The saga of the search for Forrest Fenn’s treasure continues to twist and turn through the court system.

Two weeks ago, David Harold Hanson of Colorado Springs, Colo., filed a lawsuit against Fenn for $1.5 million, claiming Fenn has deprived him of the treasure through fraudulent statements and misleading clues.

Now an Arizona treasure hunter has filed a motion to intervene as a defendant for Fenn in that case, claiming he found the site of the treasure — which, in his view, is a “virtual art installation or metaphorical ‘treasure.’ ”

Brian Erskine of Prescott, Ariz., said in his complaint, filed in U.S. District Court last week, that he “solved the quest,” adding Fenn did not mislead anyone about the search.

He said the site in question is located in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, between the towns of Silverton and Ouray and accessible by U.S. 550, also known as the “Million Dollar Highway.”

His court filing says he presumes Fenn “concealed a box at the site only metaphorically.” In addition, the court document says Erskine assumes a “controlled, voluntary transfer of box ownership by execution of a legal deed” from Fenn to whoever finds the treasure.

Among other arguments for his case, Erskine says abandoning a chest of valuables in the wild, as Fenn says he has done, would pose significant risks and uncertainty.

Speaking by phone, Erskine said he is positive he is right.

“I solved it. I can prove it,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any reason [for anyone else] to pursue it.”

He said he spoke to Fenn by phone and Fenn said he had sent Hanson’s filing to an attorney to review and that he would not comment until the attorney got back to him.

Fenn told The New Mexican in an email last week that the treasure is still out there, outdoors, and that Erskine hasn’t found it.

“The treasure is still where I hid it more than 10 years ago,” Fenn said.

As of this year, an estimated 350,000 people have gone searching for the chest laden with valuables. Fenn said he hid the loot somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

Some have died in the hunt, while others have quit jobs and spent thousands of dollars to try to find it — using clues Fenn gave in a 24-line poem published in his autobiography, The Thrill of the Chase, and online.

In 2017, Fenn told The New Mexican the chest weighs 20 pounds and its contents weigh another 22 pounds. He said he brought the chest to its hiding place over two separate trips, by himself. The hunt has drawn worldwide attention and a number of unwanted visitors to Fenn’s Santa Fe residence, some of whom said they believe it is hidden there.

Fenn said the treasure is not at his home.

In his court filing, Erskine lays out a lengthy and complicated explanation for how he used various clues to find the site of the treasure.

Among those clues is an illustration by Allen Polt, found in the epilogue of Fenn’s book, and an outdoor photo taken by Erskine in August 2018 at the site in question.

Erskine said he searched the site with tools, including a metal detector, “finding nothing of tangible value.”

In the conclusion of his 17-page filing, Erskine asks the court to grant his motion to intervene in the case to validate Fenn’s argument that he didn’t deceive anyone in the ongoing adventure quest.

Via email, Hanson declined to comment.

Erskine said in an email if Fenn does award him the treasure, he plans to sell it to “an institutional buyer for display/curation/public museum enjoyment and more quest development as a great cultural and literary legacy of the West, ideally here in Prescott, Arizona, which is a place a lot like Santa Fe.”

He said he doesn’t think people, including treasure hunters, will be disappointed that the search may come to an end.

“I don’t think there’s any loss of hundreds of thousands of people running around the West looking for something that is not there,” he said.

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(62) comments

Dee Womack

What the heck is this? If you scroll it says the chest was found last year.

Christine Leonzal

Brian Erskine,

I am embarrassed for you. You are aggressively telling everyone ie. social media, Newspapers, the freaking police and now our court system that the quest is over, it has been solved and there is no reason anyone should continue searching. Im sorry, but who do you think you are to make a self acclaimed notification like that? That's not your place. Forrest Fenn is the ONLY person who can call the search off and make notification that HIS quest is solved. Not you - him.

And if you really listen to FF when he speaks then you would know he was actually asked, how will the world know when the chest has been found and the search is over? And his reply was, They will know. That being said, FF was smart enough to put all this together, do you think he would just leave loose ends? Highly doubtful. He has a plan arranged for this too. Its a 3 Million dollar find. And based off his intelligence, his plan for notifying the chest being found will carry over after his death even. One thing I can say im very certain on, is that his plan to notify this information does not in any way involve YOU being the voice of it.

Your not even respectfully suggesting that maybe you have the solve, you are out right just telling everyone, forcing it actually that the game is over. You have no right to do this. Do you not understand that?

You mention is above statements that you have never actually had a conversation with FF. That you also cant understand why FF hasnt announced himself that the poem has been solved. What ignorance you display here.

It is clearly obvious why FF has not reached out to you and why he hasnt addressed publicly a winner. Because you did not solve his quest. He addresses you by first and last name in a comment he did publicly make, saying you have not splved his quest and that the chest remains in the same place he hid it 10 years ago.

ok, so that may be heart breaking to hear, but its the truth and you need to start accepting that.

But your not and it is bizarre behavior to me. The person who ownes this quest has told you that you are wrong - yet you continue to push upon anyone who will listen that you are right, no matter what, you are telling FF basically that you are right - you are telling him what his own poem means and where it leads. I men how can you even tell the man who created it - what it is?

You also said, its not about the clues in the poem its about finding the location. Here you go again, telling others how its suppose to be, as if you own the quest - no, FF said specifically, the only way to find the chest is by following the clues in the poem consecutively. Who are you to change and force the rules of the game?

Your idea about the chest physically not being there is so far ridiculous I dont even where to begin with this one.

So Ill start with this, shame on you. FF has done an amazing thing for us that I will never in my life time probably ever see again. He, out of kindness and decency has put a little mystery back into our lives. Also a chance to experience the outdoors with loved ones - and the reward, he hand picked a treasure of beauty, and placed it inside a real treasure chest - that he is just giving away to who ever finds it.

And you have the nerve to strip him of this wonderful gesture by again telling everyone, that there was no chest - that the find was just the location of the end marked by a picture you took your self with an over lay of something uou took out of his book. That the quest was solved, but there is no chest - Forrest has it somewhere else. You honestly make my stomach sick. FF hid a real chest with real treasure inside for anyone to find. Who are you to tell people he did not. what is wrong with you? FF doesnt say, at the end you will find a proxy, he says you will find the very chest he hid. again, who are you to change the rules to what you want?

