If asking Forrest isn’t an option, I’d bribe Dal to take the spot light and possibly make a movie or book series out of it…. while I walk out the back door with the non traceables. To me it’s not about the amount of money I get out of it. It would be all the life experiences I gained during the chase. Memories are something that can never be taken away… it’s up to you to remember them.

          • There are lots of undisclosed sales made through Sothebys.

            There are always ways to minimize taxes. Hasnt that last 6 years taught us all that?

            Dont sweat the small stuff, until you find the treasure. 🙂

  15. Well it’s definitely food for thought. Thanks all for the relies. Never crossed my mind to try Southebys. It’s the taxes that make it hard to go the public route.

    • The tax implications are simple to deal with.

      Simply go to your tax preparer who is registered to practice before the IRS.

      Tax preparers who have been registered the longest probably have the best grasp of the real interpretation of rules.

      Most likely the preparer is also a financial planner and discuss claiming / not claiming the treasure chest as a gift.

      I would recommend using the advice of such a preparer and if they are not already your preparer,make them your preparer.

      I see it as the chest is a gift to anonymous donee.

      It is not a contest per say as the donor has stated the only thing needed to find the chest is the poem which he also put out into the public as a gift.

      The IRS is a Fickle Beast and if you don’t know the rules then as Forrest says “stay home and play canasta”.

      ” Canasta originated in Uruguay in the late 1940s; its name (meaning “basket”) is probably a reference to the tray for holding discards. ”

      Yup,Might as well throw it away into a basket.

    • I heard Forrest say that whoever finds it can take it to him and he will help them with what they can do with it. Not sure where he said that but I think it was maybe the Collected Works interview (Oct) or the one before that.

      • He’s a very smart man and probably would help us better than anyone in order to come up with the best plan. Whether that be financial, privacy or otherwise. I’m going straight to him when I find it. 😉

  16. I’d assault the riches of the box like a thief. Champagne!
    Oooh tiny bubbles!
    A condo overlooking my dock on my ocean where I keep my small dingy!
    Jeeves my hat!

  17. Forrest has stated in the past that he has placed a copy of his 20,000 micro printed bio in the bronze chest. In normal printing, the bio would be less than 40 pages. Forrest has said almost nothing about the bio in his vast interviews. If a searcher found the chest would the finder be allowed to reprint and distribute the bio for monetary gain? It is a mystery to me why more information has not been provided it this area. There must be a legal caveat somewhere pertaining to its actual use.

    • Don, I never considered this to the finding of the chest and the autobiography. It’s hard for me to imagine any publisher being interested in publishing only 40 pages, except maybe as an Ebub file for those interested in f and the treasure hunt. I’m not sure what the legalities of calling it an “autobiography” are but, if the finder just used the info in it and wanted to change the wording a bit and publish it as a plain “biography”, I would think that would be legal. I could be wrong though, as I have been before, but don’t tell my spouse because I tell him I’m never wrong. 🙂

      • In the US, my understanding is that Copyright attaches to a work of authorship as soon as it’s created.
        That olivejar biography is copyright protected!!
        Unless FF has specifically waived it via Creative Commons license , OR granted a ‘non-exclusive license’, the only kind that can be made without written contract. However, you should know that a copyright owner can revoke Non exclusive license at whim.

    • Forrest has publicly commented that he has 3 unfinished books on his computer. I would be willing to bet one of those is his autobiography.

      He has recently been introducing his grandson Shiloh as being the family member who is learning the publishing end of his business.

      Both those statements were made at the last book signing at Collected Works.

  18. This may sound ridiculous, maybe even a little arrogant but.. As i did some research on the poem today i stumbled upon what I think is the entire key to unlocking the poem and locating the treasure. After a couple hours I believe i have located where the chest is, I am not arrogant enough to say its 100% because I don’t have the chest in my possession, however i plan on making a trip to the spot within a couple weeks if i can get a week off work.

    With that being said, I’m Canadian. I am not sure what kind of trouble I would have if i did find the chest, how I would get it home? Could i get it across the border without troubles? Has this subject been touched upon at all?

    Either way, I will let everyone know how the trip went with a detailed explanation on how i came to checking this spot, maybe my method will help others.

    • Just spend it all south of the border, and you’ll be fine 😉

      Seriously – if you’re bringing your own car, just stow it like Han Solo would. There’s no gold-sniffing K-9 units to my knowledge.

      So D, which of the 4 states did you choose for your solution ?

      • I have thought about that, of course if I do get pulled in and searched the border patrol would yank that trove so fast I wouldn’t know what to do.

        I do plan on visiting Mr Fenn if I do find it, maybe he will be more knowledgeable in the matter. Even if i dont find it, I might head down to his house and Thank him personally for igniting a fire in me and everyone who has gone hunting. It would be amazing to hear some stories too 🙂

        I am not giving any information out about where I plan to look, I will once i have checked the area and share what I learned. 🙂 Check back next Sunday if everything goes according to plan i will let you know everything.

    • Damian – –
      I don’t think you would have a problem taking the treasure to Canada. Years ago – (1990’s) My wife and I drove a 1963 Corvair into Canada with our parrot in a cage on her lap. I didn’t have any “papers” for the bird. The officials at the Canadian border just said “Go ahead but don’t let your bird mingle with ours.”
      When we went back to the U.S., OUR border patrol raised a huge stink, detained the bird, contacted Fish and Wildlife. Threatened jail time and a $10,000 fine. For taking OUR bird back home.
      I know times have changed, but you are not bringing anything illegal or regulated across the border.

      • idahoel, depends on where you found the treasure as to whether or not it is anything illegal or regulated. 🙂

        • OK, so document EACH ITEM in the chest, put each in it’s own ziplock bag with a serial no. Get a letter from Mr. Fenn documenting transfer of title. Take all this to the border and only declare it if you are asked specifically for that type of item. You are returning home from a vacation to the U.S. I would also carry enough U.S. cash in reserve notes to match the dollar amount stated on all the U.S. coins. I see a reason for this.
          If you have to declare the items, get each item with serial no. documented on a receipt. Eventually you will get it all back. If you pay taxes on ot, so what? You will get much more back selling each individual item than just the gold value.

    • Well, I drove 2400km’s to where i think the chest is located. It was a difficult climb, there was 1-2 feet of snow, so I couldn’t follow the path the poem laid out for me. I tried 3 different methods to get into the area without the trail but i had to abandon them all for the day. I went back out today with the idea of going into the area by going up the backside of the mountain where there was less snow. It worked pretty well, It still took a while but i did manage to get up there, only problem was at the top of the ridge was 3 feet of snow. HOWEVER, when i got to the area where i thought the blaze was i saw something amazing. The remains of a small wildfire, i believe i was still on the wrong side of what i think ‘the blaze’ is because i went up the backside, and couldn’t follow the poem. I still pushed the snow away from burned up trees that were still standing just to say i at least looked.

      As soon as the snow has disappeared i will be heading back out here. Been an incredible trip, i thought i would be disappointed if I couldn’t find it, but it is the complete opposite, I leave with optimism and the knowledge i gained by braving the cold. And the fact that i got off my ass and tried to look for it puts a smile on my face 🙂

        • Seriously !!!
          Nice job Damian !! Puts a smile on all our faces! So which state of the 4 did you end up in? (Can’t quite tell from the info here). I’ve got my ten solutions whittled down to 9, and in MT or WY. 🙂

  19. I wanted to add the following link – this is about the $10 million treasure trove just found in California.

    Quoted a 2013 tax guide in which the IRS stated: “If you find and keep property that does not belong to you that has been lost or abandoned (treasure-trove), it is taxable to you at its fair market value in the first year it is in your undisputed possession.”

    The whole article is here:

    Hopefully, by giving “Title” and FF’s treasure not being “lost” nor “abandoned” this doesn’t apply. If it does, I’d give FF’s trove a fair market value of roughly $50. LOL

    • It’s not “Lost” nor “Abandoned” because Forrest Knows exactly where it is… So the law can’t be enforced.

      • By definition – Anyone who abandons something knows where they abandoned it.

  20. Trove, in some cases, defines a stash of mostly coins, specifically, containing a majority of gold or silver coins, and in certain situations as defined by law, they are indeed ‘ finders keepers’: even in federal property – even inside Nat’l Parks and NFS lands.

    That said, I got some very good advice from a very good lawyer: if you find the chest, document everything – and then, this part was brilliant, he said: make sure have documentation that proves you found it where and when you did, but also prepare equal or stronger documentation that you did not find it when nor where you did, but instead found it earlier at some other place entirely, because both could be incredible useful in different court situations. 🙂

    • Mapsmith, are you saying that an attorney gave you advice to falsify documents and make false statements?

      The consequences for doing so could be far greater.

      • Oh, sorry for the miscommunication – I did not mean to imply an attorney advised me to build multiple documentations for various locations and times (and specifically, by omission (like non-GPS stamped photography), not by intentional fiction or falsification, obviously) – what actually happened , to the best of my recollection, was the attorney shared with me some scams and techniques he’d had the misfortune of overhearing about, where grifter/scammers successfully used falsified claims/fiction to get treasures/windfalls out of the hands of honest finders. I myself made the leap (as a person who sometimes gets paid to do LE-related work & collect said evidence for clients) as to what appropriate action to take in order to thwart said grifters/scammers.
        😉 all writing on this page is parody and/or for entertainment purposes only.

  21. Curious, under what conditions would providing a false find location protect you? I would think that in a court of law they would end up calling in F to testify and he would most likey be compelled to refute your false story creating a larger problem.

    It would seem that pretending to “return” the TC to F and having him actually title it over to you would be a better move. Then you make the case that you returned misplaced personal property. The way I read the laws, the “trove” term seems to pertain more to historically buried gold….greater than 50 years old. But I’m not a lawyer.

    • Trove does not require it to be buried, leastways, not in meek’s inheritance. 😉

      Lawyers thinknof things that would never occur to others: having proof of finding elsewhere than the real spot is possibly useful in tort/lawsuit situation: if someone successfully ‘proves’ to the court they had a bonafide claim on that spot (like, falsifying that they were there first, or registered a BLM gold claim, or something similar), being able to prove you DIDN’T find it there/then becomes very useful indeed.

  22. Forrest is an old man. If you wait a few years he probably won’t be able to testify….not to be morbid.

    • FF may yet live to be 116 for all you know. In fact, I’d wager his odds are better than the average joe, (as is his luck).
      That’s 32 or so years from now, so there’s non-zero odds he could outlive several searchers.

      Besides, if legal/court Bullpucky got so convoluted that FF was pulled into court, all he’d have to do is say “ah, my chest! Thanks for finding it! I lost that around 2009/2010 and have been asking people to help me find it ever since!!” And walk away with exhibit A 🙂

    • That is morbid, and as clever as Forrest is, he may have figured a way to continue testifying right on through the doorway to eternity.

  23. I say be prepared to keep your mouth shut, or pay the taxes and risk dealing with the BLM, etc. If they don’t know where you found it-they can’t do anything. Take the chest and go in peace.

  24. Don’t care much for the legalities that may be implied surrounding the finding of the chest in any location, they are all moot…

    The wording in the poem says…”I must go and leave my trove for all to seek”…

    It is not lost, it is not abandoned, it is not buried…It was purposely placed in a secret location by Mr. Fenn specifically for someone else to find…

    The one person who can solve the poem and go get it…

    Until that occurs “my trove” indicates the chest remains the property of Mr. Fenn, no one else may lay a claim on it for that reason…

    It is truly finders keepers where ever it may lie hidden…

  25. …”You don’t have to prove anything, just keep your mouth closed,” Fenn said of the eagle feathers, according to the affidavit. Law-enforcement officers have “got to prove you obtained it illegally, and I’ve never bought or sold anything that was illegal.”


    By Tom Sharpe
    “The New Mexican”

    And I never found anything illegally.

  26. I believe ff’s decision to have a military aircraft “set down” in an unauthorized lz at the top of the waterfall speaks of his innermost feelings about government control. Following this train of thought as regards the finding of the chest, he is saying “take the chest and go in peace” or mind your “peace” and q’s. The government’s potential maneuvering for ownership of the chest is without merit and should be protested against by using surreptitious methods to conceal the discovery of said chest. King George is dead and we aint gonna give his imperial successor in the USA our stuff in this “land of the free and home of the brave”!

  27. If those involve, as well as anyone else of course, in the conversation from the nine clues section about the treasures vs trove issue I would enjoy to continue that discussion. It is going to be very interesting to see it pan out if and when they chest is found and made public.

  28. I have moved this over here at the request of Dal – now if I ever see another code/cypher comment on the nine clues I will be up in arms to move it to the fiction section – ha ha

    I have done extensive research on this topic (common law) and I have talked to several lawyers and sheriifs on this specific matter.

    There are 4 classes of common law that deal with this matter:
    Lost, mislaid, abandoned property and treasure trove.
    One specific lawyer that I discussed with under a specific case said that he didn’t think it fell exactly under any of these main criterial becasue it was purposely hidden and intent, etc would have to be considered and thus it would have no president and a settlement between land owner and finder would likely ensue.

    With that said, I initially argued that this was a treasure trove and that FF stated as such so that law should favour the finder, however note that it is unlikely the finder can keep the trove if they trespass or break the law to find or remove it.

    When I looked at it closer, I could see that the Fenn treasure does not qualify as a treasure trove, mainly because a treasure trove has to be hidden for a specific period of time, some courts have ruled at least 12 years but others indicate 35-50 years and this is based on the main premise that the treasure needs to be hidden sufficiently long ago that the original owner can be considered dead or not discoverable. So maybe eventually it may be a trove, but not as long as Mr. Fenn is alive.

    Based on the last criteria of time, that leaves this to be most likely abandoned property. In which case, you locate the owner to confirm his intentions and then that is by defualt the true owner and that is where the treasure should go. That doesn’t mean that the land owner won’t try and lay claim to this. Many police officers are ignorant to the law and do not recognize common law and thus they will seize the property and side with the land owner of which then you would have to deal with the courts. One sheriff once told me that the best case is that they would defer to the DA for a ruling.

    I tried to use the lost wallet analogy. If I would a wallet on some ones land is it the land owners wallet? Of couse this is lost property, but I used it to make the point that just because you own the land and possesion is 9/10s of the law doesn’t mean that the other 1/10 is disregarded.

    Common sense says that the treasure should go to the original owner and they will then dictate their desires to have it back or give it away. From all of this I learned that sheriffs do not always have common sense, so be prepared to go to court unless you carefully prearrange with the owners of the land a sharing agreement .

    • Sorry to all – there were about three other follow up comments that Dal deleted from the nine clue section that belonged here and I don’t feel like retyping them.

    • Wolf,

      When it come to private property the law is very clear. The property owner gains custody. This has some leeway to such as; another’s property left that is uncontrollable. example; a vehicle that was left on the property is still titled to the owner of the vehicle and doesn’t be come the property of the land owner, with other factors involved.

      The use of the word trove in the poem represent, Not only of value, but not having ownership to… unlike the word treasure is possession to one and only has value to that one.

      I believe fenn did the best under the circumstance to use this term trove as passing on ownership. “so hear me all and listen good” represent in part a last will and testament. “Your effort { the challenge the Author present } will { passing on ownership, Normally a pond death… but also takes it out of remaining families possession} .. I give title { ownership…} to the gold { the chest and condense}

      In an article Fenn was asked about private land to public land. His response was { paraphrasing } He was not concerned about that… and it would be fun to see how it unfolds }.

      • Dal was kind enough to send me my original comment as follows:

        Excellent germanguy,

        The use of treasure is possession important to on. The word possession enacts ownership, as well as the possessions only valuable to that owner. Think alone the lines as a youth whom places his favorite Baseball cards in an old cigar box.

        The use of the words trove is shown of having value, but no ownership. In the case of trove the finder claims ownership. There are some case laws to this affect.

        But alas the laws have changed / added / and challenged through-out the years, as well as, Land rights of the public as whole. It would still be an interesting development to see what becomes of the trove when found.

        But I’ll ask this question; does the use of the the word Treasure[s] , in the poem, actually pertain to the chest only?

        • I think Forrest has many treasure’s in his hidden box, that mean a great deal to him. There for you may be right to mutable meanings to treasure’s . But I read it as what he placed there for someone to find. Just my thought.This is a very interesting topic. Seeings how, I never would even think of coming to the point of understanding the poem let alone the end of one finding it. I better learn to think ahead more. Good stuff Ty

      • Actually Seeker you would be surprised that to know that if you can link the find to common law then its finders keepers (that is layman’s term for common law). What you sited was exactly what the sheriff believed because they don’t know how and when to apply common law. There are very few of these cases out there as a president, so the property owner confusion often arises.

        The problem with application of treasure trove – it applies for older finds and is meant to be the rule when certain type of valuables are found and the owner is either dead or believed not to be alive.

        • Treasure trove vs Abandoned property:

          The following are some notes that I have captured over time doing my research.

          Treasure trove has the thought of antiquity: A find of money must have been concealed
          so long that it is unlikely that the true owner will re-appear before a court will
          consider it treasure trove. This language originated in a 1956 Oregon case where the
          money had been concealed for less than a year. The courts have not enunciated a
          bright line rule as to how many years will allow a find to be considered treasure
          trove. The consensus appears to be several decades, perhaps three or more. A 2001
          case decided that eleven years was too little time for a find to be considered treasure
          trove;27 a 1995 case considered that thirty-five years might be sufficient;28 a 1991
          case stated that fifty-nine years might be sufficient.29 Thus a coin hoard is treated as
          treasure trove if it is old enough; otherwise, it is treated as lost, abandoned, or mislaid.

          • Wolf,

            Agree, not only with your assessments but your information as well.

            This falls in line with germanguys original comment about Treasure vs. trove use of words. Not remembering what was exactly stated, but the reason trove is being used in stanza 5 rather than the use of treasure. And i believe in part, the reason fenn used each word in each place of the poem is for what has been stated so far.

            Which raise the question, Is “treasure[s]” having anything to do with “trove” or is treasures representing something different than tangible items?

          • Seeker,
            After all my research into trove vs abandoned property, I really only discovered one small difference with respect to ownership and it didn’t matter in this case.

