|And last Q) At Fennboree, you were asking spallies about the aged silver and turquoise bracelet she wore, which has a turquoise butterfly, offset atop the original, silver, bezel shape. (If you answer I hope spallies will provide a picture! ) You mentioned a very interesting fact about that particular turquoise, and how the oils of human skin had changed its hue from wearing it very close. I recall most of what you had said, but some was lost in the background noise. Could you please provide the name of that particular type of turquoise, and tell us again how it emerged as the butterfly spallies wore? I know it’s a lot, but I really don’t ask much! :). Thanks so much, Forrest!||It was Cerrillos turquoise JD and I sincerely hope I didn’t say that it “emerged as a butterfly.” (I was not drinking). Turquoise from the Cerrillos mines, particularly the Tiffany mine, can be chalky and undesirable when mined. But when it is worn over long periods and absorbs oil from the skin it may turn a beautiful grass green, and be the best of all. f|
|N/A - Consolidated quotes appearing throughout the article.||Here’s a long forgotten photo that I discovered in an old laptop. It shows the treasure chest at a time when I was still deciding what it should contain. The two round objects in the center are 300 year-old gold and silver hunting case minute repeater watches. They came out, as did the large gems. The gold coins and nuggets were removed from their plastic containers and are now residing in the chest beside the little jar that contains my autobiography. Months later, when the chest was almost full, I added two 5-inch round Pre-Columbian gold mirrors, the Tairona fetish necklace, and my revered turquoise row bracelet. Then I closed the lid, and that was that. Now the treasure is hidden in the mountains, patiently waiting…f|
|I have a couple of suggestions for your final hour: 1) I would make you a similar offer like Olga requested of you – I would drive you in my vehicle – wait for a specified period of time (as determined by you) – and then drive back home. Or 2) You can put the title of your vehicle in my name, make sure you don’t leave anything personal in it at your final resting place, wipe down any fingerprints, then, when it is found it will be in my name, have my address etc. (be sure to send me photos of it)—people would swear that it was your vehicle because they had seen you driving it, but, with it being in my name I don’t think they would think twice about it. And, NO I don’t need another vehicle I have six (6) already in the family. I would sell the vehicle for you and make an anonymous donation to a Non-Profit organization of your choice. 3) Also, I could suggest Parachuting—that would take you back in time, however, I feel you would be too old (sorry) to make it safe to your final resting spot after that endeavor. I wouldn’t want you to commit suicide like your father but, I understand. You could draw-up a contract for us to sign stating that I couldn’t claim the Treasure. Doing it yourself would ensure that no one other than you and I would know the plan. Just a thought, I know you don’t know me or I you, I just feel a connection with you somehow. Maybe it’s just the long forgotten memories of my youth. Then again, you may want to choose a closer friend or not. Just think about it. No rush! I’ll go on with the remainder of my day either way.||I am a very simple person and you want me to have copious meetings with lawyers, preachers, undertakers and your family. What is wrong with me just riding my bike out there and throwing it in the “water high” when I am through with it? You don’t know how many man hours I have spent on that subject. Thanks for the input but I think you should mobilize your club and hit the trail searching for the wondrous treasure. Besides, I’ll probably get hit by a train. When you find the treasure please come sell me the great turquoise and silver bracelet that is in the chest. I wish now that I had kept it. f|
|Why do you want the bracelet back? New Mexico Searcher||Dear Anon New Mexico Searcher. I’m not going to tell you my name either.
I am intrigued by the bracelet’s history as I revealed in my book, The Thrill of the Chase. Many years ago one of the small prehistoric turquoise beads fell out of the bracelet. The Indian silversmith who repaired it for me buffed the 22 beads that were aligned in a row across the breadth of the bracelet. It turned a beautiful antique object into something new looking. At first I was upset, but then I realized that we each view life from a different perspective. The Indian wanted to give the bracelet back to me as he thought it looked when new, so that was ok with me. f
|9054||11/2/2013||Moby Dickens Bookshop, Taos, NM|
|Link: Click Here
The following is a transcription of the video referenced above. Questions and comments from the audience are presented in italics. Time stamps are offered when Forrest takes a question, and at other useful places during the video.
Well I always thought I deserved a throne. I’m very glad to be here. I want to thank Jay and Carolyn and Dorothy for bringing me up here. Jay asked me to say a few things about my treasure story. Is there anyone here that knows about the story? Who in this room has not heard about my treasure story? Oh that’s pretty good.