FF also asks nicely for the return of his bracelet that he placed inside the chest once it is found. Explain that.

So, your theory about there not being a chest at the end location, that upon solving the quest, FF will make arrangements to get you the actual treasure or title to the gold, is faulty and there for makes no sense and should be immediately discredited - hypothetically here, your proxy picture that represents the chest, what if you didnt come to this conclusion before FF passed away. Think about how stupid your idea is now - when FF is dead, how is he supposed to legally meet up with you and transfer physically the title and the gold to you? hes dead. Doesnt work out man.

I read y0ur solve. The first thing i noticed about it is that you put way to much time into it and made it unnecessarily complex and long. FF said that you should not over think it and that a child could solve it. Okay, I had my 16 year old son read your solve. Many times you lost him in the long stories that dont pertain to the poem. He was confused at times and did not see these matches you claim to see. So, in the opinion of child, that FF said could solve it - you went way to far and made it no longer simple like it should be.

Second thing I noticed about your solve is that you did not follow a single thing FF has said to do in order to solve it. He said figuring out the clues in the poem will lead you to the chest. Your solve does not include figuring out the clues in the poem - instead, you found what you thought were clues else where and forced them into the poem so how. such as 45 degree, 2-4-2 etc. You cant find what you think are clues then make them fit into the poem incorrectly.

And just one last small thing that has really irritated me is that you again to self claim you know the difference between fishing boots and timber boots - and you know that the man in the illustration is without doubt wearing fishing boots. water proof at that. I find it interesting that just by looking at a black and white skettched picture you were able to possitively make that identification. Well, like you said, because you know how to tell the difference and they were definitely not timber boots.

alright look, you cant be making claims like this and Ill tell you why, first off it is impossible to tell from the sketch those are fishing boots = water proof at that. You dont know that. There is no details sketched into the boots. they are black, medium height. that is all you can say about them. Tell me, how is it that you know with out doubt those boots are waterproof? I am very interested in the facts here how you know that.

Well, all it is a wrong guess. And Ill tell you why - I am a professional wild land firefighter. I have so many timber boots. Adnd you are wrong - and I will prove to you right now you are wrong. You dont know how to tell the boots apart like you claim, other wise you would know, timber boots, because i own a pair or two, come in many different styles, one being the most popular is the one that in length is very similar to a fishing boot in lenth. My best friend is a boat captain fyi.. so for you to force on some one that the boot in the sketch is a fishing boot and not a timber boot, is not true at all. you cant tell from that generic drawing. If I were to sketch a pair of timber boots on that guy, in black, shadding the whole thing in like it is, you would not be able to tell the difference. impossible.

I see you did work hard on your solve, but you need to take down your website. You are handing out infactual information. I sorry you solve is not correct. but you cant be telling things like you are - the quest is not solved. Try again. But dont be telling other searchers its over - not your place and its not true

Spooky One

Brian Erskine,

Anyone can file a motion to intervene as a witness on behalf of a defendant. It does not guarantee that they will be, however. You actually have very little say in the matter. Concerning your “solve,” it’s not as grand or as consequential as as you believe it will be for adjudication, let alone for any future plans that you might be thinking about positioning yourself for. Most can prove that they have reasonably, factually, and truthfully solved Fenn’s riddle (photos, charts, quotes, diagrams and all), according to their interpretive beliefs. At the end of the day, it’s your interpretation vs Fenn’s word. You can guess what leverage you don’t have. Your “proof” is conjecture and without identifiably demonstrable verification. Courts also take into consideration the motives and intentions of material witnesses and if considered malice, have many legal options at their disposal to deal with such matters. So, yes, you might think you can raise havoc, but tread carefully through those waters. My opinion? Start anger management.


Brandon Button

I chanced upon this article and discussion while following up on the status of the Forrest Fenn treasure hunt. I have been expecting to hear from Mr. Fenn, but to date have not. I am quite surprised to learn of this lawsuit and of the two individuals who claim to have solved the puzzle and are in a legal disputation. I am surprised because I solved the puzzle back in August and September and have tried to contact Forrest via various modes of communication and as of yet have not received any response from him. Like the other two gentleman, I figured out that the actual treasure chest was not at the solve location, at least not as of my visits in 2019. I believe that it had been there early on in the hunt, but that at some point in time, I estimate 2013-2015, Forrest retrieved the treasure and replaced it with a proxy item of no intrinsic value. I have found the proxy item. If anyone from this periodical has the ability to contact Mr. Fenn, and let him know of my claim, I would greatly appreciate it. Again, I DO NOT have the treasure, but I do believe that I have solved the puzzle and have found the proxy item which Forrest intended to be found in place of the treasure.


So you did not solve it, is what you are saying? You found a proxy, but if we go on what Forrest has said, he did not leave a proxy. He left the box and we know this as it has been confirmed by many people that he in fact left the box hidden. Great story, if you have found it I am curious as to why you have not revealed where you have found it.

Good story though!

Brandon Button

Thank you, LMNO PQRS. I do believe that Forrest Fenn hid the actual treasure as he said, when the hunt began. I also believe that any statements he has made in relation to the hunt in the time since have been truthful, at least at the time that such statements were made. However, I also believe that many of his statements have contradictory meanings depending on how the statement is received/understood by the reader/listener. I believe that Forrest used very deliberate word choices in all of his follow up clues and commentary, just as he did with the poem, and that because of psychological pre-conditioning on the part of most readers/listeners, most have interpreted his statements as Forrest intended, i.e. the wrong way, causing them to continue to search in the wrong places. I do not feel that Forrest was being deceitful in any way; he was just cleverly using the English language, counting on people to make incorrect assumptions about what he said. He made a really cool treasure hunt and naturally he wants it to go on for as long as possible.

