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