Well, uh, in 1988 I had cancer and they told me I was going to die. That’s a good way to start off a talk. They gave me a one in five chance of living three years. And, a lot of things were happening about that time. I was selling my gallery in Santa Fe, and I had a lot of clients that were coming to see me to do different things, and it just so happened that Ralph Lauren came to my house. He collects antique Indian things like I did. He didn’t know that I had cancer. But we were standing in my library and I had something that he wanted. It was a beautiful Sioux Indian bonnet with white ermines skins hanging on it, and split antelope horns, and it was a wonderful thing and he wanted to buy it. And I said I don’t want to sell it. He said you have so many of those things and you can’t take it with you. I said, well then I’m not going. And we laughed and changed the subject.
That night I started thinking about that. Who says I can’t take it with me? Why do I have to live by everybody else’s rules? If I’m going to die of cancer, I’m going to take some stuff with me, and I made up my mind. So I bought this beautiful little treasure chest: 10 inches by 10 inches and 6 inches high. Wonderful Romanesque thing. An antique scholar told me that it was probably Romanesque, 11th or 12th Century. Maybe it held a bible or a Book of Days. But it was wonderful; had a great patina on it. And I started filling it up with things that I thought would be attractive. There are 265 gold coins - American, mostly eagles and double eagles. There’s some Middle Eastern gold coins that date from the 13th century. There’s a little bottle of gold dust in there. And there are hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets, mostly from Alaska - placer nuggets. Two of them are so large that they are the same size as a hen’s egg. They weigh more than a pound apiece.
And there are, in this chest… I put hundreds of rubies. There are two beautiful Ceylon sapphires. There are eight emeralds. Lots of little diamonds. Pre-Columbian Wak’as. Uhh, 2,000 year old bracelets, and a Tayrona (Tyrona) and Sinu necklace that dates probably 2,500 years old. The fetishes on the necklace are made of quartz crystal and carnelian and semi-precious stones. I told myself that I wanted it to be visual enough so that when a person found the treasure chest, and opened it for the first time, they would just lean back and start laughing.
And, I’ve shown the chest to a number of people in Santa Fe and that’s what they all did. So I invite you to go look for the treasure chest. And, my plan was to, uhh...If I was going to die of cancer, uh, they said I had a one in five chance of living three years, so that told me I had a year probably, anyway. So, uhh, I decided I knew where I was going to hide the treasure chest. And I told myself that with my last gasping breath, I was going to fling myself on top of that treasure chest and let my bones go back to the dirt. It was a great plan. The trouble with it was, I got well. And it ruined the story. But I told myself, just because I got well, doesn’t mean I could not hide the treasure chest anyway. And I did that and there's… In my book, The Thrill of The Chase, there’s a poem in there that has nine clues in it. If you can follow the clues to the treasure chest, you can have the treasure chest. (Pause). And, uh, I thought about that a lot. And when I took, when I hid the treasure chest, I had to make two trips because it weighs 42 pounds. It’s small, but it’s...gold is heavy. And when I hid it and was walking back to my car, I started laughing out loud, and I said, “Forrest Fenn did you really do that?”
But I had a hole card, I told myself if I decide later I didn’t want to do it, I could go back and get it. But the more I thought about it, the more I said, yeah, this is perfect. Why can’t I influence somebody a thousand years from now? A hundred years from now? Okay, next weekend. If you can find it, I think it will be worth your while. A lady reporter from Texas called me on the phone and she said, “Mr. Fenn, who is your audience for this strange book?” I said, “My audience is every redneck in Texas with a pickup truck, a wife and twelve kids and he lost his job.” I said, “Throw a bedroll in the back of your truck and go look for the treasure chest - take the kids. Get the kids out of the game room. Away from their little playing machines and let them breathe the sunshine and the things the forest has to offer - a wonderful opportunity.
Just this past week, I passed 25,000 emails from people, and probably 15,000 of them have told me, “Mr. Fenn, we are not going to find that chest - we know that. But I want to thank you for getting me and my kids off the couch and out into the trees.” So, uh, you know I would go on and on but I don’t want to talk too much I would entertain some questions if anyone has one. (Pause). Yes sir.
(off-microphone question about proceeds of book)
You know, I’m having trouble hearing him. Can somebody help? What?
Did I understand that the proceeds of your book are going to the cancer, uh, foundation?
Let me explain that to you. Uh, Dorothy Massey at the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe owns these books. Jay bought them from Dorothy. The deal I made with Dorothy was that she can have the books, but she has to put 10% of the gross sales aside for a cancer fund. I think we have about $50,000 or something in that fund now. We’re looking, we’re looking for someone to… that we can feel proud about helping. Uh, if I had my way, we’d find some little minority kid that can’t afford what it takes to get well and spend our money that way. And, uh, I don't’ know if that’ll happen or not, but that’s the plan anyway. Is there another question?
I have one about the poem. If you follow the poem precisely, will you find yourself switching back?