That being the case, I also believe that at some point in the hunt, either through legal counsel he may have received, or just himself thinking things through, I believe that he realized how problematic it was to have the actual treasure out there where it could be devastated by wildfire, harsh weather, flooding, bears and so forth. I also think that he did not want it to be discovered accidentally. Nor did he want it to be found by a searcher, the finder potentially being in physical danger by wackos out there who might try to harm them and steal the treasure (Forrest has had plenty of wackos threatening harm and ill will toward him over the treasure). Lastly, I don't think Forrest wanted a searcher to find the actual treasure and have the option of choosing to not report it being found, i.e. just melting down the gold and selling it. So, to eliminate all of these unfavorable outcomes, I believe that at some point Forrest retrieved the treasure and replaced it with the proxy item I mentioned previously. What he did with the actual treasure one can only speculate. He has said it is not at his house, and I believe it is not at his house. He would likely have either placed it in a vault somewhere for safe keeping, or hid it somewhere else where it could not easily be found.

I would be happy to add my testimony to the lawsuit, if called to do so, revealing what I believe to be the correct (and elegantly simple, yet very clever) solution in order to help exonerate Forrest Fenn from any wrong doing. And of course to hopefully receive title to the gold!


Interesting analysis for sure.

If you have read deeply into Forrest writings you will discover that idea that I believe was his intention behind this whole adventure.

Is simply to get people out into the natural world. I believe he could care less whether someone finds it tomorrow or in 1,000 years. He clearly has made it very clear it makes no difference to him and has stated several times that he has never been back to the location since its hiding. Now we can surely speculate on anything he says. But that is the beauty of all of this. Makes it a journey. However, the box is there to be found with just the poem, only the poem!

This is a treasure hunt, not a step by step process for a brain surgery. It is in fun, joy and to experience the natural world. One has to read between the lines, interpret what they think is the best solution to a fun puzzle. He clearly had an excessive amount of monies to afford to do this and does not care about anything in the box and was willing to let it go, with the exception of the bracelet he would like to buy back as he has stated.

I believe he could care less what the finder does with the treasure, that is up to them and he knew that when placing it where he did. He made that decision to let it all go the moment he walked away from it for good. He may pass away before it is found and could care less about it ever being found at all. Did you read about him burying the bells in the mountains and could care less if anyone finds them.

As far as fire. Forrest if very aware that landslides, nature, fire, storms, anything could affect that box, let alone moisture among other things. He knew all this and simply -- does not care! I bet anything on that, because if you read about his life and his philosophy about life and the natural world - it is all a cycle as is the treasure. It is on its own journey and what happens to it - during its time hidden, is the natural course of events for that Bronze Box that has been around for a long time on its own journey, long before you and I. Forrest, I speculate is totally fine with that..

The lawsuit against him is ridiculous and simply lame. If someone can't find it or did not find it, maybe they should examine their own folly -- enjoy nature and make another attempt at another solution. Going after Fenn does no one any good and simply brings bad energy to a simply wonderful experience to get people out to explore the world and not sit on their computers and Xboxes and not see nature at its best.

My guess is your solution as so many solutions are wrong or off or in some way, faulty to finding the actual box. It is not easy to find. As I have often said.

Funny thing is you never reveal where you found it, so I believe that you don't even truly believe your solution is correct. I mean if you think y0u have found it then it is over, correct? I don't think you have - as I keep looking as do many people and I have some strong inclinations as many people do, but until it is revealed I will keep looking and maybe I will be in the right place and maybe someone will have found it, but until that day comes - I get to combine the old west, treasure hunting, traveling, and walking in nature on a quest and great experiences and this whole thing is like 10,000 galaxies and a straw!

Can you see the Trees Thru the Forrest, or can you See Forrest thru the Trees?


Can you see the Trees Thru Forrest or can you see Forrest Thru the Trees!

I ask you?


You certainly can’t claim to have solved anything if you don’t have the Roman Bronze Box. Though- thorough- thoughtful - creative and funny to read. It proves nothing about solving the quest. The search continues aside from some enlightenment and analysis. As Forrest says you only need the poem and your imagination.

Ron Toney

Lord have Mercy. We enjoy flying out once a year the past 3 years to enjoy nature and our solve of the year! Why are you bothering FF with this lawsuit? He is just letting folks have fun and hopefully witness a find. Dude you've lost your mind!

Chad Rayborn

Right across from the Veterans place downtown there is a Phi. A Key. The Golden Ratio. Further than 8.25 miles (33/4) 33rd degree/4 fathers, is 33.6/4 (gotta love the 369), which is 8.4 miles.

The distance to the Weir Well also.

Ne'er (near) comes from the saying ne'er do well. Apply it to the well, you have weir do we'll. Translation: where due we will.

By the 24/62

Chad Rayborn

Galatians 6:9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

The Weir Well on the forest line. Read the clues again now. The Box of Gold and Box of River roads will lead you there. I would go check but dont have the money. Good luck.

Golden Child

Forrest Fenn is a deceased Art Collector and Photographer from Texas that passed in the 20's.

The person that you see in the "Thrill of the Chase" is using a Stage Name. His real name is Lt. Col. Michael Aquino, a man that was employed by the DoD under Sidney Gottlieb, who was working on numerous Psychological Warfare Operations in the past, that saw his involvement in the creation of the notorious ciphers and killings behind the deaths of numerous people in the past.

In his book, the "Thrill of the Chase" he took the image on Pg.25 and altered them to state that he was "The Zodiac".

You can see this verified in the fabled Art Installation called Kryptos at the CIA's Headquarters in Langley, which maps the location of the two people involved in those killings. Search FB for /CrackedKryptos and /ZodiacCiphersSolved.

You can be assured that this entire affair is a hoax and an attempt to lure people to their deaths from the continuation of his affairs that were encrypted with his identity into the ciphers that showed he is a Serial Killer and has begun to recruit others into his affairs. The numerous deaths of the other searchers are testament enough to his past, as is the obvious state of the deliberate indifference from the investigations that were redacted in the Church Hearings, and the Presidio Child Abduction and Molestation Trials that saw him discharged formally from the Military.

He left San Francisco in 1972 to avoid detection in California, to make his second home in Santa Fe, where he immediately aroused suspicion that he was a shady dealer in illegally acquired and forged art/artifacts.

Research shows he is also the fabled John Doe #2 from the OKC Bombing and has ties to a few key players that were involved in Drug and Human Trafficking tied to the Bush/Clinton Cabal.