            That difference is trove goes to finder and abandoned property goes to original owner (Fenn) and since original owner says finder can have it – then the end result is the same.

    • I forgot to add to my above post that finding the trove illegally by trespassing and or removing it, even though you are legally on the land could be considered illegal, even if you give it to Mr. Fenn. I thought this might be the safer way to do things but then it became blatantly clear the law says you can’t remove property that is not yours from land that is not yours. The proper procedure is to give it to authorities/ land owner and then go from there. Maybe this is why Mr. Fenn feels that he would know.

      Of couse if you don’t follow the law, and just take it, the value of the trove will be significanlty less because you will have to go to the black market to unload it. If you plan to take it and give it to Mr. Fenn, and he then tells everyone where he hid it, and it was discovered that you removed it illegally then you could very well be in trouble. In the end, all of this was not worth the risk to me and doing everything legally was what I decided from all of this research.
      The Wolf

      • I read some where that it is the finders obligation to turn it in. So I believe your spot on on this one wolf. Even if its on land that is owned by someone else I know I don’t own any land. so chances are you will have some connection to it in the end. After all you will be the Finder of Fenn’s trove. Who’s going to discredit you for that. The Indians will love you for your gift. The state will love you for their gift and the people will hate you for ending a wonderful thing. There must be a happy medium in there some where. It might be better to go in piece but I would just do it legal therefore the end would manifest its self. I didn’t have much to start with so whats the difference. Maybe they will put a knew attraction where ever it is hidden who knows a knew zip line so people can say weee. Or if its in a place they need to clean up or repair from Fenn’s youth to make it a better place who knows . I hope we all find out the information when and if the story ever unfolds.That’s something worth living for. I side with legal.

        • Jeff, I am not a lawyer (but I got myself off of some speeding tickets) however I did consult a few lawyers and some law enforcement folks and I described my elaborate plan in my book (thank you Jeff for your purchase and supporting cancer research by the way).

          That is why my plan on recovery had to be what it was. I put a tremendous amount of “what if research into that search and in the end I thought I had a very good plan that I felt I would have prevailed in the end.


      It appears Ranger Tim Reid has finally come to his senses and now admits if you find it in a national park (while not breaking park rules) it is abandoned property, finally he understands my “lost wallet analogy.”

      “Treasure hunting is not illegal in Yellowstone, but there’s a whole host of regulations that govern the preservation and use of national parks,” says Tim Reid, chief ranger at Yellowstone. “Metal detectors are illegal, digging is illegal, and you can’t remove any natural or cultural feature from the park.” If somebody were to find the Fenn treasure within the boundaries of Yellowstone, or any national park, it would be considered abandoned property, Reid says. “It’s not ‘finders, keepers.’ You would have to turn it in and go through a governmental procedure to lay claim to it.”

      As far as BLM lands go there is a little more common sense:

      One of the main legal distinctions hinges on whether the chest is buried; Fenn has hinted that it’s not. “On BLM land in New Mexico, as long as it’s not buried, if somebody found the chest, they would be permitted to take it,” says Allison Sandoval, a BLM representative in Santa Fe.

      Thus in summary, BML and National Parks are in play as long as it isn’t buried. Finally some people are starting to understand Common Law!

        • Dal makes a good point in the article…

          “but as Neitzel points out, Fenn hid the treasure without anybody seeing him do it, so somebody should be able to get the chest without getting caught by authorities. “The poem says ‘take the chest and go in peace,’ which may imply that a searcher shouldn’t make a fuss about where it was found,” Mason says.”

          “Forrest has said that there was nowhere he could have hid the treasure that would not involve some potential complications,” Mason says. “Maybe the answer is to take it clear of its hiding place and keep quiet about it.”

          • I agree keep quiet about it…….I wouldn’t have a problem keeping quiet. I would tell my wife but she can keep a secret, especially if I tell her how much we would owe in taxes if anyone found out about it.

            Telling my kids would be the same thing as putting it on the front page of the Dallas Morning News. 🙂

            There’s so many people out having fun looking for the treasure it would be ashamed to spoil their fun……And I would think the longer it takes to find the treasure the more it would appreciate.

            If Fenn put some sort of incentive in the chest to tell him when it was found that would change the calculation. But it would have to be a very large incentive to persuade me to come forward.

  29. 42,
    If the treasure was placed on FF’s personal property or a trusted relation. then that would be the simplest.  Your second assumption has issues.  At first glance (it tis the peoples property) federal property makes sense but this is why I think it could be a very bad idea. First, because it is the people’s property public opinion will weigh in to the law. Yah that is right if the public says give it to them you are fine, but if they turn against you, your screwed.  I look at it as a foreigner finding it and they pay no tax would the people like that or would they fight that because an American citizen would have to pay tax.

    Next, the feds are slow and they have lots of money to waste on principle, so if they press your pockets are not deep enough even if you are likely to win.

    Case for private ownership land:  They don’t have deep pockets and don’t want to go to court anymore than you do. They are easier to deal with and consider the negative fallback that effect their reputation and or economic viability.  Just imagine if poor single mom Mary and her little special needs child find the treasure and the business owner tries to take it from them, their media would destroy that business in a heart beat.

    In the end, I actually think that making a deal with the land owner would be the simplest.

    I believe the best case scenario (form my research) is that an unincorporated town or municipality do not have any claim at all and would be the best case scenario.

    The Wolf

    • I also noticed that in some instances: land owner and use of land and which category of common law this falls under (if you can make that case successfully) also have stipulations on whether it was buried or hidden.  Buried is much more complicated and works against you because you would be breaking the law just to find it by performing an illegal act, despite whether you plan on leaving it there or contact the owner after you found it.
      The Wolf

      • that is a very good point wolf. Private property can bring in more headaches than the public land issue IMO.

        If to think how fenn may have thought… two things come to mind. Public land, for the fact it’s own by the people. This would interesting to Fenn as to see what the outcome would be. Fenn’s private land or affiliated in some way as to have interest in the land. All other private land IMO is off limits. And I believe he knows it and respects it as well.

    • Dal, asked to move this here for those that care about legal aspects not for those who don’t.

      The reason one might care is that if you wait to know and try and understand this stuff after you find it, you risk loosing it because of actions that were illegal in the process of finding it.

      How would you feel if you unknowingly trespassed, illegally disturbed soil to find the trove or some other act you thought was legal, only to loose it in court due to ignorance of the law.

      There have been several people charged already just for looking, the wise and knowledgable searcher will not only find it but will keep it.

      • Wolf, here is a question maybe you can answer or maybe someone else can. I have thought about this because he says he thought of everything so land ownership of the hiding place may be an important clue. What about the legalities of hiding or removing it from land owned by a non-profit corporation that is designated for public use? I am thinking of perhaps a park, garden, or museum grounds (that sort of thing) that is open for public use, but owned and controlled by a non-profit corporation. There would be no trespassing issue, no private owner claim issues, and no state or fed ownership. Any ideas on this?

        • Jack,
          That is an excellent question. I am not a lawyer so I can only give an opinion. IMO, the situation and circumstances will always dictate thus there is never an easy answer. Thus NPO will have different circumstances depending on the many variables. In general, again the land owner has rights and under the common law, the finder has certain rights. If you are not trespassing and find a treasure in a park then I believe ownership is in your favour. If you dig in a park (not the intended use of the park) you may be in trouble for conducting illegal activity to get that treasure and thus that could be deemed trespassing. Each NPO will react differently so you have to understand what is their policies and intentions.

          Again, consult a lawyer or two and trust me you may have to ask many to get the answer since almost all lawyers are unfamiliar with common law since it is rarely applicable. Universities are probably a better source since they teach this stuff that is never used – lol
          The Wolf

          • Thanks Wolf, I was thinking along the same lines but have tried researching this question and haven’t been able to find an adequate answer. But I keep thinking that if he thought of everything, then that type of hiding place is a good possibility. Also a logical extension of that might be that it is not buried for the reasons you pointed out.

            Maybe if found there, a generous donation to the NPO would avoid any legal drama. 🙂

  30. In cases of trespass, there are some defenses available to the defendant to justify the trespass. However, ignorance or mistake of law or fact is not an excuse for trespass[i].

    One of the defenses is the title and possession of the property[ii]. To invoke this defense, the person must have the actual ownership of property along with the title. The person in actual possession has the right to maintain an action for trespass against all persons other than the original owner[iii]. Thus, a trespass is privileged if the defendant is a bonafide purchaser, and has an ownership claim over the property.

    – See more at:

  31. I’d like to share with you something I have been working on for a while. I often pondered Fenn’s use of the word trove in the poem. One definition for ‘trove’ is a treasure (which I know is quite obvious), However, why would Fenn use it in the poem?

    What I propose, is that he used to word to define exactly what his treasure was. When I say this, I base it on the legal definition of “Treasure Trove”. Since it states “trove” in the poem, there should be no question what the chest represents. At least IMO.

    If you do a search of this definition as used in Common Law, it turns out that it goes back to English Law, which was the basis for the origins of our current system.

    Today, “Treasure Trove” is recognized when found as property of the finder. Many states recognize this in their laws on “Treasure Troves”. Don’t confuse this with “Lost Property”.

    I tried to be as focused as possible in reading the various state laws in uncovering this, so if someone has a better understanding, by all means correct me.

    The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

    A majority of state courts, including those of Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Wisconsin, have ruled that the finder of treasure trove is entitled to it. The theory is that the English monarch’s claim to treasure trove was based on a statutory enactment which replaced the finder’s original right. When this statute was not re-enacted in the United States after its independence, the right to treasure trove reverted to the finder.

    Notice that the above states mentioned, are only a few of the ones that recognize this law.

    I raised this issue, because in the past people were commenting on Federal, State and local laws on finding the chest. A search of the laws in the states where one would be looking for the chest may answer the question of ownership. I hope this helps.

  32. Forrest likes to use different spellings and definitions of words. And he likes to make up his own words. Trove could mean and sound like “Trophy”. There could be a landmark or formation that looks like a trophy cup and Forrest is referring to it in his directions to the chest.

    Also, trove could be a shortened version of turtledove, which is shown in one of his drawings in TTOTC.

    My point is, we shouldn’t get too hung up on the word “trove”, as it might or might not mean what we think.

  33. I have the answer for how to get around the IRS and taxes!!!!! Wait til the IRS is abolished by us voters!!!! HAHAHA SOOOO SIMPLE!

    • Ed,
      If the Treasure is found while Forrest is alive that might be a possibility. My plan is different…

    • Wow, Ed. That would be a HUGE bonus to the finder if Forrest would/could do that. I wonder if that legislation passed after Forrest hid the treasure (in New Mexico…IMO). If I understand that correctly that makes a total of 10 million that can be handed over in estate and gifts completely tax free. That’s incredible. You mean congress did something right and just for a change? Allowing people to keep what belongs to them and then give it to whomever they please without the government taking nearly half of it? What a concept! There’s a slight fragrance of liberty in there. Can you smell that, too? 🙂

      Oh, and Merry Christmas to All!

  34. In his book, “Too Far To Walk”, ff places a treasure map to go along with his poem. On the back of this map is a declaratory statement of the “Chase”, to wit, ‘i hid it, i dare you to find it, if you can find it, you can have it’, signed Forrest Fenn. IMO, he has done this to give (legal) title to the chest and it’s contents. Looking at it this way keeps me from fretting over such matters. 🙂

  35. I have to agree….. it’s a contest NOT a lost treasure from old times. The finder will have to pay taxes on the winnings if you go public. Otherwise who’s gonna know?

  36. “When you open that lid for the first time, its gonna be the most wonderful thing that you ever saw”…I would love to live that moment.A part of me wants to plunder that chest badly, and a part of me doesnt.Id hate to ruin everyones fun.If it just contained gold nuggets id have no problem, but im not sure if id be worthy enough to possess ancient artifact gold.So if i find it first i may just take a couple gold nuggets and replace those with a gold braclet with my name etched in it.When its then refound ppl will be asking, well who the hell is that guy? At that point ppl may want to know a little something about the guy who didnt bother to take such an opulent cache and may give my own book sales some propulsion…I wonder if Mr.Fenn would frown on that thought?

    • …I am taking along an inexpensive metal chest, to leave behind in place of Indulgence, when & if I ever find the box

    • I really like that idea find the treasure write a book about it with photographs but leave the treasure hidden in the spot.

  37. Goofy \ Dal

    I would like to hear either one of you guys ideas. If either of you find the treasure, what will you do? Legally speaking?

    • Close earth I believe in being prepared as much as possible; but to me your question is impossible to answer until after the chest is found because there are so many variables. So I concentrate on finding it first and will worry about what to do with it afterwards.

      I do take a small backpack with me when I’m searching to carry the chest after I find it. 🙂 My wife and I were visiting Texas a couple years ago. My son in law had a 40 lb. barbell sitting in the back yard. One of those solid ones; not the kind you can add or remove weights. It was about 5 inches wide and a foot tall and obviously made to carry (it’s a barbell). I grabbed it and took off walking. I’m in pretty good shape for an old guy but that thing got very cumbersome very quickly, and I was on flat ground.

      I would at least send proof to Dal it had been found, even if I had to do it anonymously. What happens after that will just depend on all the variables one would need to consider.

        • specialklr, just set up an anonymous email account, there are many out there. After that be sure to connect from a publicly accessible internet connection, preferably out of the area you live. You can use a VPS service but the service still knows who you are. If you’re really paranoid use an old laptop with a generic name, send the files and trash the laptop. It all depends on how anonymous you want to be.

          If you’re a nerd and want to bump the curbs a little you can get into the linux world of the dark web, generally you would need a full shell account for that…….but you don’t need any directions if you know about that, if you don’t know about it, you should stay away.

          • Hi, Goofy. You mentioned using linux…but could I just use unix instead. Unix has worked so well for others…in high-stress, action-packed environments. I’m just asking because I KNOW Unix …by some really weird fluke …that’s almost “unbelievable”. 🙂


            On the other hand, I know absolutely nothing about eunuchs systems.

          • Okay…blue light touching the computer….now not touching the computer…Doh!…it’s touching the computer again…okay, NOT touching the computer…

            Wow! Great directing! Way to go, Spielberg! 🙂

          • Really??? I love that movie it has been a while since I have watched it. Are they not coming out with a new one soon??? I thought I saw that somewhere…

  38. Have you ever asked yourself “why” ff has really left the chest? Why he has said he “thought of everything”? Then IMHO… If he has done both, he really isn’t concerned that the government will get it no matter how they try. He wouldn’t chance that. So there is only one way, if you find the chest, that you can have no worries about keeping it. Have you figured it out? I think I have. It’s not as simple as the term ” I give you title to the gold!” It’s other. Without a dought in my mind he has no question as to how the “finder” will maintain the “possession”…. Ever… Under any circumstance.

    Famous quote from Fenn… ” think about that! ! ”

    Really. Ponder on that a while.

    • James, would you please expound a little more about this?
      It shouldn’t give us any info about where the TC is, and
      therefore, shouldn’t compromise your chance of finding it.

  39. How about the finder setting up a private meeting with Forest, with video and lawyer present. Returning the chest to Forest, having Forest transfer title to you in the most tax neutral method and then slipping back into anonomous profile. Forest supplies the lawyer and one copy of the video tape in exchange for the bracelet.

    • So along that train of thought, would title need to be exchanged at sea in international waters? Not sure that would relieve anyone of any tax implications, but worth exploring. I believe that is how ships are turned over to foreign owners, but then the owner in that case is a foreign entity.

  40. It is likely the chest and it’s contents fall into the ” historical resource ” category -in regards to legality..ownership of property reverts 100 % to fed/state/indian lands it is found on. is considered ‘ abandoned’. If it is on ” Private Land ” ownership could be argued on grounds that the trespass to retrieve it was ” TRIVIAL” viz…….QUICKLY LOOK DOWN…TARRY SCANT “. Enjoy the poem.

    • 🙂 Bruce

      Here’s a link that i found interesting

      It talk’s about court cases & results.
      I don’t know that it is useful, but does describe many things & even includes a 9 at the END.
      Page 15 Lost Property 2 types, 1 Embedded 1 TT

      🙂 The GOLF C&CS
      🙂 Treasure Trove definition & Thought of Antiquity #2/9
      🙂 Disclaimer not actual statute documents

  41. Just read through this thread and most of the things I have wondered about seem to be answered here concerning what to do after finding the chest.

    A question I’ve wondered about, but not see others talk about much is simply keeping mum on it all? Pick it up and go in peace. Simply don’t tell anyone where you picked it up or that you are the person that found it. Contact Forrest and return the bracelet at a drop spot and go about your business.

    After a while – 5 or so years – in your posession, any burden of proof that it belonged to anyone else goes on them, wouldn’t it? If the various govenment agencies never knew you had it, or that it was you that did have it, what can they do?

    If you want notoriety and/or compensation for your efforts/cleverness, then you’re going to pay a higher price than the person that keeps quiet about the whole affair. Then at the end of your life simply will it to your family to keep the chase alive.

    Perhaps I am naive on such matters – rest assured if I find it I will be talking to numerous lawyers for advice to secure the cache, and to rewrite my will. I think most of us fall into this group.

    • swwot – I don’t think the statute of limitations would begin until the injured party (the IRS) was aware that you’d found the chest and not paid your taxes. So if you did sit on it for a while, but ultimately disclosed it, the penalties and interest on top of your taxes may exhaust the entire pot. Unless you’re confident that you (and your descendants, I think) could keep your mouth shut forever, that sounds like a bad strategy to me.

      I think the finder will have other avenues available to him/her to cover the tax burden. If he or she is smart enough to solve this riddle, they ought to be smart enough to figure out other ways to profit from it – if they are so inclined.

      • Spoon,

        Thanx for your input, and like I said earlier, I’m a novice when it comes to financial dealings concerning vast wealth, so I am very open to advice.

        But if there is no “paper trail” because no money ever exchanged hands, what can the feds do? It seems to me that the onus would be on them to prove that it wasn’t a gift given to me at no cost. Once I had secured the contents of the chest and the chest itself, wouldn’t they have to be able to name and identify the contents before laying claim to it? If no one but Forrest and I knew what I have, how could they do that?

