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Finder of Famed Treasure Is Revealed

Jack Stuef, 32, comes forward about finding Forrest Fenn's loot
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2020 6:37 AM CST

(Newser) – The identity of the man who ended one of the most famous treasure hunts in history in June has finally been revealed. Jack Stuef, 32, has come forward as the person who found Forrest Fenn's buried loot in an interview with Outside Online. Fenn himself died in September, but his grandson has confirmed that Stuef found the chest, believed to have more than $1 million worth of coins, gold, and other items, per the AP. Stuef, however, is not revealing exactly where in Wyoming he found the chest (he's afraid the site will be mobbed by visitors) or exactly how he deciphered Fenn's clues. He says he came forward to Daniel Barbarisi of Outside, who is writing a book about the hunt, only because he's about to be named in a lawsuit from one of the failed hunters. (In a new post at Medium, Stuef calls the suit an "abuse of the court system.") More:

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  • Obsession: "I think I got a little embarrassed by how obsessed I was with it,” Stuef tells the magazine. “If I didn’t find it, I would look kind of like an idiot. And maybe I didn’t want to admit to myself what a hold it had on me.”
  • The key: “I don’t want to ruin this treasure hunt by saying it was made for an English major, but it’s based on a close read of a text,” says Stuef, who hasn't sold the chest yet or even had it appraised. “I mean, that’s what it is. It’s having the correct interpretation of a poem. (Fenn left a poem with a trail of clues.) I understood him by reading his words, and listening to him talk over and over and over and over again. And seeking out anything I could get my hands on that told me who he was.”
  • Video: Stuef posted this YouTube video in 2019 discussing the hunt.
  • Past controversy: Stuef gained some infamy in online journalism about a decade ago, notes Washingtonian. In 2011, he wrote a post for Wonkette about Sarah Palin's son Trig, who has Down syndrome, which was widely condemned as cruel. The next year he had controversy at BuzzFeed over his post about an editorial cartoonist. Stuef left journalism for med school and says the treasure will pay his school loans, though he doesn't plan to pursue a career as a doctor.
(Read more Forrest Fenn treasure stories.)

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