Beware of his lure.

Anna Warren

Golden Child, use that big brain to solve some real mf'n problems- global climate change, hunger, thirst, poverty, etc. Or go ahead and reveal yourself as the true Zodiac. You have said too much, my friend.

Chad Rayborn

Golden Child, if you take a look at the alleged killing sites and run along the longitude line north and south, you will always come across a military installation. I ran across a Dorothy shop. Didn't the higher ups have a secret club? Werent they labeled "Friends of Dorothy?"

Brian Coombs

There is one word in that poem that none of you have figured out. The word must be understood and even then you must tie it in to the stories to fully understand the location. Once you know what it is... the books are a wealth of hints on almost every page and in multiple amounts. Forrest said he thought of everything and he certainly did. Almost everything in his books are a clue.

Peter Campbell

Brian. You are correct. The one word is "it" . What does it represent. It refers to the Madison river. I have a solve and went to the location on Monday. I found an abandoned raft, and took it across the Madison to the blaze where the rock with the hole in it was. A yogurt container was left there and a stick in the deep hole that was full of water. A pair of gloves were left behind the rock hiding the person who found it as they opened the treasure. I got there second. My website has my whole solve.

Brian Coombs

The man is nowhere near the treasure. I have solved the poem and I will retrieve it soon as spring arrives. I can assure you that no translations or mathmatics are in involved. Both of his books contain tons of clues and when I reveal the treasure everyone searching is going to be shocked at the actual plain simplicity of it all.ill give you all one clue. The treasure is in Montana. It is my opinion that you cannot solve the poem without his books the thrill of the chase and too far to walk. You have to put the stories together to really be tuned in. I read both books everyday for a year before I finally put it together. Read the poem and then the books over and over. My name is Brian and I know the true solve to this poem. You will all know the answers this bring. These lawsuits are frivolous and their is no prize but the adventures to those who can't figure it out! This search ends this year and Forrest himself is aware of that! You can bet the house on it!

Adam Weiss

Actually he is closer than you are, Forrest said in his more recent interviews that he is calling off the search in Montana, Wyoming, and northern Colorado.

Enos Fields

You didn't solve anything. As soon as you started translating native american words you failed. Fenn clearly stated no translating would be needed. It's plain and simple. Keep looking.

Brian Erskine

It's straightforward:

- Fenn is honest, and so is his quest

- His clues do lead to a unique outdoor site with proof: a marker

- That marker is an image, an artwork

- That image is an overlay of the drawing from the epilogue of Fenn’s memoir onto a photo of the site, as shown at

- Fenn keeps any box of gold elsewhere (quite sensibly)

- The quest ends only if Fenn confirms the marker, though the marker is also obviously correct


Fenn has two choices to make

- Confirm the (objectively correct) marker, or not

- Give the box of gold (which is by title transfer, per last line of poem), or not

JR Angell

You didn’t solve the quest.

The correct solve will be simple & elegantly . Yours is not - not at all.

Fenn give[s] us (present tense) title in the form of the poem. Not future tense (he will give) you moron.

You claim to “objectively correct” is plain wrong. Your solve is Subjective.

Either he isn’t a liar and the treasure is exactly, physically, where he says it is in the poem.

Or he is a liar and there is no treasure.

I will not reply anymore because it’s obvious you are delusional and convinced of your own omnipotence.

Brian Erskine

Hi JR,

Let's go point by point with a focus on simplicity and elegance.

As I just swore under oath as part of a motion in court, thus having "moved" "with confidence," I did solve the quest for its location with visual proof. I referred to the virtual proof as a "metaphorical treasure" for three reasons: first, it's a composite artwork; second, it references the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers near Toledo and its consequences in lost land for the Native Americans, which is what they valued most; third, it's a marker or valid substitute for the actual box of gold, a common, protective feature of most public treasure quests, including one I cited now ongoing in France, which has a bronze statue of an owl, rather than a composite image, as a marker.

The key question remaining is how Fenn will choose his legacy. While I have respectful, positive suggestions for him, a thorough understanding of his quest down to literary detail, and a listening ear, that's not something I control or purport to control. He could choose to ignore me, and I wouldn't persist, though ignoring me would not make the objective, visual truth go away, because now it's out. Ignoring the cow that left the barn does not mean the cow never left the barn.

Short of possession of the box of gold, which despite Fenn's (true) statement above I have never claimed, nothing could be more "simple and elegant" than a single image. The visual matching the outdoor photo of the site to which the poem directs, with the epilogue drawing from his memoir, is single-image proof. (A full-size image of my avatar, which is the solution, is available at

The "simplest, most elegant" way to give control of a box of gold, should Fenn choose to do so, is with paper and a key, like buying a house or a car, and just as the last line of the poem says. Never having met Fenn, I make no prediction about whether Fenn will choose to do so. Generally, I tend not to worry much about what's beyond my control.

The image and its supporting details as presented at and in court are objectively correct. Luck did not play a role in the composite image manifesting in the place already known to be correct for many calendar quarters, which is why I was there to begin with to perceive the match. Such persistence on my part implies total confidence in Fenn. The value of the single image is mainly in ready communicability. Showing is always better than telling, and the image ties the written work together. The fact that Fenn even provided for this objective correctness, this visual proof, is suggestive in a positive way.

I have never called Fenn a "liar" or used any similarly negative or disrespectful language with respect to him, and never would, even to suggest doubt, as you have. These are appalling character slanders you have introduced into the dialogue, and I flatly reject them. Quite the contrary, I have sided with him in court, bringing written and visual evidence of his truthfulness against allegations someone else leveled. The fact that the box of gold is *not co-located with* the site of the outdoor photo is foreseeably wise on Fenn's part, not dishonest.

You and I have not met, so I don't understand your negative assessment of my intelligence and mental health. I haven't made any such personal observations about you. However, I do thank you again, for your unique contribution.