        Additionally, how would they ever know where Forrest was storing my gift if neither of us ever divulges where we agreed to transfer it? Again, I’m wanting to know what all my options are and what’s the best way with dealing with these things, so I am open to suggestions and recommendations.

        I would think being coy about the whole affair plays into your favor better than disclosing things outright as soon as the chest is recovered. That’s my opinion for right now, but I could be swayed otherwise with a reasonable argument.

        Now, this whole discussion is putting the cart before the horse in a sense, because I haven’t found the treasure yet and to the best of my knowledge, no one else has either. But it does do us all a favor to be thinking ahead of time about our “end game” if we are skilled enough to be the one to pick up Indulgence in the wood. I think this is a good spot to quote the Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared.”

  42. I tend to think differently. At one point in time my inspiration came from strictly a monetary perspective. Now I tend to think of it as a trip to the grocery store. You stroll through the aisles searching for the things along the way that pleases your eye. At checkout you pull out your wallet and pay for the goods. The tax burdens and fees are all added in. And when you get home you know you have enough to feed everybody because that’s who you went shopping for. It would have been nice if the grocery store had put all my goodies into an LLC which you could have purchased at a small price tax free and then delivered. But then you would have missed the best part of the shopping trip, the journey and the people along the way. I know my way sounds simple, but sometimes that’s the best way to share a thought. And besides if the store had delivered there would be no story to share at the dinner table which is really the best part of the feast.
    In my very simple opinion.

    • Sounds good. I thought it was about the adventure first and the loot second. What difference does it make to worry about the loot until the adventure is completed. It does not really matter to me – I will pay the taxes or return the chest–according to my tax advisor.

    • Maybe since he gives the portion of proceeds to coll works/cancer it the whole thing including the chest is somehow a charity tax write off where the chest is like a donated prize for the money that’s raised for the cause. The raised money in that case I believe it tax free and possible donated it’s are too? I have no idea but I can find a way it would make sense my head as they would have collected more that it’s value in cash through book proceeds anyhow but who knows. I’m not an accountant or a charity

      • That’s what I was wondering Jamie, if you give the chest back to Forrest or donate it to a museum of his choice would you still have to pay taxes?

        Lol, thinking out loud here but just imagine if you donated it and got to deduct that from your taxes for the year under charitable contributions… Might get an audit flag for that one… 🙂

        • I don’t know. But If I have some fancy car I think I can donate it tom”charity” as and use it as a tax write off. I imagine a chest would be the same. Once I donate that car and they, say, have a raffle and sell 50,000 tickets I don’t think St. Jude’s or Us that raised the 50,000 pay anytaxes on anything. I’m not sure that “you” who won the car has to pay taxes on it either as the title would be signed over for $1 or whatever anyhow and may be “double taxation” if I’d paid hen I first got it. I don’t know. I also wonder from the big “investigation” I know there’s Indian artifacts that one can’t “buy or sell” I have a taxidermied tiger head like this. It’s legal to have because the mount is way older that when they were endangered….but I can’t sell it. Maybe some of the chest stuff is like that? I don’t care at all either way I just like thinking about random stuff but real intriguing.

        • Either way your getting an audit flag unless your yearly income is already in the gazillions and you contributed to both political parties. Maybe this is why Mr. Fenn has made this so difficult to protect us from such agencies.

          • How can they audit it? There’s no paper trail or transfer of money? Until you sell it it’s a gift. And don’t get me going on “troves” haha because everything I’m reading says have to be abandoned for several decades with no next of kin to be found. And no I’m not “challenging” you at all! I really want to know too and have no idea but I don’t get how anyone can talk about taxes like they do. I could buy a babe Ruth baseball card and twenty years later it’s worth a mil…but nobody can “audit” me for it can they? I think only if I sell it for cash…and personally anyone who sells it in my mind is nuts. Heck, you lose money just pulling it outta the ground–you have a thriving business with a strong foundation and a huge following of which fenn has already globally advertised. Running that for even just another year would FAR exceed and chest proceed sales if think. Who knows, but I think it’s gotta be worth 2-3 times minimum as a business than as sold art/memoriabillia.

  43. One way to solve both the ownership and tax problems is to switch the real treasure with a stand-in or proxy treasure.

    The proxy would consist of a cheap, same-size, plastic box (or the original chest) filled with cheap plastic coins, junk jewlery, etc. Most important, it would contain instructions on how to turn in the proxy and collect the real treasure as a reward for finding the proxy. It should also contain a certified inventory of the real treasure. The “proxy treasure” strategy should be managed by a trust with a well know financial institution (Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Lloyds of London, etc.). The trust will act on Forrest’s behalf while he is still alive and after he has passed on. The trust will have possession of the real treasure, be responsible for having it’s value assessed, will verify the authenticity of the proxy when found, and verify the location where found, etc.

    The ownereship problem is solved because the value of the proxy would be minimal, I’m guessing less than $100, unless the original chest is used. If someone or some enty (e.g., a government) can legitimately claim the proxy treasure, no problemos, “Fine, here it is, its yours”!

    The tax problem is solved because the giver of a gift (the reward), Fenn in this case, pays the taxes which, by the way, makes him a great hero all over again!

    The “proxy treasure” has other benefits too:

    The hunt becomes a little harder since a metal detector wouldn’t help.

    The finder gets a nice bound volume of Fenn’s autobiography with the real treasure instead of one rolled up in a jar.

    Fenn gets his bracelet back.

    The “proxy treasure” will generate a lot of publicity, renewed interest in the treasure, reinvigotrate existing hunters, and bring new ones on board. The hunt is back in the national spotlight!

    If the proxy is announced detractors will immediately claim a fraud, that the treasure was never out there, that its value is being reduced, that the hunt is being called off, “what will he pull next”, etc. Fenn lets that stew for a few months, he lays low and says nothing. Then in an interview he urges believers to continue their efforts, point out that no one is being forced to hunt for it, and by the way, who would be so stupid to search for a treasure they didn’t believe in. After that stews for a few months, the trustee publicly verifies the proxy switch, that they have the real treasure, that all is above board, and explains the benefits and praises Fenn’s cleverness and generousity. The trustee then dramatically opens the real treasure on prime time tv and dumps it out!

    The only potential problem in the switch is if Fenn is not physically able to do it. Maybe two afternoons and 4 trips would be required. Maybe an ATV or helicopter would help. Maybe he would have to relie on another person, one he wouldn’t have to murder afterwards! Maybe the trustee could do the switch.

    I proposed all this to Fenn. He said “no.”

    • Dennis-
      This idea has been proposed a couple of times before. Forrest said “no” then too. In my mind it is not a possibility because of the idea that Forrest has said it may take a hundred or even a thousand years for the chest to be found. As you’ve pointed out, who knows what remnants of civilization and a legal system will be around then..???
      I agree with your summary…I don’t think it could possibly involve any “proxy switch” and is clearly not a possibility within any framework that I can imagine over a thousand years.

      • Dal,

        Don’t forget that a “trust” would be handling the whole thing, so time (100 years, 1000 years) is not an issue. I wonder how Forrest plans to “pass the torch” after his demise.


  44. This has all been good reading lol, but how does one contact FF. I have not found his cell # ? Any ideas?

  45. Good ponderings by Wolf and Seeker. To summarize common law, found property is one of these 5 types :
    Lost property, Abandoned property, mislaid property, treasure trove, or embedded property. If you think Fenn is not only a generous but a KIND soul, as I do, you should hope the chest is lying where it can be picked up without disturbing the property around it. If it is buried, or “embedded” in the soil, current law dictates that you must turn the chest over to the property owner. It is generally considered part of the soil and part of the property. But current law also assumes the item is “lost” because it is buried, but we know this is not the case. So Fenn challenges current law. He suggests to me in the poem that he wants it to become “treasure trove” but this may take at least 50 years or so.

    To simplify the concepts, I think of the treasure as a wallet with a few gold coins in it and a note that says the finder may keep it. It is not “lost” because we know Fenn knows where it is. It IS “abandoned property” because Fenn has indicated he wishes to terminate ownership to the finder. But realize that it remains his property at this time. He is the original owner who can easily be traced. It is not yet “treasure trove” because current law applies this to very old items and generally assumes they must be “lost” to the original owner. The items are all very old excepting the biography and possibly the sealed jar it is contained in, but the treasure has been placed recently. Similar treasure that was found only 35 years from placement have been disqualified as “treasure trove”. Using the wallet example, “mislaid property” would be like Mr. Fenn leaving the wallet next to a cash register in a restaurant. It may have been deliberately placed there at the time, but he left it there either intentionally or (probably) not. In this case it does NOT belong to the finder, or the restaurant owner. It is still the original owner’s property and rightfully should be returned to him. But the note in the wallet says “just keep it”. So the finder could do that in this case. The concept of “imbedded property” has not been well covered here. In an Idaho case, a contractor and employee was digging out a driveway on the owner’s property and uncovered a glass jar containing many gold coins. “Finder’s keepers, loser’s weepers” you say? No way. The court ruled that the jar was embedded in the soil and therefore just like the soil, belonged to the property owner. But in this case the original owner was not traceable and the jar was assumed lost over time to the original owner by death.

    Fenn challenges current law regarding found treasure by the unique circumstances under which it was hidden. If he is thinking long term, 50, 100 or 1000 years, laws may have changed very much by then. But if the record is preserved regarding Fenn’s intentions that the finder may keep all or part of the treasure as he is able, then maybe the treasure will not be considered lost and untraceable and his intentions will come to pass.

    • Interesting discussion piratejim although I think your analysis ignores a few things as does the earlier posts on this topic. Common law can be instructive but only in the absence of statutes and regulation that codify the relevant law. Most states and the federal government have code sections and regulations that apply to lost, abandoned, or misplaced property and even to “troves”. Which law applies will depend on where the property is found, when it is found, and by whom it was found. It makes a difference as to whether the location is private, private property open to the public, or governmental (state, local, fed, tribal and all the subdivisions thereof). It also makes a difference as to what type of property is involved (coins vs. vehicles vs. artifacts for example). Who finds the item (owner of the land it was found vs. an employee? Trespasser or invitee? Does the person know who the property belongs to? My concern is that folks are tossing out statements like “common law applies to this…” without specifying the details of the scenario that they think their rules apply to and without any reference to the many laws and regs that are on the books. Lawyers can expend lots of time and money arguing the finer points of all of these issues and I doubt that a rock solid single answer is readily available until we can identify where, when, and how the chest is located. In my view, this is all restless speculation and I would take a lot of the advice that is thrown around with a grain of salt. I for one, will worry about all these issues when I find it.

      • I agree, Raven. I did not begin to address the finer points you have brought up. Illegal activity such as trespassing private land and digging where not allowed will usually void any claim the finder may have. Additionally, the finder must follow laws which stipulate announcing the discovery and turning it over to the land owner of private land. Most searchers believe that they can secrete the treasure away,telling no one about it. This too, can void any rightful claim to the treasure. The purpose of current law is to determine which party or parties have a legitimate claim to the treasure. As you point out, a lessee has a limited claim on the property and an employee who finds valuables while going about his/her business has no claim at all. And if the chest lies long enough to become “treasure trove”, it then may also qualify as an artifact falling under the so called Equities Act. Cannot be legally removed if on certain lands but can only be removed from certain other land under certain conditions.

        I too used to think of this as “putting the cart before the horse”. I had that attitude for years but now I have considered this issue as I try to determine how Mr. Fenn thinks, hoping to narrow down the type of areas it may be hidden in and how he may have thought to hide it.

        To JL – I do have a certain familiarity with legal issues. If Mr. Fenn left papers stating how he would like to see the treasure disbursed ( “reduced to possession”), this direction would be interpreted only under the applicable laws and regulations in effect at the time it is found. As two extreme examples : If it is illegal for citizens to own gold at that time, the finder could probably not possess it unless there are exceptions to the law that qualify him/her to keep it. In a second example, say that Mr. Fenn has had his living family agree to not pursue any claim on the treasure when found, and a document in the chest states that he wants the finder to have it. That would not stop any family member that has not agreed to pursue ownership ( say an as yet unborn descendant ), as they could possibly wage a claim on the treasure as a direct descendant next in line for part of his estate.

        Keep in mind that Mr. Fenn has relinquished CONTROL of his treasure but NOT possession. That bracelet that he wants back is his and he could lay claim to it as the original owner at any time.

      • ” I for one, will worry about all these issues when I find it.”-Raven

        I have heard that comment before and the research I have conducted would indicate that it may be too late in some situations if you wait until you find it. ie. under some conditions and depending on the State, trespassing could be an issue. I discussed this at large in my book as well and had to devise a plan based on consulting lawyers as to how I find the treasure. Waiting to figure out what to do may cost one the treasure if one violates (knowingly or unknowingly) the law. Something to think about.
        The Wolf

        • Wolf, thanks for the advice–I will take it under advisement. I wonder however if thinking too much about these issues runs the risk of creating problems that weren’t there in the first place. My advice is to take FF at his word– “..imagination is more important than knowlege”. In my opinion, that quote directs us that the path to solving this mystery will be found primarily with the right side of our brains (creative and imaginative side). Heavy loads of irrelevant facts and legal minutia dancing around in our left brains can drown out the fancy pants “thinking” that will really get us the prize– of course that is merely my opinion.

          • Raven I hope you are correct about a right side of brain solution because my left side is a bit danaged
            Re spam. Unsubscribe as much as possible and it stops some of them. It is so easy to not uncheck boxes when buying online and then spam. Goofy I agree spam is a big pain but telephone spam has me never answering my phone if I don’t know who is calling.

  46. piratejim,
    You sound as if you might have a legal background. My question to you or anyone who knows the answer is: If FF left a will inside the chest stating that who ever found it would be the inheritor after his passing would that be an option? I think Mr. Fenn probably has put inside the chest instructions on how to secure it since he said he thought of everything. IMO

  47. New here but been lurking a while. I wonder if you could just mail it in full or in part to yourself? Then if anyone asked you could just say you had no idea who it came from. It was just an anonymous gift.


  48. This “all” is very interesting but the original questions out there still.
    Has the “T.C.” been found that anyone knows about or are we waiting for Fennbore Fun to tell everyone then or afterward. I’m only here because a guy asked Dal that question and Dal told him on the Fennbore blog this was the time or place to move that over to “Legal Ponderings”?

    • Tim: from what I can see, there is no reason what so ever to believe that the chest has been found. Anguishing about it is a waste of time in my view. The choice is to either pursue finding it, or don’t. I think some people would like others to think it has been found to cull the number of searchers or to help their egos to feel grand by garnering attention or by leading others to believe “they solved” it. Its a performance that has been played multiple times in the past and probably will continue to be played in the future. My plan is ignore that noise unless FF says the party is over or until the fat lady sings–that would be me, when I find that beautiful treasure.

      • Raven, finding the treasure would immediately transform you from a fat lady to a Raven beauty.

        I too think the treasure is still out there. The legal considerations I talked about are not all encompassing but have a direct bearing on the type of area in which it is concealed, and how it is concealed (the WHERE and HOW of the puzzle), all IMHO.

  49. Why would anyone possibly state exactly WHERE they found it? That’s opening yourself up for potential problems. My pre-rehearsed answer to ANYONE is…”It was right where Forrest said it was”. I’m not required by anything to tell where I found it.

  50. What I’ve found regarding “treasure trove” laws indicates that these statutes likely wouldn’t apply to this find, because by the generally accepted definition, a treasure trove is a cache whose owner is unknown or likely deceased. It would be easy to identify the owner of this chest if found.

    And, as one of markrdreyer’s partners in his quest, I agree – if we find it, we will pick it up, leave the area, and say very little about it. Questions will be referred to our attorney.

  51. So I spoke with a tax attorney today, in regards to the Fenn treasure. She told me that any found items have to be declared on a year end tax form. The items/box must be appraised and taxes paid on the appraised value. She also told me that if someone were to sell any of the items that person would have to pay the difference from what was appraised. I asked about giving the treasure back to the hider and having it gifted to the finder….no such luck, she said the IRS would consider that fraud. Looks like either MUMS the word or fame.

  52. What I don’t understand is how you could be guilty & then prove your innocent?
    Why is it you would have to tell anyone where you found it?
    The government will get there taxes & that’s all they should get.
    I just can’t see the government & the states all sending you subpoenas not knowing where you actually found it. But I do not know the law of the land when it comes to this.

    • Yep,
      It’s starting to look like the effort may not be worth the cold. So the judge asks you where you found it, you say on federal land. Now you just admitted to stealing from the feds. Do not pass go do not collect 200 bucks. Where’s the get out of jail free card? It is a predicament, If you plead the fifth, they assume you most likely found it on fed land, same scenario. IMO

    • Jake, I appreciate you moving this conversation over to the correct page.
      To answer your questions (all are my opinion); you asked:

      What I don’t understand is how you could be guilty & then prove your innocent?
      Standard operating procedure for the IRS; guilty until proven innocent. I won’t get into the constitutionality of that.

      Why is it you would have to tell anyone where you found it?
      The government could “compel” (as they call it) you to prove you own it. Ownership could depend on where you found it.

      The government will get there taxes & that’s all they should get.
      Do ya think……..there’s taxes, and more taxes, and then more taxes. But if you want the government to actually do something you will have to pay a “fee” (just more taxes).

      I just can’t see the government & the states all sending you subpoenas not knowing where you actually found it. But I do not know the law of the land when it comes to this.
      I answered this one above.

      As far as worrying about all of this I think it’s a useless waste of time; because there are too many variables we don’t know. So I’ll use the few brain cells I have finding the chest, then decide what to do……..If one finds the chest and finds out it’s just too much trouble; I suppose you could always put it back (after taking lots of pictures). 🙂

      • Thanks Goofy,
        Yea, I will not waste too much time on this subject & if lightning strikes twice in the same place then I will deal with a lawyer who will end up with most of the money anyway.
        Did you say put it back?
        You definitely need brain cell replenishment.

        • Now wait a minute Jake; give that some thought. Get lots of pictures; some taken with a recent newspaper/magazine to prove time frame. Give Fenn back his bracelet; and he will acknowledge you found it.

