An antiquities dealer who inspired tens of thousands to search the Rocky Mountains for $2 million in hidden treasure now leads an increasingly desperate mission to find one of his fans, the AP reports. Forrest Fenn has been flying out in chartered helicopters or planes, searching remote stretches of the upper Rio Grande for any sign of Randy Bilyeu, now missing in the wild for more than three frigid weeks. Fellow treasure hunters also are searching for Bilyeu, who was last seen on Jan. 5 while trying to solve Fenn's mystery. Fenn, an eccentric 85-year-old from New Mexico, has inspired a cult following since his announcement several years ago that he stashed a small bronze chest containing nearly $2 million in of gold, jewelry, and artifacts somewhere in the Rockies.
The hidden treasure has inspired thousands to search in vain through remote corners of New Mexico, Yellowstone National Park, and elsewhere in the mountains. The mystery has been featured by national media, igniting even more interest. But the search can be risky: Some have forded swollen creeks in Yellowstone and were rescued by rangers. A Texas woman spent a worrisome night in the New Mexico woods after being caught in the dark. No "Fenner" has been in a more dangerous a predicament than Bilyeu, a 54-year-old grandfather. Family and friends say he bought a raft and set out on Jan. 5 after scouting for two weeks along the river west of Santa Fe. He had a GPS device, a wetsuit and waders, and brought along his little white dog, Leo. His raft and dog were found Jan. 15 with no sign of him. Read the full story here. (Read more treasure stories.)