Pez Pez

I had to make an account and everything, which I never do, but I had to comment. This is some of the insane drivel I have ever read in my life. You are clearly suffering from a psychiatric disorder. Whether it's a life-long thing or a psychotic break, I don't know because I'm not a doctor...point is I'm not joking or using hyperbole. You appear to have been convinced the treasure was both real and that you had determined where it was, before looking for it. Then when you didn't find it, you concluded you had found it. That's obviously a wrong way to look at things; didn't even realize it was possible to perceive things that way. Altered consciousness--symptom of drug use or mental disorder or both. At what point in time you decided the treasure was both imaginary and real is left out of your rant and another thing you could conceivably rant on about to support your delusion; it's also irrelevant, so save it. I almost literally laughed, as opposed to an obligatory lol, when I read "I have sided with him in court." Who did you side with him against? I thought court was the forum for an adversarial proceeding. Are there more than two parties in the case? Many people think he is lying. This isn't slander or defamation of any kind. If you thought he was lying about there being a treasure, your incredibly convoluted and nonsensical theory of the case would lose its so-called foundation. If you thought he was lying about there being a treasure, you couldn't think you really found an imaginary treasure. Since you think he's lying about the treasure not being imaginary, you are calling him a liar getting so upset about people thinking he's a liar is extremely disingenuous. It's hard to imagine a lawyer actually took your case. No one could possibly be willing to do this on contingency. You must have hired one hourly to help you shake the old guy down, or else you're doing it pro se. More likely have a lawyer to due to child support and drug issues, and are constantly wasting his time with get-rich-quick schemes, which he indulges from time-to-time when business is slow. Target is like 90 years old. Maybe you're just a petty criminal, which seems more likely than the absurdly delusional persona I am responding to. So over-the-top with compliments, trying to act like you're a staunch supporter of the guy you're trying to steal from. Still delusional to think any of this is a good con, but less so than to actually believe it yourself. This is a pretty good way to get yourself banned from the court system as a vexatious litigant.

Pez Pez

To clarify one of my statements, if Fenn loses the case, he has to pay $1.5 million. But if he wins, since you sided with him, he has to pay $2 million. LOL OMG you are delusional.

Brian Coombs

The treasure is physically there

Robert Everhart

You are waaay off. The drawing you cite doesn't lead to Colorado, but it does lead to a very specific site in another state. Why stir up trouble with a lawsuit? Just get out and enjoy yourself in the hunt. I don't know where the treasure is, but I do know I have hooked some very specific clues (that I have visited and are tangible). Even then, the search can lead you in multiple directions. Its not in Colorado.

Brian Erskine

Quick follow-up to summarize: The quest is proved solved by the find of the visual marker shown at The visual and thematic match between the epilogue drawing in the memoir and the outdoor photo facing 242° at the unique place where the poem directs the searcher (37.986555, -107.647828) is both visually clear and exhaustively documented. The poem is fully decoded; that's how taking the photo was possible. The proof is objective and irrefutable. In this sense, the quest is "over" as it's no longer a mystery, it's a completed puzzle, but if people want to keep questing for a box already shown to be unavailable for a self-validated find, I can't stop them. (Fenn can). All I can do is show that those efforts are futile with respect to that particular goal and ask that people choosing to persist in defiance of reality not drown, fall, or need rescue in the process, as several tragically have.

What Fenn does with the treasure he clearly retains, that he very wisely *never co-located* with the proven quest solution site, is his decision. All I did was (respectfully) prove the quest solved for its unique location; I didn't "take control." Subject to any decision the court might make, Fenn is in control; it's his quest and his legacy. I intervened to defend him. I have respectfully asked to meet him, and I do hope to influence him with plans for his legacy to be curated whole as a physical, artistic, and cultural treasure that will influence future generations in a place matching positive themes of his life and character, including for example aviation, service, Western art, and even a relationship between the Colorado and Arizona state mottos, as Fenn figured Colorado's ("Nothing without the will of the deity") into the quest and I worked Arizona's ("God enriches") into the solution by response to him. I'll be disappointed if Fenn decides he wants his legacy to be a forever mass-participation quest that he knows already to be proved solved, as that choice foreseeably would hurt misguided people after he is inevitably gone while totally wasting the literary and cultural potential of his work. Why would he do that? I respect Fenn and I hope, and believe, that my confidence in him is well-placed. I hope we can meet man-to-man, shaking hands as true Westerners. It would be a meeting where I'd surely do a lot of listening, and my plans would be strongly influenced by any suggestions or requirements he might state. But, we'll see what transpires and what he chooses to do.

JR Angell


I reviewed your solve. It has to be the worst one I’ve seen yet. You claimed you are the only one who understands this. Forrest Fenn did not create this specifically for You or your very unique way of thinking. You obviously spent a lot of time on this. Have you ever seriously considered the possibility that you are wrong?

Your solve is obscure and complicated. The correct solve, I imagine, will be quite a bit more simple and elegant. Mr. Fenn said in his own words not to mess with his poem and not to overthink it. You have overthought this.

I can’t get over the fact you don’t see your own contradiction. How can he be telling the truth about the treasure and be lying about it Not being in his vault.

He is either a liar or not.

If he is a liar then, sorry, there is no treasure.

Ifs he’s not a liar, then it is exactly where is says it is.

It is not a title transfer. It’s a box. Hidden in the Rocky Mountains.

If you’d just consider the possibility you’re wrong, you might have a chance at finding it.


Brian Erskine

JR, thank you for reviewing! I'm glad we agree that the solution is "simple and elegant." The overlay image is the solution to the quest (in visual form), it is the marker or box-of-gold substitute, so it seems like we're on the same page.

I'm sure Fenn has hidden his box of gold in the Rocky Mountains. He simply has not hidden it where the poem tells you, the searcher, to go, for obvious reasons of control.

You say "it is not a title transfer" even though... ...the last line of the poem... ...which you misidentified earlier, but I'll set that aside... ...says: "I give you title to the gold" - ? So are *you* "calling Fenn a liar?" :-)))))

Anyway, I'm not wrong, I solved the quest. But I'm sorry if you had trouble following the details of the solution.

JR Angell

You have mental problems and need professional help.

You didn’t solve the quest.

I said the correct solve will be simple & elegantly . Yours is not.

I’m not calling Fenn a liar. I believe he gives (present tense) title in the form of the poem. Not future tense (he will give) you moron.

You are calling Fenn a liar:

Either he isn’t a liar and the treasure is exactly, physically, where he says it is in the poem.

