An estimated 350,000 people searched for the treasure hidden in 2010 by Forrest Fenn, with at least five dying in the attempt. Three months after Fenn announced someone had finally found the $2 million cache of gold, jewels, artifacts, and other valuables, the New Mexico art dealer is dead. Fenn, 90, died at his Santa Fe home, apparently of natural causes, his grandson confirms to the New York Times. Fenn offered clues to the treasure's location in a 24-verse poem included in his memoir The Thrill of the Chase, but never revealed the specific location, even after the treasure was reportedly found—which led to quite a bit of consternation, and even lawsuits.
But friends and fans insist Fenn was not perpetrating a hoax or a dangerous stunt. "He loved families and he loved the idea of getting them out in the mountains and the open air, and his great joy was talking to the families that were seeking the treasure," says one friend who calls Fenn a mentor. The Times has more on Fenn's life, including a childhood spent fishing around Yellowstone National Park and searching for arrowheads before he joined the Air Force and flew in the Vietnam War. His art gallery later attracted quite a few VIP patrons. As for the aforementioned controversy, Westword has more on that, and the reaction to Fenn's death coming three months later. (Read more Forrest Fenn treasure stories.)