If I follow the clues in the poem precisely, would I what?
Will you find yourself switching back? Making a loop.
This gal’s dangerous, you know! (pause) Would I find myself switching back… I think I can say no to that without giving away too much of the clues. Uh, nobody is gonna happen on that treasure chest. You’re gonna have to figure out the clues in the poem, and go to it. There are several people that have deciphered the first two clues. I don’t think they knew it, because they walked right on past the treasure chest. And I’m not gonna tell those people who they are because one of them particularly would faint, I know. And she’d tear the countryside up trying to figure out where they’d been. But, uh, it’s an opportunity to… has… doesn’t have any downsides I think. Everybody wins if you go out looking for it. Another question?
Given that you simply gave, gave it away, you, you gave this treasure away to the cosmos, to whomever, uh, did you have any heart wish of how treasure might be used for good?
Bless you. (laughter)
I don’t feel, I don’t feel that I’ve given it away. Whoever finds it is gonna earn it. And once they find it, and have it in their possession I’m out of the picture. They can do whatever they want to with it. You can’t… I don’t want to make rules for people after the fact. Yes sir?
How would you know that it hasn’t already been found?
I’ve been asked that question a lot… I really don’t want to answer the question because that would be an answer that I don’t really want to reveal. But I can tell you that no one has found the treasure. Yes sir?
When do you think the treasure would be found? Do you think it’s a ten year? A hundred year? When do you think it will actually be discovered?
You know, uh… Why don’t you ask me how deep is a hole? (Laughter) It’s not predictable. But I know, I think, this last summer, there were, I’m guessing, but I think there were 35,000 people out looking for the treasure chest.
Are you concerned that once it is discovered that your private spot will be exposed to so many people, that it will no longer become special? Or…
There’s all kinds of case scenarios. If a, if a person finds it, and he doesn’t want the IRS to know it, then maybe the spot will never be revealed. (Laughter) In my opinion, the type of person that’s gonna find the treasure chest is the type of person that can’t keep it quiet. Uh, but, I’m not worried about that really. Yes ma’am?
You said that it took you two trips to hide the treasure? Did you hide it two times, or did you carry it the second time?
I hid the whole thing in one spot. But it took me two trips to get to that spot with the weight of those… of the treasure chest.
From the car to the spot?
(Forrest nods). Very special spot.
Could you tell us more about what’s in your book? Like, it’s not just a poem, but it’s a memoir right?
It’s a memoir. You know, uh, I never did go to college. I prayed for D’s in high school and nobody ever listened. I graduated because my father was the principal. (Laughter). And so, I never did read the great books. And I talk in my book about Hemingway and, and other writers that are very internationally celebrated and so I went down to a bookstore and got a couple of those books and I started to read them and I told myself these things are no good. For Whom The Bell Tolls - I read about a third of that thing and threw it in the trash. And I started to wonder… Why does everyone… I mean, you may think those are wonderful books, but I’m a little bit weird I have to admit that.
But then Pierre, err, J.D. Salinger died. And Diane Sawyer’s talking about how wonderful he was that he wrote books and put them in a vault so nobody could see them. And I told myself - this is my kind of guy. So, so I went down and I bought Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Uh. And I thought I was gonna like that book because I had never heard of the guy. And I said, everybody thinks the book’s pretty good and he’s nobody so, it must be a pretty good book. So I started reading it and, and I read a little bit and I put it down. And I started thinking about it, and I read some more. It took me about a day and a half to finish that book, and I wasn’t ready for it to end when it was over. I started to tell myself, uh, you know if this is a good book, if Catcher in the Rye is a good book, I can do that. (pause) It’s nothing but a guy talking to himself really is what it is. And I said, I can do that. And so, I started writing my memoir. I started remembering, and I would encourage all of you to write your memoir. You don’t have to edit it. Send it to the Library of Congress - they love those things. Start with your earliest recollections like I did. I remember when my grandmother told me about when she was a kid in Fort Worth watching the Comanche and Kaweah Indians run through their barnyard trying to catch chickens.
I have two daughters that are in their fifties who don’t know who Clark Gable was. So I wanted my kids, my family, my grandkids, to know something about my family. Something about me, and my wife, and what we’ve done, and where we’ve been. Kind of a peek back into our lives, and so that’s… And at the same time, I was thinking about my treasure chest. How do I bring all of these things together?
So it was 15 years from the time that I got cancer until the time that I hid the treasure chest. 15 years. And… The poem in my book, is something that I changed over and over again. When you read the poem, it looks like just simple words there. But I guarantee you I worked on that thing… I felt like an architect drawing that poem. And the original version of that poem said, “Take the treasure chest, but leave my bones and go in peace.” Or, something like that. But then I got well, and it ruined that story.