Or he is a liar and there is no treasure.

I will not reply anymore because it’s obvious you are delusional and convinced of your own omnipotence.

Brian Erskine

Most public treasure quests are solved with a marker giving a claim to the treasure, not with a direct find of the treasure, as that would be a reckless and irresponsible way to create a quest. (Do you think Fenn, clearly a brilliant man, would be dumb enough...)? Go to BBC and see "France's 25-year treasure hunt for a golden owl," which is actually a bronze. (France has a "Forrest Fenn;" his name was Max Valentin). But unlike Valentin's, Fenn's marker isn't a physical object, it's a virtual image - and it's the overlay I found, visible at Enjoy!

Brian Erskine

Hi everyone! Thanks for the comments. Supporting the single image visual proof are: a ~25-page written (illustrated, annotated) solution, a draft article, and other materials. Those are available at Based originally on Pam Shetron's blog, I quickly found the correct site using only the poem and a map, never going anywhere else, but it took years and half a dozen trips to the site, and a fair bit of not finding anything, for the visual proof to emerge. The man fits the tree, the bird fits the bush, the boulder fits the stump, the "45" indicates the angle (and more), and the whole fits the themes: for example, the stumps combined with the site topography match the Battle of Fallen Timbers near Toledo in 1794, the first victory of the Army and the Indian Wars ("how the West was won"). The epilogue drawing fits the photo because the center part of the drawing is under the letters "LOG" in "epilogue." That's the "log" Fenn said many times to look under; he didn't mean a dead tree in the woods. The edges of that drawing, the left and right thirds, were demonstrably Photoshopped in. Only the middle third was the original work of Polt.

The visual proof is the marker of solution, it's how you prove you solved the quest. The photo was taken where the poem tells you to go, as documented in the materials described above. Regardless of comments, the match between the photo and the drawing is immediately obvious. When Fenn said "Don't go anywhere an old man wouldn't go," he meant that the man in that drawing goes over that tree like a puzzle piece: that's where he "goes."

Fenn retains control of the gold, which is not co-located with the quest solution. The quest does require a mettle detector, though.

I wouldn't even have considered intervening in the case if the proof were not manifest, and have now submitted new filings swearing under oath that the quest is proved solved, with the above documentation as exhibits.

By the way, I didn't expect a wave of supportive comments. I pursued this quest in my spare time and was surprised when I discovered the visual proof *eight months after taking the photo.* For many people the quest is a more serious focus, and I expect many in the community of searchers to feel negatively that the quest is solved. But as police have cited, it's better honestly ended than dishonestly perpetuated: there is no reason for people to be injured, rescued, and killed looking for a box that Fenn has retained the whole time. The visual marker is what you find at the correct site, not a box.

More comments welcome!

Dave Fields

Honest question: I looked at the "independently verified visual proof" at and it just looks like a random picture of the outdoors + a random black and white drawing. I don't see any correlation between the two images. Nothing matches to me. I could just take a picture from the mars rover and add a picture of Eddie Murphy's face on top and it would make approximately the same amount of sense. Am I missing something? Again, honest question.

Brian Erskine

To answer your honest question, yes, you are missing something. The visual match between the epilogue drawing and the outdoor photo is direct and obvious unless willfully ignored. It even includes the number "45" written in the stars denoting the angle of the slope... ...though by the way, every 45th word of the poem is "walk down now," which is just what you do while standing in the tar-covered fire pit (!) from where you take that photo, in order to get a big tree out of your line of sight. Do you see the "45" to the right of the bird? Maybe you also don't, but it's there.

All the same, these kinds of comments are much what I expected - a bunch of people saying "I don't see anything, you randomly slapped random on random and so, you didn't solve it." Whether you see it or not, the visual relationship is there, there's copious documentation, it's filed in court, and yes, I did solve it.

Dave Fields

I looked at the images again. I DO see an approximated 45 in the stars, though I also see two large unsupported breasts as well, making me think, "maybe we shouldn't stretch to see constellations here." I can see where a stump aligns to the man's feet. I do see the 45 degree angle in the rock. I doN'T see: where any of the other stumps align, anything that symbolizes a bird or a moon or a nest, a body of water, or any of the stars aligning to markings/imperfections in the stone. That's a lot to not match, and a whole lot of credit given to one stump and a 45 degree angle (is it hard to find 45 degree angles in rocky terrains???). In any event, the statement that the match is "direct and obvious unless willfully ignored" is quite colossal.

If I was convinced the epilogue drawing was key--an oddly specific assumption but let's roll with it-- I probably wouldn't look for environmental devastation, which otherwise comes to mind when you see a field of stumps. The man cut the trees by hand, probably to build a "nest" for his family, similar to the bird. I'd look for a site representing the support that nature gives to both humans and wildlife. Maybe those 2 breasts are more meaningful constellations than the 45 after all.

Not that I care much, but if I was to help you, it would be to say this: a great interview question is "describe to me a time when you were wrong. Provide multiple examples: factual, strategic, moral, emotional." Of course I don't know you or your answer, but my best guess is your reply would involve your lack to see the shortcomings and stupidity of others (and that answer is a job disqualifier, btw). Again, I could be wrong... maybe you're a happily married father of three with a long track history of steady jobs and homes and no legal troubles, and you function with high EQ on daily basis, etc. I do hope my best guess is wrong.

Brian Erskine

Hi Dave,

Very well taken. Sorry about my part in any misunderstanding. Just so you know, yes, I'm an educated professional, participated in the quest as a hobby (learning about it while I was in Asia!), and produced the visual proof almost inadvertently, not by "sheer persistence" - it popped into my head one day at home based on that photo, which I'd taken on a previous site visit because I was struck by the beauty of the site and had also decided generally to do some photo documentation. I'm definitely not a "Fenn quest nutter" who crazily believes it to be his personal destiny (etc.) or any such nonsense. (Should I end up with any treasure, I'd feel a heavy responsibility to be a good custodian of the character legacy of the quest). I haven't even participated in any online quest-related discussions until December 2019. But searchers have died and the police have called for the quest to end; I wouldn't have intervened in the case without visual evidence but also couldn't imagine not intervening given those facts and given what I have. Just because people die, and even by avoidable danger, on a Fenn quest doesn't mean their lives are laughable; by contrast, the police are right and it's risky that the truth shouldn't come out, particularly before an inevitable day is reached when a solution no longer can be validated. I've also presented this solution in person to skeptical audiences, including police, professional curators, and senior self-made successes, and all are convinced that the solution is correct and that the visual proof is proof. So not that you said I did, but just so you know, I had all these documents prepared for a reason and didn't just throw them at a court case hoping they stuck and hoping I got a treasure out of it.

