For a decade, it waited. The bronze treasure chest filled with gold coins, nuggets, and other precious items was said to be somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, but its exact location was a mystery. A cryptic poem penned by the man who hid the treasure hinted that it might be in a canyon or in a creek, or under a “blaze.”
Treasure hunters, armed only with the poem and their determination, spent years searching for it. Some spent thousands of dollars on the search; a few even died in the process. Some, bitter with frustration, accused the man who launched the treasure hunt of orchestrating an elaborate hoax.
In the end, the Fenn Treasure proved to be real and truly hidden at the end of the trail mapped out in the poem. And while the location where the treasure was found in 2020 may never be revealed, most of the contents of the chest are now being offered to the public through a special Heritage Auctions sale. Bidding is open for the sale, which concludes December 12, 2022.
Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) is honored to have certified the coins from the famed Forrest Fenn Treasure. Heritage is offering 209 gold U.S. coins, nearly all of them Half Eagles, Eagles, and Double Eagles, as well as 54 world coins.
One of the top highlights is a 1910-D Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle graded NGC MS-64 (lot 93073). The coin, which was designed by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, is widely considered to be the most beautiful coin ever minted in the U.S.
Another of the coins included in the treasure was an 1891-CC Half Eagle, which is graded NGC AU-50 (lot 93138). It is the sole example in the auction of coinage from the famous Carson City mint, which operated in the late 1800s during a silver mining boom in Nevada.
The treasure also includes a Mexico 1944 gold 50-pesos graded NGC MS-63 (lot 93182). Containing over an ounce of gold, it is one of 40 Mexican coins in the sale. Coins from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Great Britain, and Russia round out the world selections, all dating from the late 19th century or later.
NGC authenticated, graded, and encapsulated these coins with a customized label identifying them as having come from Fenn’s Treasure Chest. NGC also encapsulated 49 lots of gold dust (each weighing 3 grams), 61 lots of gold flakes (each weighing 1.5 grams), and 41 gold nuggets weighing as much as 4.06 grams (lot 93103).
The search for the Fenn Treasure began in 2010 when art dealer Forrest Fenn revealed he had hidden a chest containing a treasure estimated to be worth at least $1 million. Fenn, who had been diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer in 1988, said the treasure could be found at a special site that he considered for his final resting place.
Jack Stuef, a medical student in his 30s, is the man who found the treasure. Initially, Stuef kept his identity a secret, hoping to avoid any unsavory interactions with fellow treasure hunters who resented his find. However, as lawsuits related to the treasure began appearing, Stuef knew he would not be able to stay anonymous forever. Stuef revealed his identity and some details of his hunt in an article published in Outside magazine in December 2020.
Fenn died at the age of 90 in September 2020, shortly after the treasure was found.
Press release courtesy of the Numismatic Guaranty Company