For a guy who stashed a treasure chest full of gold and jewels believed to be worth around $2 million and gave cryptic clues to its location, Forrest Fenn sounds almost surprised by the level of public interest. The treasure hunt is "out of control," the 84-year-old author and retired art dealer tells KOAT, predicting that 50,000 people from all over the world will join the hunt this summer. Fenn, whose clues were presented in a poem, says he buried the treasure five years ago and nobody has found it yet, although a few have come as close as 200 feet from the spot, which he says is wet and is higher than 5,000 feet above sea level. Most of the searchers have been looking in New Mexico—where the state tourist board calls the search "the gift that keeps on giving," per KRQE—but Fenn says people are also looking in Montana and Wyoming.
What they're precisely hunting for: a 10-inch-by-10-inch box that Fenn says holds 265 gold coins (including American eagles and double eagles) and gold nuggets, plus "lots of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds and other things." The former fighter pilot says he came up with the idea after he was diagnosed with what was thought to be terminal cancer back in 1988, ABC News reports, and for him, the hunt's goal has already been achieved. "I wanted the monetary value to be a consideration for those who are looking for it, but mostly my motive was to get kids off the couch and away from their texting machines and out in the mountains," he tells KOAT. "I would love if somebody found it tomorrow. But if nobody found it for 100 years, that's OK with me, too." (One searcher had to be rescued from below-freezing temperatures in the mountains.)