Re: your substantial comment, which I appreciate, let me take it point by point.

1. Yes, the stars read "45°"

2. Yes, the stump in the drawing and the rock align.

3. The man is wearing solid black boots suitable for wading, not the kind of boots you wear when you cut timber, because he's standing in a river when you overlay him into the photo scene. (I grew up in Oregon, and am uniquely suited to tell fishing boots from timber boots).

Your other observations are totally astute and I do answer all of your questions in the illustrated, annotated documentation at My website is basic, but clean and user-friendly. All those images and symbols do have integrated meaning that clearly makes sense. You're absolutely right to perceive that the should. Enjoy the materials. I hope you find my answers to be compelling and would appreciate your further feedback.



P. S. Generally speaking, the stumps connote the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers at Toledo, fought in a forested fen called the Great Black Swamp of the Maumee River, which was the first victory of the Army and of the Indian Wars or how the West was won; there are 23 stumps and a moon, and 23 lines of the poem before the 24th in which you are titled to gold, and U. S. 23 and U. S. 24 meet at the site of that battle with U. S. 24 running from Troy, Mich. to Pikes Peak, sacred to the Utes. None of that is a coincidence - even Troy is a reference to the Aeneid... ...see the materials. Enjoy

Brian Erskine

* typo: "that they should"

** 23 stumps in the ORIGINAL drawing in the Fenn memoir; I excerpted only the central portion for the overlay because the edges are demonstrably Photoshopped in... ...why would you copy/paste/add stumps to the edges just to get 23? ^^ I explained why in my comment. Pardon the edit.

Brian Erskine

Hi Dave,

I wanted to follow up with a bit better organized reply to the portion of your comment directly related to the quest. With regard to the overlay:

1. The 45° in the drawing pertains to the angle of the slope and the angle of the rocks in the cliff face behind. Also, every 45th word in the poem is "walk, down, now" (which is what you do at the site of the photo).

2. The stump in the drawing does fit over the rock in the photo.

3. The man in the drawing is wearing waterproof boots while timbering because the photo places him in the river. His ambiguous garb could be for timbering or fishing because, well, obv.

4. The white bird is a dove, and symbolizes

4.1. peace

4.2. Chief Ouray of the Utes, the Peacemaker, whose land this photo once was

4.3. His wife Chipeta, White Singing Bird

5. The little turtle behind the dove represents

5.1. Chief Little Turtle of the Miami, whose portrait hung in the original White House before the British burned it

5.2. war (Little Turtle's War, militarily ended in 1794 by the Battle of Fallen Timbers, where the Indians first lost their treasured land to the new American military)

6. peace and war face opposite directions, like the Great Seal of the United States and the seal of the Wyandot nation (Google these)

7. (there's much more; site topography matches the Fallen Timbers battlefield - that rock is Chief Turkey Foot's Rock, of the Ottawa; the tree represents Chief Tarhe of the Wyandot; the aerial crane we used in Vietnam to rescue downed pilots was the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe; etc. this is all in the evidence I sent to court).

I hope it's now clear to you that the graphical artistry and historic richness of the overlay and its meanings could fill several chapters of the book that eventually will be written about the quest. Evidence for the match is overwhelming, not "scant." (ha ha) I hope Fenn wants me to write that work, as the most valuable item in the chest is his autobiography, which makes the quest winner a writer: wow.

I do welcome further comments and questions. And yes, I'm a regular, well-adjusted person, stable and of character, humble and the kind you'd want to have a beer with. I'm somewhat quirky and intellectual, enough to solve this quest, but not too weird - for example, I got on well in a Middle American high school, etc.

Happy New Year


Brian Erskine

As for breasts, I don't know, I missed those but maybe you see more interesting things in images than I typically do. :-)

Christine Leonzal

lol I love your comment. p.s. i think the chest is hidden in the right nose hole of eddie murphy

JR Angell


Let’s hear Your solve... what are Your answers to the 9 clues in the poem? If you are right, you are clearly already on the record and have nothing to fear from some peer-review. Otherwise, and maybe nevertheless, you are just a sore loser.

You said: “In the last line of his poem, Fenn clearly states that the box of valuables is awarded by title transfer, not by outdoor find”

The last line sentence of the poem actually is:

“If you are brave and in the wood
 I give you title to the gold.”

Present tense with two conditions.

He has also admitted the use of a dictionary when he wrote the poem.

Did you use one?

I believe the poem is my title to the gold and not something You can or should try to sue anyone for.

Go Forrest Fenn! The treasure is real! I don’t particularly want him to call the treasure hunt off or have to retrieve the treasure just to prove to some chump that it is real.

Nobody owes You anything - You have clearly missed his message - *facepalm*

Most Annoyed,



I look forward to finding it or someone else finding it (just as long as it isn’t found where I currently think it is.. lol)

Brian Erskine

Go to for full documentation and details of the solve including the site. Its materials will answer your questions. The object of the quest, apart from having a good time, is not to find nine clues, it's to find a site.

Brian Erskine

Hi JR! I'm pleased that we agree that the treasure (the box of gold and valuables) is real, and that no one owes me anything.

But I must correct you: 1) The person who sued Fenn is named David Hanson, and I intervened in the case on Fenn's side or as defendant; 2) The last line of the poem is "I give you title to the gold," not anything longer than that. The poem has 6 stanzas and 24 lines, not 12 lines. That's because June 24 (6/24) is the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, which is how you can know the solution site is in the "San Juan" Mountains of Colorado.

Brian Erskine

The site found by correctly solving the quest, and the site where Fenn concealed the box mentioned in the article, are different sites. If one actually led to the other, Fenn wouldn't control the quest.