          You could make millions off the book with all the great pictures. Then the hint book, then the more hints book, the movie, the motivational speaking circuit, the publicity would be worth more than the chest.

          • Smart thinking Goof. I had a friend who was a professional motivational speaker and claimed tens of thousands of dollars worth of “business expenses” on parking meter fees and a couple of thousand more in food for his cockatoos’ birdseed who he claimed was his office security. They took him to court. He won. Then he wrote a book called “How I beat the government out of $100,000 in taxes”. Made money on top of money…

          • Yes Goofy,
            You could make allot more money than the chest is worth after you find it but I am not sure I would want the celebrityism, the phony cash flow of speaking to a large crowd of people would be easy for me as it is for Hillary, talking about how they can be just as successful as me if you just talk allot of crap. I know, some of them say if my speech has a positive effect on just one attendee out of say 500 people, it was successful.
            I believe there is at least a couple of colleges where the students want there money back.
            Now, I would take allot of HD video & some pics as well, but the books & owning the movie rights would be OK with me as long as the script was not too cheesy.
            BTW, Your persona & Dal as well will be in the movie & was wondering who you guys would want to play you?

  53. Hello JohnCena. My best suggestion would be to ask a lawyer in regards to the questions you may have. Sometimes you may find one that will answer for free. I’m not a lawyer, so my answers may be totally incorrect. My personal thoughts would be that everything is legal. I truly believe Mr. Fenn wouldn’t have placed anything illegal in the chest. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

    • If one digs up enough info about the chest and Fenn they will know that most likely there is nothing illegal in the chest. Before indulgence was hidden it was seen by investigators of the FBI and BLM. If there was anything illegal in it, it would of been confiscated then. If my memory is correct this happened in 09. But there is always that item in the chest that Fenn will not talk about and is ment for the finder. If that item is not being talked about the FBI and BLM may of never seen it. Some speculate the item is a deed to the land the chest sits on to some unique discovery Fenn found in San Lazro that could change the archaeological world.

  54. Havent been able to play with ttotc for a bit. But my brain chews on fun possibilities….what if the chest was on private land and inside the chest was a deed to that land. I assume that has already been thought of. Could that even work out legally?

    • Bee – – you didn’t own the land when you trespassed on it to get the chest. So the previous owner could contest the legality of your ownership. If it is f, no problem. If f has passed on, someone else will own it and could challenge your right to any possession of land and chest.

      Just take the chest and go in peace.

      Regarding above 2016 discussion about announcing publicly that you found it but not saying “where” : How will you answer all the litigants coming out of the woodwork to claim that you found it on THEIR property – – they knew it was there, they found it in f’s spot and put it there, etc. Or you found it because they helped you. You will get to spend all your remaining years in court and a pretty dollar to defend all the lawsuits.

      Just take the chest and go in peace.

  55. I will contact this guy and see what he has to say regarding any legal issues, something I’ve been thinking about doing for some time any ways and he would be a good contact to know for marketing the find. He is handling the most recent find of the couple who found 1,400 gold coins valued at 10 million. I’m curious if has even heard about the chase.

    Kagin’s, Inc.
    1550G Tiburon Boulevard #201
    Tiburon, CA 94920

    • Okay, I just spoke with Kagin, caught him at the office even though not open. There is no legal issue with possessing old gold coins, period. Has to do with collectibles and Nixon changing some laws in the 70’s. He did mention that Ideally if found on your own private land for sure would be best for ownership claims and if no one else can step up and claim. He had not heard about our TC! So surprising how few have heard, better odds for us! Anyhow, keep on searching, IMO.

  56. Dal, just wondering how my recent post today isn’t on this blog? I could have sworn I posted it but then again my memory seems a bit off these days. What may be another possibility, a glitch on your site?

  57. Wonder if all questions of full ownership and not having to worry about paying taxes would be resolved if the finder merely returned the TC to Forrest. He could then write that person into his will for the TC’s possession. Obviously, this would have to be done before Forrest passes.

    • I thought about that some time ago, KevinP, I mean, what can anyone do to you if you know who the chest belongs to, and you simply return it to the owner. You can’t be charged with anything, because no law has been broken. And, if Fenn wants to will the chest to you, he can, it’s his property, but you will probably owe in the neighborhood of about 40% in federal income taxes on what it is worth, but good news, you’ll also be able to keep the other 60% of what it is valued at. IMHO

      • Would tax be due on the entire amount? I thought there was a rather substantial amount which is exempt before any tax liability is imposed.

        • You might be talking about that $15,000 dollars a year that you are able to receive as a gift from someone without paying taxes on it. IMHO

    • SL, Thanks for that link. It refers to antiquities, and while some items in the chest are definitely antiquities, they are not antiquities that are from the area you found it (Roman, Incan, etc. are far away). So yet another possibly ambiguous situation subject to interpretation by the gumment.

  58. OK, so I picked a spot; then I discover it’s in a National Forest, but on non-Forest-Service-owned property–owned by a trust of some sort–and I’m thinking that completely busts my solve….private property=it’s theirs…best as I can tell.

    THEN I discover that the trust belongs to a gazzillionaire philanthropist and art collector who almost certainly knows Forrest (sorry, I would rather not specify the connection). It occurs to me that perhaps Forrest realizes public lands are problematic, and his friends or “the trust” could quit-claim the treasure with some paperwork in the chest. They are, like I said, well into 9 figures so a piddly 6 figures are moot.

    Now having said that, I DO believe Forrest’s spot was NOT selected because of these things…..that may have just been serendipitous. The owner could do that and still have no idea where on over 10 square miles of property it might be.

    So I will still go to my spot if it is not posted.

  59. What if the chest is a mirror/copy of the real chest and you must take it to Forrest or his heirs to exchange for the real one ? Why? Because then the state or government can’t ever lay clam on it. Yes you will still pay taxes but no one can can clam you found it (the real chest) on state or government land. The fake chest would be of no value to them.

    • Or it would have instructions as to how to exchange for the real one inside .

    • Lisa,
      You will need to study up to know he really hid it.
      Take some time to watch his videos here & YouTube.
      Read the statements.
      Please don’t hand the chest to anyone that doesn’t understand.

      “I said on the Today show that the treasure is not associated with any structure. Some people say I have a desire to mislead. That is not true. There are no notes to be found or safety deposit boxes to be searched. The clues can lead you to the treasure, and it will be there waiting when you arrive.”

      “When you find the treasure please come sell me the great turquoise and silver bracelet that is in the chest. I wish now that I had kept it. f”

  60. the first thing take it to the Ranger ,or police then they can verify it’s not real . Then follow instructions as to how to exchange for the real one. No government
    problems . I hope that’s what Forrest did.

  61. So much ado about the legalities of ownership !!?? I’m wondering why ANYONE would do anything but contact FF to do 2 things 1) Return the bracelet, and 2) To seek advice on the sale of the pre-Columbian artifacts. The vast majority of the treasure is in Gold coins and Gold nuggets. Both of which have Huge collector markets and allows for private transactions. With that being said …. why would anyone even be willing to pay exorbitant taxes on the find, if the vast majority of treasure can be sold off privately and under the radar. Yes you would have to figure a way to account for all the extra cash. A bank safety deposit box works for me. Stealth, Secrecy, and Discretion should be the only avenue pursued by the finder of FF’s treasure chest.

  62. I would take the chest back to Fenn for his advise. He has had it the longest and certainly has used it before to fund some of his activities. I would follow his sage advise on this matter. My intentions would be different from many as I am ‘generally lucky’ with my current situation, so would rather use it to help out others. In my past, I had someone help me when I was facing tough times and would like to “pay it forward” so to speak… similar to the Secret Santa donations the salvation army receives around Christmas or even more recently in Salem, Oregon with Hundred dollar bills being mysteriously found by individuals.

    Sorry for rambling on…oh the possibilities.

  63. Step #1 – Find it.
    Step#2 – Contact Forrest
    Step #3 – Deliver the bracelet to Forrest
    Step #4 – Talk to Forrest and/or his lawyers
    Step $5 – Determine risks of divulging where it was found.
    Step #6 – Contact Southeby’s if appropriate.
    Step #7 – Sell TC if appropriate
    Step #8 – Pay Bills/motgage
    Step #9 – Help family and friends
    Step #10 – Set up foundation to help others with remaining funds

    Subject steps subject to change and new information is added.

    Just a few thoughts


    • Hi Jd, hope your search goes well this weekend. Like your list it seems very logical and well thought out. I really didn’t know you were so close and heading out soon. I sure you dont believe me but MSN broadcasts got me thinking about your past conversations and your searches outside YNP. Please let us know how it went.

      • Thanks for your well wishes – see #5 above. IF,
        and that is a B I G I F I do find it, I will talk with Forrest, and together we will decide when and where an appropriate time will be to announce to the world that “The Chase is Over”. There will be a LOT to consider.

        IF I do find it, I would not expect any earth-shattering news Monday…but only time will tell.


        • Agree with you on most items JD, but still think if I find it, I will leave my state quarter in a small container and leave it for someone else to find and set up a trash email to give solve privately only if people want it. Would love for this to keep going of I weren’t the first there just for the chase.

  64. on bended knee is no way to be free
    lifting up an empty cup, I ask silently
    that all my destinations will accept the one that’s me
    so I can breathe

    – Eddie Vedder

  65. There is an interview with Forrest by CBS’s Barry Petersen in which Forrest responds directly to the question of legal issues in owning the chest once you find it. It sounds like Forrest considered that issue. Just my own interpretation of what he’s saying but it sounds to me like Forrest doesn’t feel there will be a legal issue. What do you think?
    If that were true, where could he possibly have hidden it (aside from property he owns) where ownership would not be an issue?
    The interview can be found on the Media Coverage page…a few down from the top of the list…
    The media coverage page is here:

    • Thanks Dal,
      I just called my lawyer to check it out but unfortunately he is still in Montana looking for the treasure.
      Let’s see what Forrest says.

    • Thanks for the post Dal – Interesting interview. Forrest lets the interviewer get away with saying the treasure chest is buried, and he slipped up and said Yosimite, but a darn good interview – Thanks


    • Dal et All,

      2724.4 – Cultural Resource and Treasure Trove Uses

      This category includes inventory, excavation, or removal of archaeological resources and treasure troves.

      The Antiquities Act of June 8, 1906 (16 U.S.C. 431) authorizes most of the existing cultural resource special use permits issued prior to 1979 and all cultural and historic resources less than 100 years of age. The Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16 U.S.C. 470aa) authorizes all new permits involving land-disturbing cultural resource activity involving resources 100 years old and greater. The Act of June 4, 1897 (16 U.S.C. 551) authorizes nondisturbing activity and permits for treasure troves.

      Allow qualified institutions and individuals to observe, excavate, or remove archaeological resources on National Forest System lands when in the public interest and within the constraints of the various laws and regulations governing the management of archaeological and other natural resources.

      For treasure troves, allow persons to search for buried treasure on National Forest System lands, but protect the rights of the public regarding ownership of or claims on any recovered property.

      Follow the basic policy for cultural resource activity on National Forest System land in
      FSM 2360 and additional coordinating requirements for historic preservation in 36 CFR 800.


      I believe this Forest Service Manual (FSM) excerpt legally states that searching for “treasure troves” on NFS land is authorized, but protects the rights of the public regarding legal ownership, which we all know that Forrest has given “title” to the finder.


      • All,

        What one must also consider is that there are “places” within National Forests that could be considered “no place for the meek”


    • Like Forrest said;

      “If you can find it you can have it.”

      “If there is a legal issue.”

      I believe he is just giving a person, the finder a gift. They may owe a gift tax on it’s value. But it is still a gift from Forrest to the finder, no matter how long it takes to find the treasure.

      There may be a formality to go thru after it’s found, but it’s still just a gift from one person to another.

      Or like the poem says….

      Just take the chest and go in peace.

      I give you title to the gold.

      • No gift tax (which would be charged to the giver anyways).
        This is “abandoned property”.

    • Forrest’s map has five land types color-coded: BLM, USFS, NPS, FWS, and Tribal.

      I’m not a lawyer, but I’m guessing that of those five land types, only BLM would come without significant legal ramifications if you find something on the land (for example, if you discover gold on BLM land, and it is not yet claimed for prospecting, you can claim it — though maybe somebody can clarify this).

      Either way, it would be helpful to break down legal status by these five categories that Forrest listed. I assume that when Forrest had his lawyer look into this, these are the categories he looked at.

      The categories could also be narrowed down by considering land categories that Forrest may have been wandering when he found the spot that was really special to him. I’m guessing he spent a lot of time on BLM land, since it’s pretty much unrestricted in usage (including being fishable).

  66. I have never posted at CC but I was reading a post this morning titled “Could the chest be on property he owns” and it came up that he could not own property without it being in the Public Records and I felt compelled for some reason to comment. So I registered at CC but apparently I have to wait to get approved so I just figured I would post my thoughts on this here instead.

    I am not an expert on this but when my solve took me to Private Property I thought I would research it and from what I understand it is not that hard to set up a Land Trust and keep the owner of the property a secret, there are also many other benefits and options when doing this. People have been doing it for years, especially companies that are trying to acquire a bunch of property for an end use that they want to keep secret or private, for example:

    Privacy of Affairs:

    Since only the trustee (or the trust name) appears on title, the beneficiary remains private. This level of privacy offers numerous advantages including the ability to conduct business without making your affairs known to the world. Walt Disney used land trusts when buying up tracts of land in order to build Walt Disney World. If people knew that Walt Disney was buying up land, then prices would have certainly skyrocketed.

    Other benefits are Ease of Transfer:

    The interests in a land trust are considered personal property, not real property. As such, a transfer of an interest in a trust can be done effortlessly with an “Assignment of Beneficial Interest.” There is also no need for a notary, witness, or any type of public recording.

    Search Land Trust and you can see all the benefits and how easy it is to set up. It also has many options on who the beneficiary can be and when the beneficiary can get it:

    Contingent Beneficiary

    n. a person or entity named to receive a gift under the terms of a will, trust or insurance policy, who will only receive that gift if a certain event occurs or a certain set of circumstances happen. Examples: surviving another beneficiary, still being married to the same spouse, having completed college, or being certified as having shaken his/her drug habit.

    It is also possible for the beneficiary to be unborn children, so this implies the beneficiary does not necessarily have to be named. There are rules against perpetuity but they vary by state and “The rule is notoriously difficult to properly apply, as pointed out by a 1961 decision of the Supreme Court of California which held that it was not legal malpractice for an attorney to draft a will that inadvertently violated the rule against perpetuities. Therefore, in the United States it has been abolished by statute in Alaska, Idaho, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and South Dakota. The Uniform Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities validates non-vested interests that would otherwise be void as violating the common law rule if that interest actually vests within 90 years of its creation; it has been enacted in 29 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia), the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and is currently under consideration in New York. Other jurisdictions apply the “wait and see” or “cy-près doctrine” that validates contingent remainders and executory interests that would be void under the traditional rule in certain circumstances.”

    On last thing: “In trust law, a beneficiary is referred to as cestui que use or cestui que trust, that is the person or persons who are entitled to the benefit of any trust arrangement.”

    I have wondered if Cestui Que Use or Cestui Que Trust and Your Quest to Cease are related if I hear and listen good lol, kind of like Butterfly is Flutterby, just a thought. Obviously I have no idea if it is on private property owned by Forrest or not but I can say that if it is it would not have to be in the Public Records.

    Another thought about perpetuity and 1000 or 10000 years from now, there is no guarantee that a National Park like Yellowstone will still be a National Park in 1000 years, you would think so but 1000 years is a long time and there is even talk now about privatizing National Parks, in 1000 years Yellowstone might be owned and controlled by Trump Properties and just be one big Casino and Country Club…


    • Hi Mark, Can you explain your comment “…but I can say that if it is it would not have to be in the Public Records.” Specifically, why would that be true?

      • Hi LMN,

        I am pretty sure I am just repeating what I said above but like I said above if you search Land Trust and what they are used for you will see, that is the main point of a Land Trust to keep your name as the property owner out of Public Records. See above or search about Disney buying up property in Orlando before they wanted anybody to know they were buying up property in Orlando.

        And the property owner can name the Trust anything they want, like “John Smith Property Trust”, and if your real name is Forrest Fenn or Walt Disney it won’t show up anywhere in the Public Records. Lots of huge companies handle this and they have a legal obligation to keep the property owner’s real name a secret and out of Public Records, like this company below:

        Why Select Indiana Land Trust Company?

        We are owned by Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 company. Our dedicated trust professionals are committed to developing long-standing relationships with our customers to ensure sound planning. We want to help you protect your property and its future distribution to your heirs in a responsible, organized and uncomplicated manner.

        • Thanks, Mark. I am smacking myself upside the head. Ofcourse that is true. I read your comment to say there was a way to keep the “trust” out of the public record. Yet, using a fictitious name accomplishes the same thing. believe it or not I am not a “blonde”.

          • Hi LMN,

            I was pretty sure I understood what you meant which is why I included the “John Smith” thing. Like I said I am not a legal expert I just researched all these possibilities when a solve led me to Private Property. I suppose if a Property Owner was to get a company like Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 company to handle the Land Trust, they would have to know something about who the actual Property Owner was, but they are under legal obligation to keep that information secret and I am sure they would, otherwise they could make a lot of money off of knowing that Walt Disney was secretly buying up Orlando to build Disney World and that would probably be more valuable than Forrest’s treasure, but they nor any other Land Trust legal organization I have researched has ever broke that legal agreement so if I or Forrest or Disney were to go this route I think it would be safe to assume they would keep things a secret.

            And Forrest could have set this up 15 years before the poem was even finalized or published, he knew the spot when he started crafting this poem, and he could have also included a dozen other properties he owns just to keep things non-specific and confusing so low level employees at Fidelity National Financial wouldn’t have a clue about the actual treasure location or even ever get the connection 15 years later when he released the poem and the book.

            And on another note, some of the smartest people I have ever know were “blondes”, smarter than this brunette or some of the red heads I know or most of the grays that are hunting for this treasure lol…

          • Mark, Did you just happen to mention Fidelity or did they somehow intersect with your solve? Really curious about that and happy to take the conversation private if that is preferred. On a lighter note, I am a “gray” and I married a highly intelligent blonde (purely a stereotype joke)…after all she married me 27 years ago.

