The strange lawsuit names the person who actually found the treasure as a defendant alongside Fenn, the latter of whom is accused of keeping its contents for himself.
A French treasure hunter has filed a lawsuit against the estate of Forrest Fenn, the late writer who attained worldwide notoriety after claiming to have buried a gold-filled treasure chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.
In his complaint, though, Bruno Raphoz claims that he solved a riddle left behind by Fenn—a riddle that would have led him to the treasure chest, if Fenn had not allegedly switched its location.
Now, Raphoz is suing Fenn’s estate for $10 million.
In his lawsuit, Raphoz says he read Fenn’s autobiography, entitled The Thrill of the Chase. The book included a poem, which contained clues as to where the treasure might be found.
Raphoz says that he solved the poem’s riddle and determined that the chest was in southwest Colorado. He then wrote to Fenn, informing him that he was on his way to retrieve the gold.
However, Raphoz was prevented from traveling to Colorado after the coronavirus pandemic closed borders around the world.
Shortly afterward, Fenn announced that the treasure had been found by someone else.
“It appeared suspicious to everyone,” Raphoz wrote in his lawsuit. “Our assumption is that Fenn went to retrieve the chest himself, declared it found publicly and kept the content for himself.”
Fenn, adds the Las Cruces Sun News, passed away in September, aged 90.
Interestingly, though, the person who did find Fenn’s treasure chest has long since been identified as medical student Jack Steuf—and it appears that Rapahoz is accusing the young medical student of having somehow collaborated with Fenn.
Ironically, CNN recalls that Steuf wanted to keep his identity secret, since he was afraid that people who felt entitled to the treasure might seek to harm him or his family.
“For the past six months, I have remained anonymous, not because I have anything to hide, but because Forrest and his family endured stalkers, death threats, home invasions, frivolous lawsuits, and a potential kidnapping—all at the hands of people with delusions related to his treasure,” Steuf wrote in a blog post, published a half-year after his discovery. “I don’t want those things to happen to me and my family.”
However, Steuf’s name was revealed after a woman filed a lawsuit against the Fenn estate, claiming whoever had found the treasure did so after “hacking” her texts and email accounts.
While Raphoz has not made any similar accusations, Steuf is listed as a defendant in the suit—suggesting that Raphoz believes the medical student’s discovery was not as straightforward as Fenn said.
His lawsuit, notes the Sun News, names as defendants the Fenn estate, Steuf, Fenn’s grandson, and journalist Daniel Barbarisi, who released a book detailing the search for Fenn’s treasure.