The site to which the poem leads can be proved correct, but not by finding the box. Only a work of conceptual visual art, matching a landscape to an illustration from Fenn's memoir, is found there.

Brian Erskine

Hi! I'm Brian, was interviewed for this article, and wish to thank the New Mexican and its journalists. If you have questions, ask.

Read Fenn's statement above. Note that Fenn didn't deny that I solved the quest. He denied that I have his box of valuables. He's right, and I never claimed to have that box.

I certainly did solve the quest, meaning that I would swear under oath with visual and other proof that I found the unique site indicated by Fenn's poem. Visual proof is by overlaying the *epilogue drawing from Fenn's memoir* onto *an outdoor photo of that site.* They match, forming a work of conceptual visual art as the "hidden treasure" available to the public. I asked the New Mexican to run the visual; unfortunately it was not run, but it is found at and in court filings.

That overlay is all the self-validation of completion the quest offers. Searching the indicated site never will lead to self-discovery of a physical box of valuables. Fenn was not dumb enough to abandon it. In the last line of his poem, Fenn clearly states that the box of valuables is awarded by title transfer, not by outdoor find.

To summarize, when you go where the poem tells you, you find only an outdoor scene clearly matching the epilogue illustration in Fenn's memoir, if you're observant enough to connect the two. In a metaphorical and publicly available sense, that's the "treasure."

I have already shared this information with authorities and others. As I can prove that I solved the quest, it is unfortunate that Fenn has not yet admitted it solved. Until he does, deaths, injuries, crimes, rescues, and wasted time by people who believe, wrongly, that *a box of valuables is to be found at the site indicated by the poem* are likely to continue, perhaps indefinitely.

Having solved the quest, I must have plans for the box of valuables, should it be awarded. Whether it will, is speculative.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.


Brian, I looked over your solve. I hate to tell you this but in my opinion you got it wrong. I have solved the Chase and am going out to get it this summer. The solvwe you have is close to something involved inthe chase. There is some validity to your solve, but it isn't the whole solve. Not by a longshot. What Forrest has done with this is far more involved and clever than most people realize. The "proof" I have for my solve dwarfs yours. I'm just letting you know. Be prepared to be madee a fool in court. You do not have it. I know this for sure. My solve explains why you didn't find it at your site. I already know about Ouray and thart entire area as it relates to the solve. You need to rethink your solve.

In addition, if you find the chest you say you are goong to give it to a museum? You know, there ae a lot of people who need that money and you're just going to give the Treasure away? Do what you want with it, but if I get it, yes I will donate money to save some lives, but I need to use the rest to survive for the rest of my life. If you're so financially secure already that you don't need the treasure then why are you looking for it? That's all. Good day.

JR Angell

Good Luck Matthew! I don’t think Brian solves it either.. an image overlay? Really? Try using and map and a dictionary. You can’t believe the treasure is real and at the same time believe Fenn is lying about everything else he has said on the topic.. what an idiot.

Brian Erskine

From your comment, the fact might have escaped you, but note that I intervened as defendant (to defend Fenn).

Brian Erskine

The "whole solve" is at The visual proof is by one image. I do not have the treasure, but I did solve the quest, because the quest is solved and proved by finding the marker (a virtual treasure), not the (real golden) treasure, which Fenn retains.

JR Angell

How does this feel? lol.

Brian Coombs

Well Mathew I guess the chase is on. I have solved this treasure and that is something you can bet on. See you at the finish line... maybe. I'll be there.. will yoy?

Brian Coombs

You are 100% wrong Brian Erskine and your overlay theory is wrong. The treasure is there and the directions are perfect if you did your homework. If you did your homework you would know this. You would have studied the man and realized the character and integrity along with the value of his words. This will end this year! In Spring! Just stay patient. They mine as well throw those lawsuits in the fire. Suing someone simply because you are wrong is laughable. The treasure is real.. its waiting where Forrest said and the way there can be found if you really tune in. That's about all I can tell you. Oh how I want to tell you all but I could really use this money and being that I figured it out I believe I deserve it. I live in the appalachians. Maybe I could share some and hide it again somewhere there. I think that would be really cool. I just need enough to get by.. no one really needs that much money.

Carolyn DM

LMAO!! And the crazy gets more and more entertaining the longer this elusive BS continues!!

Brian Erskine

It certainly is off the wall. The quest requires a sense of humor, and proportion, art, and aesthetics (like Fenn). I remember thinking, not long before putting my tools down, wading the nearly dry Uncompahgre River (in August), accessing some riverbanks, and taking a whole bunch of photos, one of which was key: "You know, I'm a middle-aged man with a metal detector trapped in a thicket in a remote box canyon because some poem said I was going to find gold here. What am I doing?" I've had many a well-earned chuckle in my own direction while pursuing this quest, which was a spare-time activity. I also got to explore an amazing region too few Americans see, the San Juans of Colorado. I'm respectful and grateful to Fenn. But, this is for real: somewhat unexpectedly, I did solve it and did prove it. I found the marker, and the mystery is over.

John Tallent

To the man who claims he has found it....PROVE IT BY GOING PUBLIC WITH THE BOX!!!


Brian Erskine

Hi John. The article is easily misunderstood. I don't have the box and never claimed too. I do have visual proof of the correct site in the form of a work of conceptual art clearly linked to Fenn's memoir and statements about "looking under a log." It's visible at and it's also my avatar here.

Brian Erskine

^^ *to... typing too fast

Dale Martin


From your own website, "Fenn is a man of service, creativity, and intellect, whom I respect and admire." If filing a lawsuit against him is your way of showing respect and admiration, you really need some psychological help.

Brian Coombs

Which man are you referring too?

JR Angell

Brian Coombs,

Agreed that it is in Montana. My solve is also there. I am confident too but not as boastfully so.

My doubts lie in how the logistics of his treasure stashing, what he has said about it, line up with a cache so far away from his home.

So not poem-related doubts.

I agree on the “key word,” but, for now only so much as one word is both intentionally deceitful and directive/descriptive and its correct interpretation is “key” to finding it.

I wonder if this resonates with you or not?

Good luck out there. I hope you don’t find it lol jk bnr

Adam Weiss's not in Montana, Forrest called off the search there.

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