          • Fidelity means nothing to me other than the example of a big Fortune 500 company that handles these type of things. Honestly if I thought I knew anything specific about what Forrest might have done I wouldn’t say anything about it private or public.

            And I am 54 years old and everyday I see a few new grays, I have been with my wife for 38 years in November and she has always been and is still blonde because she goes to this place once a month that magically keeps her hair blonde, I am OK with the gray, I am just happy to still have hair regardless of the color…

          • Mark,
            In a land trust, two parties are needed. The trust and trustee. While Disney use land trust to keep thing on the low so price of land wouldn’t skyrocket. In this case [ the chase ] someone would know something. Then again, two can keep a secret if one is dead. I have often wondered if Olga had more property fenn may have been interested in… other than the adjacent property left to fenn for spreading the ashes.

        • Hi Seeker,

          My only point was it is possible to own property and keep it a secret, out of the Public Records. Disney is an extreme example, then again Fenn would be now too.

          From what I understand the “Trustee” would be Fenn and he could keep that a secret as “John Smith” or “Whatever”, the 3rd party that would know would be Fidelity National in my example above. The beneficiary would be the finder and that is very flexible:

          “Beneficiary is a person or entity named to receive a gift under the terms of a will, trust or insurance policy, who will only receive that gift if a certain event occurs or a certain set of circumstances happen. Examples: surviving another beneficiary, still being married to the same spouse, having completed college, or being certified as having shaken his/her drug habit.

          It is also possible for the beneficiary to be unborn children, so this implies the beneficiary does not necessarily have to be named.”

          I just researched all this because a solve of mine took me to Private Property. Had Forrest said it is NOT on Private Property I would not have even considered this possibility, but he has not. I try not to prejudice my thoughts based on what makes sense or does not make sense to me and instead “decipher” the poem and if that ends up being on an Indian Reservation or a National Park or BLM or Private Property I look into it, and when a solve of mine was Private Property this is what I found. But in fairness prejudice told me if it is Private Property he owns it, that might not be the case but that is what I thought would make more sense than a strangers property, but then again that is an assumption also… DO NOT TOUCH or Please Touch, We Are Responsible lol…

  67. Fenn used the word “lease” in a posting at MW:

    “Helen, I get no satisfaction from writing as if my thoughts were formulated. If you don’t understand my meaning, I hope you would at lease understand my intent. Sometimes, in the still of myself, my nuances do not evoke the presence of an author, but of a scribbler. Sorry for the confusion. f”

    Ignoring context and overlooking a probable misspelling, focusing only on the word “lease”, if he’s leasing an area (private) and has invested into this lease for decades, does this overcome any questions of finder ownership if it is hidden on leased land?

    • A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the lessee (user) to pay the lessor (owner) for use of an asset. Property, buildings and vehicles are common assets that are leased. … Broadly put, a lease agreement is a contract between two parties, the lessor and the lessee.

      So does that mean the “owner” is legally in possession of the assets or what is considered abandon property.
      Fenn didn’t leave the trove to any specific person to retrieve. Now if fenn was thinking 1000 years down the road, private property raises a red flag in my book. It would also calls in question the “owner” of the property may know something [ but fenn said no one knows ]. I think I like the chest being in water before private property.

    • Hi E.C.,

      Could you provide a link to the Forrest quote re: “lease” or at least the name of the article at MW? I would like to take it in context.


  68. I was told this might be a better place for this post:

    I hate to dirty the treasure with cheap talk of money and “disposing” of something made sacred by the dedication, hopes, and dreams of so many searches, but I still would like others’ thoughts on this matter.

    I’ve been trying to imagine what I’d do if I found the treasure. (not what I’d buy with the money, mind you–but what to do with the gold, etc.)

    I personally would be concerned about government intervention and heavy taxes (as well as getting ripped off by collectors). I would probably keep the location a secret and hide a “dummy” chest back in that spot for future searchers to know they found the spot. Hoping that Forrest is still alive, I’d return the necklace to him, but would hate to draw a lot of attention to myself and so would ask to remain anonymous.

    But how do you liquidate it into usable cash, short of holding an auction? Would you discretely sell a nugget here or there for cash? Could you avoid the fate of other famed treasure finders who either had it confiscated or had to pay hefty taxes?

    Would you submit it to be displayed somewhere as the famous “Fenn Treasure” and maybe earn money off people coming to view it?

    I’m sure some collector would pay a premium for the entire collection together–more than you’d get if you sold it piece by piece.

    Also, what would you personally keep, rather than sell? I personally am fond of the chest and would probably keep it and a few favorite souvenirs inside.

    I hate to admit it, but fear of theft and taxes and the uncertainty of what to do with it might cause me to hold the entire trove secret for years.

    I guess, someone needs to find it for any of this to be important, but as he/she will certainly face these decisions, I thought it could be a helpful discussion for the benefit of the lucky finder, whoever it might be.

    • And my response to someone on a different thread accusing me of trying to avoid taxes:

      I’m not adverse to paying taxes, just want to make informed decisions as anyone should. I’ve just read stories about treasure finders that make you think twice about finding treasure. Also, anyone that has/gets serious money ought to be concerned with “estate planning” or you end up giving it all away in legal battles, taxes, probate, etc.” No need to be hostile or unfriendly and jump all over me.

      So to restate the question, do you:

      Keep it all to yourself?
      Sell it, or portions of it?
      Auction it?
      Display it?
      Donate to a museum or charity?

      And anyway, how do you find/approach buyers? How do you protect against fraud, theft, con-artists, and dishonest dealers?

      I think these are legitimate questions.

      • They are legit questions when found Ryan.
        Some of your questions can be answered here but you may not like some of the answers as I do not.

        I thought about these questions early in the chase & decided not to put the cart before the horse although if you are sure you will find it you may want to do some research to keep it without loosing too much but either way you will be famous if you like.
        I prefer to go in peace.

  69. Maybe this will have no effect on where you find the treasure but I would have to say the government is beginning to see our POV.

    Who’s land is it anyway?
    It’s ours. We pay for it. OK, maybe we should give it back to the natives.
    I’m all for that.
    I commend those that have the ability to stand up to our government as I have done & will do again.

      • It has nothing to do with those EC Waters,
        It all has to do what is right & what is wrong.

        I’m sure you know the differences between common law & statutes.
        One is to protect.

        The other is to serve the pockets of the machine.
        Laws were once made for a victim involved & now they are made to make you a victim & pay to keep the machine oiled.

        Don’t forget to buckle your seat belt 😉
        I’m glad the people of the jury put the hammer down & hope the sheeple don’t seep back in.

        • @Jake – of the peeps, for the peeps, by the peeps. Happy for the Bundys, happy for you. Not so thrilled for the public servants just doing their jobs, like you and I try to do our jobs.

  70. You should always tell the truth but you should not always tell ALL the truth….from TTOTC pg. 26. Consider finding a near empty box…….

    • You remind me of “Pigpen” – Always walking around with a cloud over his head. First you want to keep the bracelet, and now predict a near empty box. How sad. JDA

      • I’m sad because I want to keep the bracelet? Darn right I’m keeping it….I would wear that thing everyday…my prize….my hard earned badge of honor. Even if I hocked the box and contents I’d keep the bracelet. That doesn’t make me sad, it makes me proud. And I’m not predicting a near empty box… point went right over your head. Nobody except Fenn knows what’s really in that box. (Legal pondering?) The finder could potentially report finding a box that doesn’t contain everything that is admittedly embellished in the book TTOTC pg. 4. Therefore those who seek recognition and financial gain can have both. Tell the truth, just not all of it.

        • Some one is using their noggin…but I think there are other possible ways to achieve the same. Good thinking Bbcow

          • I’ve seen values placed on the box from 800k to 3 mill. What if it contains more? Say 10 mill….. Does one report it all, or just what is rumored to be in there.

          • The taxes we pay are used to pay for highways, schools, National Defense – etc. Having been GIVEN an unexpected bounty, why, other than pure greed, would one want to cheat the government?

            With every post, my friend, you expose more and more of your greedy side.

            Good luck in life my friend, you will need it. JDA

        • Why not have a bracelet made that includes maybe a couple of gold coins and a gold nugget”

          Forrest has asked only one thing of the finder, and that is that the bracelet be returned. To keep it, to me, is the height of arrogance. “Badge of honor?” How about “Badge of DISHONOR”?

          Just the opinion of an OLD geezer, that still has values. JDA

          • Wow. Now I’m sad and dishonorable…..Name calling isn’t going to deter me from keeping the bracelet. My childish response to that is……If I find the box….I’m going to have a big party and invite everyone except you.

          • Several posts lately from searchers about keeping the bracelet.

            It’s real (other than historical) value is not all that much. You could have a similar one made for a few hundred dollars if you like turquoise bracelets.

            The bracelet is the ‘gobstopper’. I believe that it is a simple test of character and that returning it would be far more rewarding than keeping it.

            It’s the finders choice of course. I hope that person passes the test.


          • JDA. Responding your previous post. How do you reconcile that anyone in this chase is being GIVEN an unexpected bounty? The money, time and effort put forth by the finder are of no value? The finder isn’t being GIVEN anything….whomever finds the box has wholeheartedly EARNED it and I won’t begrudge them one bit. In the last 2 days you have called me sad, dishonorable and greedy and I don’t appreciate your tone.

          • Well BigBlue, this is no place for thin skinned folks that don’t want to be challenged on anything/everything they say. But you are correct, Fenn has said many times the finder of the chest will have earned it……..Don’t pay any attention to the grumpy old guy, he knows NADA.

        • Bigbluecow — Just get the chest and it’s contents along with the bracelet appraised, then take it down to HRBlock, you can find them almost on every street corner, and they’ll fix you up. Remember, those nice highways you drive on don’t come cheap. 🙂

        • Bbcow
          I set here wondering what type of person it would take to do what you said. Mr. Fenn isn’t just someone from the blue. This man is giving everyone who tries a chance to change their life for ever and asking that the bracelet ( that f said is worth $350.00) be returned to him so it can be given to his granddaughter is ,no wait, it needs to be the way that the finder can say thank you to Mr. Fenn.
          He is also a decorated jet pilot from the Viet- nam era and from a marine to you it could also say thank you FF for your service and allowing me to grow up in a free America.
          Just saying to think it over,
          Be safe out there,

    • Hello Bigbluecow. Have you read TTOTC and heard any of the audio/video tapes of what is inside the treasure chest?

  71. Not that this means anything at all…but I was running all the cartoon images through my head about the Chase and flashed on a couple of things….
    The more fun one is thinking about some Treasury Dept. sleuth assigned to the Fenn Treasure. It would be comical/interesting to see the technological aspect of the fact finding or tracking of individual searchers being played out…”Hey Herb, check this gal out…she just posted something really clever…let’s see if she emailed Fenn recently.”….
    “Nope…but she did send a couple to some guy named Dal….you know.. the one that runs that hot blog. We better check into that a little more thoroughly. Holy cap ! Look at all those hits ! We better get some help in here ASAP ! ” To be continued……

    • LOL…..Dal gave me a brief Trout cooking lesson via email. Bet they had fun deciphering that one.

  72. Why not take some of the cashe. What you think you might need for a few years. Then put the rest on display at a Santa Fe museum of sorts for many to see. Then after a few years take the chest and contents back.

  73. We have to think for 30 days.
    I think F confirmed there will be legality involved.

    F – ” keep it in a vault for thirty days while you think. f ”

    Why didn’t he say ” PUT it in a vault for thirty days ”
    Doesn’t say ” your vault ”
    “keep” may be a key word.

    Is he suggesting to keep it where you found it for thirty days while you sort out the legalities involved with a lawyer team.

    Maybe, just maybe, you can buy the land where it is found and will take about a month to purchase.

    • Jake
      Really??? From YOU!!! If you leave it wwwhere you found it, wouldn’t you be chancing the lose of the treasure? Someone else could find it and they will take it while you are waiting…
      I wish f would have just hidden something that would tell you that you have found it now come to my house and claim the Treasure Chest, It’s YOURS…

      • Timothy: “wouldn’t you be chancing the lose of the treasure?”

        I think it would be wise to keep your mouth shut after you find it until you know all the legalities involved.

        If you remove it from the property you found it, you may have some major issues on ownership.
        Yes, I am putting the cart before the horse but I do see many here that have got it all figured out & maybe this is the year as Hma & others have stressed.

        If you remove it and cross state lines as he did, there will be fall back & may get tangled up the system.

        I believe most of these “Statutes” not actual “common law” where the law is about protecting people.

        Think before you remove anything unless you are F.
        Or at least contact him 1st.

        • Come on folks. Consider this: don’t you usually have have a copy of the book with you when you hunt, maybe you should. In the NPS lost property is supposed to be turned in to the park administrator who would will try to return to the rightful owner. In the case of the Indulgence, ff has given tittle to the chest to the finder, witness by the poem and book. No legal problem that I can see, just take it and go quickly. Same goes for most public land. Private property could be somewhat different. Paying taxes could be a real head ache. Have the IRS value it and give them the taxed value in items from the chest, I’m sure they will want to value it above the actual value you could sell it for. IMO.

          • I cant agree with most you said NO,
            “Have the IRS value it”

            I’m having the foxes watch the hen house.

            There will be legalities involved for the finder even if you’re able to get it out of the states.

            It does help to think in different ways dreaming of the perfect solution.

        • Jake, I’m not sure if you would agree with anybody but I’m not starting a word battle.
          My point is that the finder is going to have to pay some sort of capital gains tax. Is the tax based on what you sell it for? If you don’t sell it then you don’t have to pay taxes- I DON”T think so.. The IRS is going to set some value to it, probably a lot more than the going rate of gold per oz. and you are going to have to pay it in a short period of time. The fact is I made my hunt, didn’t find it and probably won’t make another trip unless I can come up with a better solve than I had before. There fore any speculation is only that. I threw out my two cents worth. If by some miracle, I happen to find it I would let the IRS set a dollar value to each piece in the chest. Then determine the tax owed and pay it with the items from the chest that total what they said was owed. I don’t have hundreds of thousand to pay the taxes, therefore pay with gold dust and nuggets, etc. How would you pay the taxes?

          • Not Obsessed: “Jake, I’m not sure if you would agree with anybody but I’m not starting a word battle.”

            I am sure I agree with some things searchers state here some of the time but a word battle is only in your mind.

            There have been a few here that actually know the legalities involved & commented.

            When & if I find the treasure, I will seek professional help.

  74. Did I read here somewhere about streams, creeks and river beds? I recall they were public access regardless of private/Fed land ownership. Is this true, and if the chest were in the creek, would it be in the public domain even though it flowed through a National Park?

  75. I can’t imagine The Flyer placing it anywhere that would create any real conflict or problems for the searcher(s) who might discover it.


  76. Hello search family,

    I was curious what everyone’s thoughts were on who owns the copyright on Mr Fenns poem. Is it the collected works bookstore who has copyright on TTOC, is it Forrest who I believe has copywrite on TFTW(maybe I’m wrong) which contains the poem as well, or has it fallen into the public domain by virtue of how it has been distributed and used by the author?

  77. I think Forrest maybe could have left the treasure in his backpack, after eating his sandwich of course and drinking his grape soda, in order to conceal it so the brightness of the box wouldn’t stand out. If someone random found it they would try to move the backpack and to their surprise, find out it was super heavy. He could even suspend it for a while on its straps until those wore off, or maybe he used fine cables to hoist it up. If someone found the treasure many years from now it would be neat to check out the old school material used in the backpack. He could say he misplaced his backpack when hiking in the wood, but whoever finds it can keep it.

    In any case, I’m sure many people have emailed him that they have found his treasure and bracelet but I bet he included code words in the sealed glass jar so someone calling or emailing him would mention those words first so he would know instantly the treasure was found, which would alert him.

    Perhaps he signed and dated a document that said he rightfully gives his backpack and the contents to blank (you fill in your name). Don’t know if that would hold up.

    If would be fun to re-secret the treasure or even a similar box (the Roman bronze box is the coolest thing!) with a picture of the original treasure in the original hiding spot with a note saying when it was found to pay it moving forward, and with places for people to sign and date like a geocache.

  78. If it is on blm land and the treasure is not really in the box-say just a key to a box in a bank or a special way to contact a lawyer for further action to bring the treasure to the finder, what would this possibly mean in taxes?

    • Michael, perhaps doing just a little research would be helpful to you.

      I said on the Today show that the treasure is not associated with any structure. Some people say I have a desire to mislead. That is not true. There are no notes to be found or safety deposit boxes to be searched. The clues can lead you to the treasure, and it will be there waiting when you arrive.

      • But Goofy,
        ‘Feen’ said “…I have a desire to mislead.” Maybe he can’t help himself… and some people “Know it”
        Maybe the “clue” here is “notes” and the poem is about music…
        And IT will B that note and a key to unlock the music box..
        BTW who is “you” in that comment… IT will be waiting for.

        Legal ponders idiot clause…imo

        Sorry,.. fell off the box and hit my head. I’m feeling better now.
        Please disregard the tangents.

  79. I just remembered seeing a video interview of Forrest somewhere (Today Show?) where he seems to verbally fantasize about how he’d like his treasure chest to end up in the Smithsonian Museum when the Chase is over.

    Do you suppose he’s already made some sort of arrangement like that? I think it would be nice if so. I would look forward to holding all of the treasure chest items in my own hands and looking at everything, but honestly getting everything appraised and sold off individually for money to private collectors sounds like a laborious effort that I’d rather not deal with. Maybe he’s set up a deal to keep the trove together in one collection that the finder can sell off to the Smithsonian for the lump sum of a few million bucks? I think that would be ideal as it would be nice to keep the treasure collection together.

    Maybe I’m just fantasizing too much myself!

  80. Have not really ever read the legal pondering blog before, and did not really feel like reading all of the above post so sorry if this idea is a repeat.

    What if Forrest hid away the treasure with proper postage for it to be delivered by the united states postal service addressed to himself. Would it by law then be the property of Forrest no matter what land it was found on? Just an out of the box idea that just crossed my mind. It might explain all of the post marks in TTOTC book. Anyone else know a little more about the legality behind United States mail delivery?

    Fred Y.

  81. Posted this elsewhere, but it may have gotten deleted for being in the wrong thread so I’ll repost here.

    If people’s solve leads them to private property or through private property, are they generally going ahead and searching anyways? I like my solve and I doubt there’s anyone around that would care, but I’m not especially interested in getting arrested for trespassing where it’s likely at least a hefty fine as punishment.

    As someone else alluded to, I find it odd that FF has not come out and publicly stated that it’s not on private property, out of respect for other’s property and him not wanting random people potentially trespassing. Especially in light of him going out of his way to keep people from coming to his house.

    • That is sort of encouraging for me, since my spot is on land a friend of Forrest’s trust-deeded to USFS–it’s kinda her’s but as far as what you can do there (like leave treasure), it is National Forest

    • Being arrested may be the a preferred option as compared to the extent that a property owner may be allowed to go to protect that property. Use of a firearm for protection varies by state and to some extent locality within that state…that is…if anybody ever really knew about the “alleged” incident. They don’t call it the “wild west” for any one, single reason.

  82. Im new to the blog. I’ve seen the interview where they ask about the legal issues. I know what my gut tells me , but its been wrong before.. I wish I truly knew what the legal ramifications were for finding it in YS. Does the river bed make a difference? I know if I found it, I would find a place where it is finder keepers and that would be where I found it.. That’s if I had to disclose it at all. There are many ways around the potential problems of finding it. But I think it would help the solve if we truly knew what the law says. I believe riverbeds and streams are public access. But NPS has a bunch of rules, that one may not know about.. I have been focusing on only solves that use the poem and the book. If it isn’t somehow connected I through it out.. Like if I found the book 1000 years after a near extinction event could I find it with just the book. Most of my solve end up back in Yellowstone, that’s why I wish I knew the legal issues. I could move on..

  83. Anyone else considered Reservation lands? What if the intent was that it gets found on land with ‘no legal issues’, i.e. it goes straight to a tribe? Assuming one ‘goes with confidence’ would imply you know you can’t just take it, rather you MUST give it to the authorities, so you could avoid arrest (big maybe?). I agree that book/movie deals should make all of the experience profitable for the finder, but what if the goal was to highlight NA struggles? Allows them to keep, promote and otherwise market the find as they see fit, all the while (assuming you’re not in res jail) you can say you found it. I find it very hard to believe FF does not have their interests at the root of much of his career and life…but then he profited greatly from it all…kind of makes you wonder?

  84. X-posted from WhereWarmWatersHalt

    **** I wrote (re Nat’l Parks) – “Cannot remove any natural or cultural object from the parks, including fossils, rocks, animals, plants, and artifacts. How long, you suppose, for the chest to become a cultural artifact?” ****

    ****** Aaron responded – “Just my opinion but I can’t see that ever holding up in a court of law. If FF did spend $8k on attorney fees it makes me lean toward the TC being in a more questionable location. Just a guess though. He did have to go over all potential spots so as not to lead on the attorney to its potential spot.” ******

    Hey-O, Aaron
    Consider a scenario (however likely/unlikely) 50-ish years down the road, where FF’s ‘Secret Where’ spot (complete with the still-hidden chest) is (unknowingly) within a newly created Nat’l Park, or added to an already existing Park.

    Would it then be as much a part of the Park as, say, all the cowboy camp artifacts in Canyonlands, or Josie’s (20th century) cabin in Dinosaur Nat’l Monument?

    And would the same apply 50 years down the road if he had put his chest in an already-existing Park?

    That’s what I meant by “when does it become an artifact?”

    (Took me a while to re-locate this Legal Ponderings thread. Hadn’t been here in a while, and found it very interesting to re-read.)

    (I’m not a legal expert by any means, just kinda idly pondering possibilities. And without being really worried about them as obstacles myself.)


    • Hi Jake, I see your point but to me those artifacts you mention seem a little different since they are known artifacts. If one were to just find any random non-natural object say a $10 bill laying in the woods they should be able to keep it. I don’t know maybe it is different since it has been documented roughly when he hid it but who knows.

  85. I think the only safe thing for the finder to do is to return the chest to Forrest once it’s found (assuming he’s still around), just as if you had found a wallet with his name and contact details on in a national park or BLM lands (the feds don’t get to own your wallet just because you lost it on public land). Then Forrest can choose to gift it back to the finder, or write the finder into his will, or sell the chest to the finder for $1, or whatever produces the most favorable tax outcome.

  86. If whoever finds the treasure is smart, they’ll never reveal the location where they found it.

  87. Sorry to resurrect this old chestnut again, but someone who’s helped me in the past told me yesterday that he’s convinced the TC is hidden on private land. I tried to dissuade him (having had to confront this issue previously), but he’s adamant.

    If you thought the chest was located on private land (and were not prepared to rethink your solve), would you:

    A. Ask landowner permission in advance (or custodian if the owner was absent or untraceable)?

    B. Search first and then take any finds to the owner/custodian?

    C. Keep quiet and only contact Forrest if you were successful?

    This seems such a risky strategy, whichever route is taken, so I’d like to pass on the consensus to my colleague ASAP. Maybe he’ll have second thoughts, but I doubt it.

    Thanks in advance.

      • Thanks for your take, FMC. I think I may be bringing the guy around – slowly. He had become a bit target fixated!

        • If you want an example, my “Going to see the Elephant” solve had some private land issues (crossing it to get to blm land).

          • Many thanks, FMC. I’ll check it out and then pass the info on. I’m very grateful for your assistance.

        • Vox,

          Hiding the chest on private land would void any searcher’s claim to the chest. It would fall under property rights and the property owner would have sole rights to the chest. FF would not have hidden the chest on private property knowing the legal ramifications doing so would create. It would also cause searchers to trespass and literally steal the chest since ownership would belong to the property owner. And I highly doubt FF would be trying to draw thousands or even millions of searchers to a place off limits to the public. All IMO.


    • D. Rework my solve. I know your friend does not want to do this, but it is the only logical solution JMO – JDA

      • Thanks JDA. That’s certainly the most logical choice. I’ve already tried to tell him it’s not in NM, but he ain’t buying that either!

    • Voxpops,

      Without giving it a lot of thought, consider this: what advantage would Mr. Fenn have in hiding Indulgence on private land? I can think of none, as he would have to be in cahoots with the land owner, and we all know the quote about keeping secrets and one party being deceased.

      For the sake of argument, let’s say they are in this together and the only way to get it lawfully is if you ask permission first to do the searching – another part of the puzzle to be solved, as it were. What if solving the poem riddle gives you the “secret handshake” to give the land owner so you can go pick it up? While fanciful to consider, this just doesn’t jive with the quote about secrecy.

      My humble opinion is that there is no benefit to be gained by Mr. Fenn hiding Indulgence on private land.

  88. It seems to me that most people are forgetting that Mr. Fenn chose the specific location because it was special to him. So special that he wanted his bones to be laid there. He didn’t preemptively look for a place to hide the treasure; didn’t consult legal authorities; he put the chest in this special place without regard to the ownership (private or federal). The treasure followed his previous determination of this most special place. Not the other way around. My point is that the location was not chosen in anticipation of potential legal problems or ownership claims.

    That being said it seems like there are only several (seven?) options if one finds the chest:

    1. Take it and shut your mouth from now until the end of time. Hopefully no one will ever find out you have it. Of course, then what use would it be to you?

    2. Take it, anonymously announce it has been found and look over your shoulder as in #1 above.

    3. Take it, announce it, and say nothing more than “I found it where FF left it.” Good luck with the fallout. Hopefully nobody knows where you found it; where you went, etc. Hopefully Mr. Fenn won’t reveal it either. Oh, and hopefully the feds won’t investigate on the premise it was located on “their” land.

    4. Take it, announce it, and tell the world where you found it. Your ownership WILL be challenged by someone or some entity. I guarantee it. Notwithstanding what legally binding documents Mr. Fenn may have enclosed, you will fight it out in court. It may be confiscated if any laws were broken as interpreted by the feds. Considering the obscene number of criminal statutes and federal regulations, it won’t be hard for the feds to dot a few eyes…

    5. Take it to Mr. Fenn, give it back to him, and let him deal with it. If the smoke ever clears perhaps he (or his assigns) will give it back to you (or some measure of renumeration for your efforts). Maybe he will entertain a trade for some of his other goodies.

    6. If you find it on some form of government land (most likely IMHO) then drop it off with the authorities as may be required depending on the possible classifications of the property. Good luck getting it back. Publicity and pressure may be your best friend at this point. Since Mr. Fenn is a Trump fan maybe some invited presidential interest will result in a title-vesting Tweet (or pardon).

    7. Just leave it be and bask in your anonymous self-satisfation. Break the rules and proclaim “I know where it is”. If you want to make a run at the booty, then let Mr. Fenn know where you found it and maybe he has some insights on what to do next. At the very least he can give you the number to his lawyer. Hopefully no one else will snag it in the meantime.

    I’m not sure what solution (or any others?) would maximize your chances to legally own the chest and enjoy the spoils (and, of course, let others know). The feds can be very cold; will your efforts be worth it?

    What would you do?


    • These are my thoughts as well. Really hard to find the right answer to this conundrum.

    • The only truly safe option here is #5 — give it back to Forrest while he’s still alive. That completely removes the issue of whether you need to hand it over to a park warden or government office, since you’re giving it back to the original owner, just like if you found a wallet or something. Forrest would certainly turn around and hand it right back to you. End of legal drama.

    • On the advice of counsel, I invoke my fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectively decline to answer any questions.

  89. I’m not a lawyer or legal scholar. But what if you did hand it back to Forrest and he then sold it back to you for $1 ?
    Would there be no taxes due until a capital gains is shown if/when you decide to sell it?

  90. Here’s a scenario….it is on nps land and in a tree and you found it. Who would have ownership?

  91. My boots on the ground adventure brings up another angle to the land ownership issue and retrieving the chest…

    If I follow the directions in the poem, a section of the route includes crossing private property.

    The property is very well posted, warning trespassers to stay out and no crossing the property to access national forest land is permissible, either.

    Here’s my dilemma…I believe the chest is hidden on BLM land adjacent to the private property. In order to retrieve the chest – basically following the route FF would have taken to hide the chest – I would be trespassing. When I approached the property, I was followed by someone. I noted his presence and retreated. I was followed for about 5 miles on gravel roads, then the highway until I pulled into a gas station…

    So, in my scenario, FF wants to place the chest in a place he would be content with laying down and passing away. To avoid issues with this plan, he purchases the property and puts it the name of a ‘trustee’ or equal. He hires a ‘caretaker’ to keep the property in order.

    Neither the trustee or the caretaker have any idea about his plan or the chest.

    In their diligence to their employer (in actuality, they are probably hired by a third party-not
    FF), they actively protect the property from intruders, thus blocking searchers from following the poem’s instructions.

    What’s the right thing to do if you want to get to the area and confirm that you have the correct solve?

    • Hard to believe that FF would hide the chest in a location like the one you are describing.

      • All of the clues in the poem work with the geography…so, why not?

        Other than protective property owners…

        • Well, at the risk of discouraging you, all of the clues have worked with the geography for thousands of other places that people have searched. The answer to their why not question is that it’s just not the correct solution. Personally, if private property is involved I would take that as clue that I am in the wrong spot, but that is just me. Now if it wasn’t private before the hiding of the chest and has since become private that might make me continue.

          Forrest doesn’t seem like the type of person that would make you have to cross private property to follow the clues. I could be wrong but I just don’t see it.

          • In spite of my personal interpretation of the poem, I agree with Aaron. I don’t think that encroachment on Private Property would be encouraged by FF.

            It is possible that when FF hid the chest, the area was less developed, very few people had a need to cross private property -therefore ranchers were less concerned about trespassers.

            FF could not have anticipated the surge in telecommuting and the upswing in construction of summer cabins in the Rockies when he hid the chest.

            Although I am trying to come up with an alternate solve, WWWH keeps calling me back to this area…

    • The right thing can only be decided by you.

      I know this presents a significant dilemma for the searcher. While FF may not “like” rules (who does), I do believe he is genuinely respectful of other people. I don’t think he wants us running around on property clearly posted as “no trespassing” without consent. The easiest thing to do is determine who the property owner is and ask for consent to hike on their land.

      This may seem like a small thing to do to people who don’t live in out in “country” type areas…….but I live in Kansas, so I take it very seriously when a place is marked and posted well with no trespassing and or private property signs. Part of it is a respect thing, and part of it is an “I don’t want to get shot” thing.

      And just an FYI for those that don’t know…..colored fence posts are often a sign of no hunting/no trespassing as well. Know your area.

  92. I have run into private property issues with every single BOTG I have done. Last week I was at a particular structure that had “Private property-stay away” clearly written on it. I read a little later, however, that that area was purchased by the government. But the warnings remain there. Not sure which is accurate. I, too, have been tailed down gravel roads until I left the area. Having said that, I prefer not to get shot or even need to have a conversation with any authority about my right to be where I am.

    Now I’m torn between “it would never be hidden in an iffy place like that” and “the harder it is to access, the longer the chase will last”. I hope it’s the former.

    • People want an audience. You have a good one in me, as I have good eyes for hints (hee hee). As always, IMO.

  93. O chest está em área privada com proteção permanente, o pesquisador estará sujeito a processo ou a tiros na bunda.

    Como eu sei? Estivemos lá e vimos pessoalmente. hehehehe

  94. We should simulate finding the treasure in Yellowstone just to see what exactly would happen. Someone hide and another find something of value there. Not that much value though, just in case it is lost. The finder must turn it in to a ranger. Let’s see if they get it back!

    • Okay….you hide 50K. Send me the coordinates…and I’ll go get it and turn it in. Okay?

      • Lol, nice try Ken but that does not qualify as “not that much value”. Well it doesn’t for me anyway.

        • just jivin’ ya’ Aaron. There is no way to simulate what you are suggesting. A bronze box full of real treasure is quite different than anything else likely lost in the Park…and the end result most likely completely different. Wanna try 10K?

          • 10k still to rich for me. I don’t mean something that is lost, but something that is purposefully left. I don’t know that the value should even matter as long as the circumstances are the same. There is a possibility that FF left other legalities in place, such as a title, or note inside the chest.

            In this example it could be a used watch, or a $20 bill left in a bottle. The hider leaves it with directions posted on how to find it. The finder finds it and turns it in. The finder also notifies the park ranger that a person posted that they left it and that whomever can find it can have it. From there see how it unfolds. Simulating the act is all that is required IMO, not the value.

    • You might get lucky and win legal ownership, but most of the $50k will probably end up in your attorney’s bank account, then the IRS would get their cut.

      Maybe could buy a Wimpy burger with the remainder 🙂

      • What’s wrong will telling no one? Withstanding FF so he can say the TC has been found. Of course you would have to pay taxes when you turn it into money to deposit in the bank, whether selling the whole shebang or parsing out. I’d think I would only need a tax accountant after the sale.

        It’s finders keeper, we would tell the original owner. Besides I’d hope where it’s found is public domain. FF only used the place for a public treasure hunt, outdoor recreation is always allowed, and I’m positive the area was not harmed. Why in the world would I need an attorney?

        Just Say’n 🙂

        • The finder could sell it without telling anyone, and make a nice amount of money. Though it may be harder to remain anonymous once pieces unique to the chest hit the market.

          Much of the real value will be in the story though. With every story that comes out about the chase the value of the chest and contents go up. Selling the chest and contents as a whole will likely gain the highest dollar. The story itself, if properly marketed and released, could be worth a ton by itself. Hard to keep it a secret if you can double or triple your money by letting it out.

  95. People speak as if there is a pop cultural market value for FF’s chest.

    Let’s face it. The market is those who are seeking it because of its value. I personally can’t imagine anyone outside the hunt wanting it for more than it is worth. And the ones in the chase likely can’t afford it, otherwise why bother. Therefore, the more realistic approach for the finder to realize any value at all will be to sell its contents one piece at a time on the open market. As such, the finder should not disclose.

    Just being realistic.

    • I disagree. There are plenty of very wealthy collectors out there that pay more than an item’s value because of it’s story.

        • Sounds like a long pipe dream down a shallow hole. If I find it, it will never be found. 🙂

  96. The value of an object/objects is it’s intrinsic value which is what someone would be willing to pay. Of recent a photo of Billy The Kid was found in a junk shop for a few bucks and later sold for five million as rumored. Antique gold….large nuggets included far exceed spot (weight ) value. Some collectors will pay large prices for one of a kind objects and some one of a kind objects are considered priceless. Some 2cent stamps will now pay for a college education or a months supply of prescriptions for some. Here are the magic words…..In My Very Own Selfish Bias Opinion.

  97. KK….I also live in sunny Kansas and purple paint on fence posts marks property lines and to some it means ” No Trespassing, No Hunting , No Fishing….Beware Of Shotgun….Survivers Will Be Prosecuted To The Full Extent Of The Law….Hangings Held Third Mondays at The County Courthouse At 11:00AM. ….Lunch Servred By The Ladies Literary Society”

    -guy michael-

  98. One last coin tossed in the fountain. One of the first laws passed by the Continental Congress of our new fledged country concerned “Navigable” Rivers. These are Federal Laws that state that from the waters edge to the ordinary high water mark on all waters that have been deemed ” Navigable” is public and not private.

    The State Of New Mexico has passed legistration along time ago that all waters in New Mexico are declared navigable. This might make for some interesting enlightenment to some landowners who think they own certain waters. Just google Navigable River Laws & Navigable Rivers of New Mexico.

    “This land is your land….this land is my land….from the Hudson River to the Rio Grand. This land is your land…..this land is my land….from the muddy Missouri… the crystal Columbia….this land belongs to you and me”!

    • Now that is interesting. I am thinking about shifting my perspective in a major way on how I’m going about finding the TC and was just reading some surveyor terms last night and was wondering when there were multiple terms referencing “high water” as it relates to survey markers. Hmmm.

  99. judge- “Forr-est Fenn, you stand accused of creating high hopes, inciting gold fever among the masses, get-rich-quick dreams for the poor, causing hiking boots and shovel shortages throughout the west, maxed out credit cards, divorces, marriages, widows, and general mayhem in the mountains north of Santa Fe…how do you plead?”

    Forrest- ” uh, your honor sir, I never said the poem would lead to the bronze box.” (grin)

  100. I have been watching the chase from afar for a long time and was pondering this issue of the tax pitfall and the government stomping on anyone finding the treasure based on where it it found and I think I may have the solution that would make everyone smile. IF you are to find the treasure, Stop thinking of this as abandoned property. Get in this mindset, Forrest has lost his chest. Simply return it to Forrest, he wants his bracelet back anyway. Ask him if he would add it into his will that the chest and it’s remaining contents be given to you on his death. Maybe offer to put it in a joint safety deposit box if you are paranoid some items will walk off. There is no federal tax on inheritance and only 6 states have inheritance tax. The six states that impose an inheritance tax include Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. So you wait a while longer but you keep roughly the 40% you would owe in tax in your pocket in the long run. Forrest’s estate also has no charge for this. Gold is down right now anyway so waiting a little while should pay off. The only problem with this plan? You need to find it while Forrest is still alive. Good luck all. No applause just toss us a gold coin when you find it 😉

    • Wishin- I don’t want the chest. (the bronze box chest), so those are no concerns of mine.

    • Except for I’m pretty sure the treasure would be accounted for and taxed as part of his estate before the contents of the chest were handed over to the person who found it. Then his remaining family members might find a way to litigate who the rightful owner is if they are having to pay the estate tax on it.

      • The tax law is about a muddy as they come but I believe the estate tax has been raised every year higher and higher and requires for 2018 the estate value to be in excess of $11 million before there are any taxes to be paid. They say that only .2% will see this tax. I don’t speculate on Forrest’s net worth so it is only an assumption that is doesn’t exceed this amount. As far as members of the family, or the government, or another chaser contesting the will, that is always a risk.

        • Wishing: Forrest’s estate comfortably exceeds the current lifetime estate tax exemption. This still might not be bad news for searchers: it’s an interesting possibility to consider that the means by which Forrest could know the treasure has been found is if the chest contains some sort of declaration that he will claim the treasure’s value as part of his family’s lifetime exemption. That would exempt the finder from paying federal taxes on it (though probably not state and local taxes, if applicable). That would be a pretty strong incentive for the finder to come forward: at least as far as telling Forrest (or his estate). Certainly more valuable than a $100,000 IOU or check that must be cashed.

  101. There are no legal issues concerning Fenn’s treasure. He said so. Fenn did not lose his wallet or an expensive watch. In fact he didn’t lose or abandon anything. What he did was hide a treasure chest that was meant to be found. And he said that whoever finds it can keep it.

    While one might turn in a wallet full of cash to authorities, turning in a treasure that the hider clearly stated dozens of times in print and on video is the property of the finder would be quite moronic. No matter Where it’s found. Mr Fenn is a sharp guy and not one to be caught with his drawers down. He said he spent a lot of time with his lawyers sorting out any loopholes. And one of his lifelong friends is an attorney who’s firm specializes in Estate planning and Real Estate law. (Ever Google “Kacir Temple TX”?).

    Bottom line is that Fenn would not leave the finder ‘hanging’ with legal issues. So you can all relax about legal concerns and just focus on finding the chest.
    (The IRS is still a concern of course 🙂 )

    • that is interesting, randawg. Makes you wonder if Sydney Kacir is ff’s classmate and friend in TTOTC. Licensed to practice law in TX in 1959 could be about the right time frame.

      • I don’t wonder at all,
        Sidney Kacir was born on April 21, 1930 in Temple, Texas.
        Forrest Fenn was born 4 months later on August 22, 1930.

    • I think just trust the guy that left the treasure, took care of business (is a business guy too), and go be treasure hunters. Treasure leavers and treasure hunters are different in this case(there is only one Fenn!!), And millions of searchers walking in circles in the mountains looking. Probably including it’s not to mention, they’ll take all they can get their hands on imo.

  102. Forrest Fenn-Douglas Preston Clips
    Paraphrase: 11:45 mark—
    When Cynthia asked Forrest, when someone does find the treasure- the chest and its contents are theirs (the finder’s), correct? They will own that treasure?…. Forrest responds, I’ve said in my poem, l give you title to the gold, but ah, there’s a lot of…Subchapter S is in that rule too. But, I don’t want to go there.
    This is the first time he’s mentioned Subchapter S Corp having anything to do with the treasure. It sounds like there is an obligation (catch) to the finder to an S Corporation. Something like, the finder gets “only the gold” and everything else go to the S Corp. By the way, an S Corp has more than one entity or persons in it. Who else is part of that S Corp?
    Something here is different. Maybe it’s the clue that Douglas says that Forrest gave in the interview while he sat in that chair. Something new, Douglas says. And, is that how they will know after Forrest has gone to the great banquet table of history. 17:00 mark–When asked,…..After some delay…..Forrest says, there’s a way to know but I’m not going to tell you.
    Does anyone one think that Douglas and Shiloh are part of this S Corp., and what hold does it have on the chase? —23:44 mark–And how does Douglas know that Forrest gave out very significant clue? Forrest, seemed to agree and said, thank you.
    Something is different, what do you think?

    • ManOwar;

      Finding the treasure is hard enough for me.

      I will let a lawyer direct me if I find indications of a subchapter S Corp – once I have found the treasure – 🙂 – JDA

    • Interesting take on that ManOwar.

      I don’t know about S Corp., but Forrest does make it sound like there is a clause in the title to the gold that might exclude certain rule-benders, I suspect.

      I just watched it again. ‘Corp.’ is not mentioned at all. I assume ‘S’ was a random variable for a theoretical sub-clause that he conscientiously meant to convey but without getting into the details.

      • Further idea..

        I thought that the word “brave” might be one of the few in the poem that isn’t as important as the rest, but if we define “brave” as honest and true, then that word creates a clause for the title..

        Just a thought I hadn’t considered before..

    • Perhaps he wasn’t referring to a legal “S-corp” but a Signal Corp as related to the military. I think he may be sending out signals.
      Listen…..hear those bugles?

    • I hope who ever finds it stays quiet if I’m honest, because I got a bad feeling that it’s going be tied up in court cases for quite some time. I also had a feeling something would be attached to it, it was to good to be true that who ever found it would just get to keep the hole thing.-Jason

  103. Have any of you considered that part of the treasure may be a steak in the company and not a precondition or condition of obtaining claim to the treasure? It is possible that FF left stocks or bonds or some other “title” in the chest. IMO


    • I think that what you propose is far more likely Ann than Forrest dangling this treasure in front of our faces, literally costing lives, to have the finder get slapped with some finders clause that makes them give over part of the chest to another entity.

      As for the legality of ownership. I’ve looked into some technicalities in the areas that I’ve been focused on. And what I’ve found in some specific areas, that after 24 hours any item, whether it’s sun glasses or loot, becomes public property. After that, it is owned by whomever finds it. In some instances a specific park services person may be the finder and according to one policy they would hold onto it for 30 days and then liquidate the item through auction.

      When I personally think about it beyond that, first off, I’m inclined to believe Forrest when he says that he spent a lot of time on this issue and I would imagine he did more than his due diligence. As for items that get caught up in legal red tape, I most definitely think that they concern some valuable item with its origin in dispute and not a one of a kind treasure chest with millions of people knowing that it’s up for grabs and exactly what’s in it.

      • Double a,

        Thanks for seeing some reason in this otherwise misplaced legal conundrum.

        Everyone Else,

        The following notes are all IMO:

        1. The chest is not a “lost item.”
        2. The chest was purposefully hidden for someone else to find.
        3. There is nothing about finding a purposely hidden item that would concern legal ramifications.
        4. Has no one participated in a treasure hunt before, either at school or in some organization? No one turns in the treasure at the end of such a hunt only to wait and see if they will eventually get to keep it.
        5. That said, this IS a treasure hunt.
        6.. It is not a search for lost treasure.
        7. We do not get taxed for things we find.
        8. The chest would not be deemed income in and of itself.
        9. Unless FF left an IOU in the chest and directions on how/where to redeem it, there should be nothing further needed to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
        10. Any legalities that could possibly be tied to the chest would need an Executor if and when FF should pass away to ensure continuity, which means someone else would eventually have to know all about the chest.
        11. If the chest isn’t found for 1,000 years FF could not possibility guarantee any legalities would carry over for so long.
        12. Let’s not overthink this as well.

        All IMO of course!


        • Ann, your #7 is unfortunately false. There is ample tax law precedent, e.g.:

          (You can also ask searcher Sassy about what happened when she found the David Blaine treasure. Short answer: she paid taxes on it.)

          There are differences with the Chase, however. The “gift” angle is potentially in play. But that depends on Forrest, not the finder, and he has given no indication of whether he intends to exercise that option.

          • Zap,
            Even where a gift is given the recipient is responsible for the taxes… Under Federal Laws.
            I’ll add most if not all states do the same… However, there maybe a minimum amount allowed before taxes come into play.

            LOL, I doubt a mil plus will qualify.

          • Hi Seeker: you’re forgetting the lifetime federal gift tax exemption, which is $11.58 million per person (over $23 million per couple) for 2020. Gift taxes are not paid by the recipient *unless* they weren’t paid by the donor.

            I’m not suggesting that Forrest is intending to apply the value of the chest and its contents against his lifetime exemption. But if he did, neither the finder nor Forrest would owe any taxes on that gift (though it would reduce the amount of his exemption available for other gifts to family members or friends).

          • Zap,

            Thank you for mentioning the gift exemption. I appreciate your following up and recognition that there are indeed loopholes. I hope this exchange has been helpful to all who may be worried about taxes or other legal ramifications. We simply won’t know unless and until someone finds the chest. So let’s start there shall we? 🙂 All IMO of course and noted lightheartedly.


          • Zap,
            Seeing we don’t know for sure when the chest was stashed or when it will be found… I would assume for lack of the first… Taxability would fall on the date the chest is retrieved or publicly known.
            However, in the years to come, other factors may come into play… Like when does the trove become something to the effect like, the oak island treasure?

            LOL I can’t imagine how that will unfolds if and when found…

        • Ann… you may want to freshen up on IRS tax codes…. especially section 61. “… all income from whatever source….”
          Some folks may want to try to avoid disclosing finding the treasure for various and sundry reasons. To me, that is a cop out and probably one of the biggest financial blunders the finder could make. But… like Fenn has advised… tuck it away for 30 days before deciding anything.

        • Zap & Ken,

          While there are certainly cases of taxation on found treasure, we cannot possible claim to know the status of FF’s treasure unless and until it is found. If it can indeed be deemed income for taxable purposes that is one thing. But without the treasure in hand and knowledge of the exact contents within the chest we can only guess as to the legal ramifications. Perhaps someone should ask FF of there will be tax issues involved with finding the chest. That would be the only other sure way of knowing without actually finding the chest. That said, no entity such as the IRS will have proof of said income unless it is reported. So while there is concern over taxes, it’s only an issue ultimately if it’s made an issue. It’s not like there is a paper trail affiliated with the treasure. Finding the chest s like finding cash on the ground. Have you ever paid taxes on a penny you picked up? No. There are all sorts of loop holes in the tax code. For any piece of the code you point out that may raise concern, an equal loop hole may be applied. So while I appreciate your shared thoughts, it is still futile to debate what the potential legal ramifications may ultimately be unless and until the chest is found. And I remind you both this is not lost treasure as was the case in the link you provided. Whatever, the case may be I am sure FF thought about all of this prior to hiding the chest. I think efforts would be better spent on actually finding the chest than contemplating what to do after it is found. That’s like trying to figure out what you would do with jackpot lottery money if you ever won it! First you need to win it! Also let’s face it, tax laws are subject to more change than the geography of the chest’s location. If the government really wanted to be sticklers they could write up a separate statute specifically for FF’s chest, but I don’t foresee that happening. So feel free to carry on about what ifs. In the meantime I will be focusing on solving the problem at hand which has nothing to do with taxes.

          All IMO.


        • Ann: just to be clear, I’m not in the least bit concerned about the tax ramifications of finding Forrest’s treasure — that is putting the cart way before the horse. At most one person will have to concern themselves with this issue.

          I only brought it up because in your #7 *you* made the claim that we don’t get taxed for things we find. The fact is that under many (most?) circumstances, the IRS says you do.

          Now, if you find a $20 bill blowing in the desert, I think most would pocket it and think nothing of it. It’s not like the rightful owner could ever be found, and that Jackson isn’t going to change your life. Do you ~legally~ owe taxes on it? Unless you are in a tax bracket that owes no federal tax, then yes. But clearly no normal person would include that in their income.

          • Hey Zap, off topic a bit but I found a $100 bill last week on the side of a road! It was Fake 🙂 My first clue was the Chinese characters on it but it actually looked somewhat legit or at least a scanned copy of a real $100 bill. I kept it though… I think I’m going to frame it 🙂

          • Hi Spallies: I guess your first clue would be if there was a president on that $100. 🙂

          • There was it was Franklin! Almost everything was correct except the strips were not shiny like they are supposed to be, the paper was too slick and there was four Chinese characters on the back in the yellow portion… To me that is very interesting…

          • Zap,

            I’m with you on the lack of concern. My #7 was pretty much in reference to the sort pf example you just gave and not a broad stroke on everything and anything ever found. Obviously some finds are taxable. IMO I don’t think FF’s chest falls under one of those categories, or if it does FF has already taken such a notion into consideration. Either way, as you and I agree, the main concern ought to be finding the thing in the first place. I took up issue when you stated my #7 as being false. That is only true in certain circumstances. Not so much in the ones we have both pointed out. I think perhaps the logician in me came out when reading that. 🙂 No worries though. I hope we have settled some of the concerns others may be having through this exchange. Tangents to the task at hand can be quite distracting. I think , like myself, you are more interested in more substantive discussions. And I am sure for those who have been on the Chase for quite some time, redundancies and side tracks can feel exhausting. Thus I ask for consensus or current views on matters which likely have already been discussed at great length but to which I have not been privy. It’s a way to cut to the Chase, pun intended, so to say. Perhaps too it’s the problem solver in me where we try to throw out the noise and focus on the relevancies. All IMO.


          • Spallies,

            Your find is likely a prop note, or a note sold under the guise of being a prop note. The Chinese are quite good at making them and there are a few varieties but all identical to the real thing except for the extra markings. I know because I recently acquired a few stacks myself. Are the Chinese characters in pink ink? And have you compared the size of the note to an actual US note? The prop notes tends to be slightly smaller, though some are exactly the same size. Ebay recently removed some Chinese based vendors of prop notes, perhaps because they resemble the real thing too closely. US based vendors tend to replace “The United States of America” with something like “For Film Production Only” or some similar phrase. Other than this change in words, some prop notes have no other differences from the real thing. If it is a prop note , be sure not to try using it as real cash! Otherwise, enjoy the find! All IMO.


          • Thank Ann,

            Yes, the Chinese characters are in a pinkish red but I do not see anywhere it says for film use only… Don’t worry, I wont try to trade it for any wooden nickles… 🙂

          • Hi Spallies: that was a bit of a trick question. My intended joke was if there WAS a president on your (fake) $100, that would be your biggest clue that it wasn’t real. 😉 (Same goes for the $10). Neither Ben nor Alexander were presidents. Side note: isn’t it interesting that Forrest mixes those two in his story about the Mountain Men shooting at his hundred dollar bill?

          • Spallies,

            The Chinese notes don’t say for film use only! That’s the appeal in using them. They are essentially copies of the real thing but with some significant mark on them such as your Chinese characters. Others have the words “Prop copy” but only on the back in a similar pinkish color. I think their realistic look may be why the Chinese vendors were taken down from eBay. If you buy any from American companies, they generally differ only by those words and have no special markings. Hope that clears up any confusion. IMO.


          • Ha ha you got me Zap… Hope there is no presidential quiz to find the treasure… I voted for Jonny and Donna 🙂

          • Agree that this is very much cart before the horse talk. Finding the treasure is the hard part. Do that, then hire a good attorney to help figure out what to do next.

          • I don’t agree that this is cart-before-the-horse talk. Knowing what land type the treasure must be on can dramatically limit the search space, and can totally eliminate some possibilities. (It’s especially useful for GIS users.)

          • Hi OnTheChase:

            “I don’t agree that this is cart-before-the-horse talk. Knowing what land type the treasure must be on can dramatically limit the search space, and can totally eliminate some possibilities.”

            But if you’re approaching the problem from a legality/tax standpoint only, you cannot eliminate any of the land types except Native American lands. (And there are probably some who would argue that even those are possible, though I don’t see any clear way how.)

            A much more effective strategy for reducing the search area is to solve WWWH. You still might not know the land type the treasure is on, but you’ll have eliminated over 99.9% of the four-state search area.

  104. I can’t foresee any reason it would be tied up in court. I think Forrest had it pretty well planned out if I understand his comments.

  105. Here’s a legal idea I was just pondering:

    For the sake of argument, let’s say you find the treasure chest inside the boundaries of a National Park. Per Forrest, you should turn the chest over to the park superintendent. Others have extended that advice into thinking that this goes along with the general policy for lost property: You turn it over to the Park Superintendent, they hang onto it for 30 days, and if no one shows up to claim it after than period of time, the property rightfully gets turned over to the finder (I think I summarized that correctly, but let me know if I’m incorrect on anything).

    Alright, now let’s go back and say you find the chest in a National Park, but instead of turning over the chest filled with all of the goodies inside, you remove the contents and just turn over the chest to lost & found. After the 30 days are up and you theoretically get to keep the chest, do you also get to keep the goodies, because they were inside the chest that no one came to claim, even though you didn’t specifically turn them over? Who’s to say that you didn’t find the chest empty in the first place? Hmmmmm….

        • By the fact of the published poem, if you find it it is yours. FF give you title to the gold, meaning the finder is the legal owner. Why would you turn it into the park? Tarry scant, hurry up and leave. Take it and go in peace. Taxes are another thing altogether. ALL IMO and the book.
          PS have a copy of the book with you just in case.

          • Not Obsessed – But the book isn’t notarized. I don’t think it can be relied on as a legally-binding document.
            (But maybe there’s one inside the chest?)

          • Not Obsessed,

            The line in the poem “title to the gold” would never float in a court of law as legal transfer.

            What about the jewels, artifacts, bio, coins – which are legal currency no matter what the metal. How about the 1150 ad chest bronze itself?
            I mean, according to the poem… Only the gold is given away, right?
            As far as the book and/or poem… That is not legally a transfer for ownership… A copy right only allows the author and/or owner of the copy right to present a court case should another entity attempt claims to the work… Not what the work promises.

            With that said, I personally do worry about what I don’t have in my possession.

    • Blex and Spallies, I cannot say you guys think of everything, but you can see it from here? Spallies, put the fake bill on craigslist in a large metro area and tell the story, ask for 150 OBO, then only accept emails for arrangements of sale and have a cash-only policy, take two big male friends to the spot Say the Denver Museum parking lot, you are golden…Blex, leave the word clever and priceless in your solution, however, I for one think that ff did not leave the TC in a National Park or even a National Monument, look at SC Book 231 Yazzie Yarnel Navajo ask any Navajo this spirit kachina, done in honor of Kit Carson, one had real horns, try the Carson National Forrest perhaps near a right of way owned by two states, then the problem may be solved, I have made films for US Immigration and Naturalization SVS in Several National Monuments, Chaco, Salinas and others, it probably will not be in a highly visited area, those place are busy in summer, even on hot afternoons, remember ff infered “remote, obscure isolated set apart,
      mid nowhere,

      (MW Questions with Forrest 6/28/2014). “When I hid it and was walking back to my car, I started laughing out loud and I said Forrest Fenn… did you really do that? ff”

      It was less than a few miles and no one was around…

      National Forrest makes sense even a Wilderness Area, just outside of state or states which have jurisdiction to about 200′ right of way. Yet TC many have been within 500′ of many passing, this mystery is only explained IMO this way, it is either a cliff or ledge or for some reason, people cannot or do not access this place, airport runway does not fit, Perhaps, only Me and Bobby McGee might see…why SC 211 and SC Book 235

      There may be a keyword, AKA “Halt”, but SC Books most likely have a hint or many IMHO, after almost a decade and it is still out there somewhere, I for one wish that if I don’t find it, some wood.


      • Tom Terrific – Yeah, the legal pondering side of things is pretty heavily dependent on where the chest is found, so finding it first is the priority. Worrying about how you will legally be given ownership of the chest is kind of in the same territory of thinking about what you’ll do with the money once you have it!

        I was just kind of spit-balling ideas. We do know that Forrest has hired lawyers and closely looked into the legal implications (because he said so), but he can’t go into too much detail without revealing the type of land area where the chest is hidden. I get the feeling that Forrest isn’t too worried about the finder being able to legally keep the treasure, so I’m not going to let the matter discourage me. Gotta find that treasure first, and we’ll cross those other bridges when we come to them!

        • Probably private land next to forest land. His name’s Forrest too. If it’s in Montana they have high water law so what’s it matter though? He said your supposed to drive off laughing not complicati g laws and stuff. Laws are for the birds in Congress to cry over. Not treasure hunters.

        • In looking at the different land categories Forrest listed on the map, my own opinion is that BLM land is the least legally encumbered with respect to the various treasure scenarios (abandoned property vs. gift vs. treasure cache).

          • OnTheChase, Zap

            Below is what concerns me a bit about BLM land and having the chest location not be “disturbed” for hundreds or more years. Especially #3.

            Q: How are public lands selected for sale?

            A: The law states that the BLM can select lands for sale if, through land-use planning, they are found to meet one of three criteria:

            1) they are scattered, isolated tracts that are difficult or uneconomic to manage;
            2) they were acquired for a specific purpose and are no longer needed for that purpose; or
            3) disposal of the land will serve important public objectives, such as community expansion and economic development.
            (Taken from the BLM website under FAQs about Federal Land Sales.)


          • I was curious about the land acronyms as well. I do not know what each stands for. I’m sure this has been discussed bit could someone relay that info to me. And am I to understand that the color coded acronyms all fall under the category of “Public Lands” at the top of the list? I ask because I am pretty sure tribal lands are not public. Thanks for any clarification.


          • Ann: here you go

            BLM = Bureau of Land Management
            USFS = US Forestry Service
            NPS = National Parks Service
            FWS = Fish and Wildlife Service
            Tribal = Native American lands

            There are different rules that would apply to the treasure on different land types. For example if the treasure is discovered on NPS land, your legal obligation is to turn the treasure over to the park ranger. If the treasure is discovered on tribal lands, probably the tribe owns the treasure. etc.

            Of the land types, BLM is the least encumbered of the public land types, and there are very few rules and restrictions (with respect to the FF treasure) compared to those that would apply to the other land types. In fact (not really relevant to the FF treasure, but) if you discover gold on BLM land, without even owning the land per se, you can file a claim to extract it, and keep the wealth as the discoverer:


          • OnTheChase,

            Thanks for the acronym definitions. I was not concerned about them in terms of potential legal ramifications. I have made my pinion on the matter quite clear. there will be no legal morass for the person(s) who find(s) the chest. Instead, I am interested in the map FF has used, as opposed to all the other possible maps of the same area he could have used. Your help is most appreciated. Thank you.


          • Ann: You’re welcome. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can find digital maps for each of the land types on various government websites. Sometimes you can browse the maps in your browser, sometimes you have to download them as a file for loading into a GIS program like QGIS. I have found this really useful in the past to determine what land category a particular location falls within.

  106. Finders keepers. If you aren’t too loose-lipped, you won’t risk losing the trove to some silly
    structure of being ripped off. As always, IMO.

  107. Honesty…who cares about legal issues? Even if something went askew, for whatever reason, the Chase ends.

    The 2 Positives are, first and foremost, IMO, WE GET TO HEAR FROM FORREST!!!
    Then write your book and movie, Millions! Now wouldn’t that be life-changing? Not enough? Heck no! It don’t end there! You just left your MARK in HISTORY!

    Now, isn’t that enough? No, maybe Forrest wants the chest back? No problem, right? How about Dal? Don’tcha think that a nice NUGGET would be a nice gesture? A momento for all his hard work(AKA, 2nd place). There’s plenty of deserving people.

    Think about it, YOU win peeps…and, don’t forget where you came from. Make your mark!!!

    One last thing, I watch news all the time, so why is it that the WORLD has NOT ever heard of FORREST FENN???

    What? It took someone dying for ME to finally hear about this guy? I’m honestly sorry for the unfortunate losses…and if it were me, I’d like to be man enough to thank them all, somehow….

    BUT, it just makes no sense to me. Seriously! Who is this guy?
    Honestly…IMO…Forrest, UR DA MAN!!!

    Oh, and we get to send all those haters n naysayers —–> HOME!!!
    S.O.S.—>HELP / Stuck On Stupid

    IMO Only…


  108. I think the s corporation sounds fancy, but should not affect the treasure hunting itself. I figured out what to do in intent, and with a little praying. Taxes and corporation or whatever is all finished up business stuff (that’s what professional lawyers are for) and any self respcting treasure hunter would probably have a lawyer or accountant or something anyway.

  109. I’m grateful for the treasure hunt and Dal to though. Otherwise I would have never heArd about s corporations and stuff.

  110. Ok but like seriously, was reading ponderin again….if you found the treasure box, who cares? Pay taxes, corporate, whatever, it is the Fenn treasure box. Lace it up and run with it screaming to the world. Woot woot magic treasure box found, that’s worth everything in the story of a lifetime. Grandkids minds will be blown!!! And that’s priceless. Period.

  111. If I was a lawyer of this flavor, I would use “Intellectual Property” laws and rights to decide ownership. TTOTC is Copyrighted and whoever is the intelectual solver will be given the rights to the chest using this vaguely written law when F gives all his Bananas back.

  112. Tell you what I would do if I found Forrest’s treasure chest. First, I would take pictures of the chest and its location (to submit with my “winning solve” story, of course!) I would keep the location a secret, and take the chest directly to Forrest (hopefully he lives to see it found) and present him with his turquoise bracelet. Then I would hand him the chest and tell him I found his “lost” items, and leave its fate up to Forrest. If he were to decide that I should keep it, then technically, he would have given me the chest (as opposed to me finding the chest.) Although, at that point, I suppose then some sort of “gift tax” may apply…. But who cares?! The finder will still get the satisfaction and recognition. Plus, I’ve always wanted to meet Forrest, and what a way to introduce myself, right?! Just my 2 cents’ worth.

    • Huh? That’s what I was thinking. But except for the bracelet and a couple other mystery items, I expect to find the chest empty to begin with. I think f “forgot” to put the gold, etc. in the chest. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

      A father hadn’t heard from his son for a while after he went off to college. I know how to get him to write. The father sends a card and a note saying he enclosed $500. He conveniently left the money out of the envelope. The son writes back and says he’s fine but points out the money is missing. The fathers trick worked. End of story, IMHO.

    • This was always my plan too.. to return the chest to Forrest, who could then choose to gift it back to me as the finder. But I suspect that would mess with Forrest’s carefully considered legal solution. For starters it would transfer the tax burden from the finder to the giver (Forrest), and to pay that he would have to liquidate some of the treasure or other assets before gifting the remainder. I think if anyone tried to do this, Forrest would refuse to take anything but the bracelet back.

  113. IMO, just pondering.

    If and when Forrest Fenn’s treasure chest is found the finder is not finding a lost treasure chest, he has found a treasure chest that Forrest says he is giving to the finder. When he hid that TC and wrote that poem and had it published and said that who ever finds it can keep it; that makes it a gift to the finder from Forrest and no tax is owed by the finder. Forrest, or his S Corp. will be responsible for any gift tax . No need to give it back to him so he can gift it back to the finder. In fact, if you give it back to him you may then be responsible for any gift tax that my be owed. Think twice, act once.

    Forrest may have had the TC put into a S Corp before he hid it and therefore it absolves him or his family from any lawsuits regarding the treasure hunt. The S Corp would then be responsible. Why else did he even mention S Corp and then quickly say he didn’t want to go there. No one knows where the treasure is but Forrest, he’s been adamant about that, and even says if he were to tell anyone it would be his son-in-law, Shiloh, and then said, he was not even going to tell him. Hmmm….how else will anyone know when it’s found if the finder doesn’t tell? Yes, I know this won’t help lead to the TC, but it is something to consider if you are the lucky one (smart one) one to find it. The S Corp will know when it’s found, but does not know the location of the hidey spot.

    IMO, the type of land it is on is not a problem, nor is the legal or tax issues, that is if you don’t rush to tell all. Think twice, maybe three or four times, act once. After all is done taken care of, then “Woot, woot magic treasure box is found,” Bryan u. Yes, go make millions on your story and book deals. Start by finding WWWH, lol.

    • I think you hit the Nail on the head! It’s the most logical explanation for his remarks in the interview. I hope the Marmot doesn’t see his shadow this year so it will be an early spring.

    • ManOwar – nicely stated. I have always said that I would do exactly what Forrest says….take the chest and go in peace…..sleep on it for 30 days and THEN make my move. The legal stuff is the last thing I’m worried about. What’s the worst case scenario, “they (who or what ever they may be)” take it back and claim it as theirs? That would surely not sit well with the Forrest or the media in my opinion. And I think the last thing anyone would want regardless of what type of land it’s found on, is bad publicity. (Or Karma for that matter)

      Now all that said, if for some reasons the circumstances do not turn out in my favor, of course I’d be angry and disappointed, but at least I would have bragging rights and all those wonderful adventures so I don’t come up totally empty handed. So back to what matters most right now…..the Chase! 🙂

    • ManOwar – What if the finder asks Forrest to give the treasure to the Smithsonian? What happens then?

      Thanks for all that great info. in your post! That makes total sense.

      • Lisa C. – Why ask Forrest to give it to the Smithsonian? Just give it to them yourself and take the tax credit for your gift to a non profit 501 (c) (3). I’m pretty sure the Smithsonian is a 501 (c) (3) Corp.

        Once you find the TC it’s yours. It belongs to you, even Forrest has said that the finder can do whatever they want with it and he doesn’t care what they do, it’s out of his hands. So if you give it to anyone other than a non profit 501 (c) (3) you will be responsible for any tax that may be due. Now, remember though there is (currently, but may change in the future) a life time gift exemption from gift taxes, I believe it’s $11.58 million for an individual and $23.16 million for married couples. So, it’s really not applicable to this at all, unless you are already so rich to have more than those amounts, or if the Democrats get in control, they will get rid of the gift tax exemption. Nice of them…lol.

        Don’t worry…..just find the chest and be happy. In fact be happy anyway, you are here, alive. There is a saying, ” Life is what you make of it.” It’s your choice. Good luck.

        • Another note, there is an annual limit on gifts to other than non-profit and others: i.e.,
          Gifts to charities approved by the IRS
          A gift to your spouse (as long as he or she is a U.S. citizen)
          A gift to cover someone’s education tuition, if paid directly to the educational institution (does not cover gifts to cover room and board, books or supplies)
          Gifts to cover someone’s medical expenses, if paid directly to the medical facility
          A gift to a political organization

          The annual limit currently is $15,000/$30,000 if married, anything over that given to anyone person is reportable and taxable to IRS. Good luck….get a good tax lawyer.

        • ManOwar – Thank you for that recommendation! I was hoping I could just return the bronze chest and contents to Forrest as ‘treasures bold’ or ‘found objects’, and let him do what he said would get him excited (@15:50 in this video):

          But I ain’t gonna wait 2,000 years to do that, Forrest! Although, I am watching the first seasons of the “Outlander” series, and I know I could probably travel through some ancient Stelae stones, near Inverness in Scotland, to do that. But, then, maybe the Yellowstone SuperVolcano will have erupted and buried my ‘S’ blaze and hidey spot in the course of the Madison River at Baker’S Hole by then. And maybe the Smithsonian Museums will be located on Mars?

          Do you think the taxes will be higher on Mars? Will I use a means of transportation to get to the Smithsonian, then, devised by Elon Musk, based on studies done by Stephen Hawking of black hole gravity properties?

          Giggles. I thought it was funny when Forrest referred to Subchapter S rules in that video with Doug Preston. Since my blaze is an ‘S’.

          • ManoWar – And let’s look at that ‘Subchapter’ word etymology, shall we?:

            Word origin
            [sub- + chapter]
            sub- is a prefix occurring originally in loanwords from Latin (subject; subtract; subvert; subsidy). On this model, sub- is freely attached to elements of any origin and used with the meaning “under,” “below,” “beneath” (subalpine; substratum), “slightly,” “imperfectly,” “nearly” (subcolumnar; subtropical), “secondary,” “subordinate” (subcommittee; subplot)

            In the Poem:

            “If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
            Look quickly down your quest to cease.”

          • Manowar – And then there is the Poem line:

            “And hide my trove for all to seek?”

            Has a question mark. So do riddles, Mr. Shakespeare.

            My namesake, Elizabeth I, had much ado about Actions in Trover:

            Trover actions frequently concerned the finding of lost property. It could also involve cargo on ships, such as those lost at sea and later found. Trover often involved cases in which the only “most correct” owner could be determined. For instance, if an envelope of bank notes or currency were to be found, the court would attempt to identify the true owner, but this would often prove to be impossible. In that case, the finder would be the next best owner and be considered the rightful possessor. Trover cases have been described as “finders keepers, losers weepers” cases.

            Forrest mentioned that (paraphrased) every word in the Poem was deliberate. And he finished the Poem with this line:

            “I give you title to the gold.”

      • Lisa, the only What If’s you have to be concerned about are in the poem. I know Forrest mentioned Smithsonian but you must always keep, first things first. Keep things in context to the poem. You must raise Rabbits for a living.

  114. I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Very recently a dear friend of mine was telling me about some local history, as I am fairly new to the area having moved here a few years ago. The story he told me involved a very convoluted legal proceeding that involved the Antiquities Act, BLM land, Native American tribal land, private property rights, etc.

    In 1990, a local group of archaeologists discovered the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found. It put their small town (Hill City, SD) on the map and everyone was joyous… until the FBI came in and took it from them. And that began a ten-year battle which ended badly.

    My friend brought me over to his place and rented the movie “Dinosaur 13” which tells this story. I was in total shock at what happened. As I watched, I kept thinking, this could happen to whoever finds FF’s treasure chest!

    The movie is a great documentary and tells the story well. I highly recommend everyone watch it. We watched it on, but I think you can also get it on Google Play, Amazon, Itunes, etc. Check it out.

    I know FF said he tried to think of everything, but the movie Dinosaur 13 really made me think. So I guess the first step is to FIND the chest, then worry like crazy. LOL


    • Lori, thank you for that, sounds very interesting, I’ll look for it.

      (maybe I shouldn’t, my blood pressure usually can’t take the “government”)

      • I feel you Writis. My husband keeps me away from the TV when it involves rather “interesting” approaches the government takes towards things of such nature.

    • We called her sue(Sioux) the T-Rex. The feds took her to Chicago museum if I understand correctly. I live in sodak and have nothing else nice to say on the matter….(faint sound of drumming and war cries in distance)

      • I also think that there’s something amiss with this point of legality. Yes there’s gonna be a couple dozen lying lawsuits, but make em prove it to a jury, evidence. I don’t think tc is where anyone would think in anyway they would concieve. Secondly, I have thought since the beginning that Forrest has been honest and up front about the poem, chest and it’s contents. If he was being dishonest, the authorities could’ve compelled the facts and truth, well as of today they have not. So unless it’s political or someone blowing smoke up a skirt, the legal business on my end seems like hogwash.

      • Hello Brian,
        Yes, they named her “Sue” after Sue Hendrickson who discovered her. I seriously doubt that FF’s chest is in a location that would cause the same scandal, but it is a possibility. I don’t believe FF’s location would be such that would be this problematic. But I have no doubts that when you are talking about a multimillion-dollar prize, the government and a whole lot of crazies will want a free piece of the pie.


    • Thanks Lori. Sounds like something I would both enjoy and to Writis’s point, get very frustrated with! LOL!

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