But, uh, I believe very strongly in that uh… I started making bells out of bronze and little jars. In the jars I put my autobiography in the jars and seal them up tight. And I’ve buried eight of those things way out in the desert, and in the mountains. Nobody knows where. I couldn't even go back to them; I’ve hidden them so well. Who says I can’t influence the future? Who says I can’t take it with me? I don’t believe in those things. Which is, which is best, uh, laying on the ground, on a treasure chest, your bones rotting in the sun? Or laying in a hospital room with tubes down your throat and your nose and machines everywhere, people watching you all the time. Which would you rather have? That’s my philosophy. But I’ll admit, I’m a maverick in that area.
My father had pancreas cancer. They gave him six months to live. Eighteen months later he was still fishing up in Yellowstone in those lakes and fast streams. But one night, at about ten o’clock at night, he said call me on the phone. I was in Santa Fe and he was in Temple, Texas. He said, “Forrest, I just want you to know that I’m getting ready to take 50 sleeping pills.” And I said, “Dad, I’ll be there first thing in the morning.” I had an airplane. He said, “That’s too late.” And it was too late. But I respected him, because he wanted to do things on his own terms. What’s wrong with making your own rules about things? He could have gone into the hospital and withered away for another three weeks or a month. That’s no way to live. And all of these thoughts manifest themselves in my treasure chest. The thrill of the chase - I keep going back to the thrill of the chase. And you can think I’m crazy if you want to, and a lot of people have said that but, it’s something that I believe in. And that treasure chest, I have said, is in a very special place to me. If I get another disease, on my last dying gasp, I’m going to throw myself on top of that treasure chest. And I’m going to dare you to come find me.
Bella, do you have a question?
Uh, Mr. Fenn, we actually have one that was sent to us. And since you were speaking about the poem, uh, Dal Neitzel has asked if you would kindly read the poem? Of which, I happen to have a copy of said poem.
Damn Dal Neitzel’s always getting me in trouble. (Laughter)
I’m just the messenger.
He thinks he's safe ‘cause he lives on a little island, Lummi Island, out of Seattle. I’ve got his number though.
(address crowd from memory)
As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold
I can keep my secret where
And hint of riches new and old
Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.
From there it’s no place for the meek
The end is ever drawing nigh.
There’ll be no paddle up your creek
Just heavy loads and water high.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze
Look quickly down your quest to cease
But tarry scant with marvel gaze
Just take the chest and go in peace.
So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.
So hear me all and listen good.
(Pause, reaches for glasses) I might have to read this thing
So hear me all and listen good.
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.
And I view that as a challenge. There are so many things in life that are wonderful. And so many things that are not wonderful. And this world is in trouble; I don’t need to tell you that. So, I think we need to… My father used to tell me, “Grab every banana.” And, he told me that a hundred times. Finally, he and I collected arrowheads together. And we were thinking about going out to a friend’s farm that was newly plowed to look for arrowheads, but it was drizzling rain. I didn’t much want to go, but my father did. So, we were discussing and he said, “Grab every banana.” I said, “Father, you’ve been telling me that for years.” I said, “I don’t know what you mean.” You know what he said to me? He said, “Now that you asked the question, maybe you’re old enough to know.” Pretty profound, huh? He said, “The banana tree doesn’t go by… The banana… The train doesn’t go by that banana tree but one time.” He said, “You should reach out and grab every banana on the way back.” I thought that was pretty good. And let me tell you I’ve grabbed a few bananas in my time. Grabbed a few lemons, too. Yes, sir?
Are you familiar with the Poet, Robert Service?
The Poet, Robert Service
You’d give him a run for his money.
Well, thank you. Thank you. Well, I like poetry, and I can walk down the street and see something and I quote poetry to myself. I did that coming up here today in the car with Dorothy Massey. I’ll read you a poem from Alice in Wonderland.
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shiny tail
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every shiny scale
How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spread his claws
And welcome little fishies in
With gently smiling jaws
(Laughter). I like that. You may not know who Senator Al Simpson is. Senator from Wyoming, retired. He can quote the entire book from Alice in Wonderland. Yes, sir?
Would you want to say anything about the accumulation of that treasure and why you’re...
Jay - you got that?
So, he’s wanting to know on the accumulation of what you put in the chest, were they personal type items? How hard was it for you to put some of those items in there? How did you determine what you placed in the chest?
Thank you for asking that question, Sir. I wanted that treasure chest to be part of me. If I’m gonna take it with me, I don’t want it to be a bunch of abstract items. I put things in that treasure chest that are very dear to me. One of them, probably the cheapest thing in that treasure chest, is a wonderful little bracelet. It has 22 prehistoric turquoise beads in it. The beads were found by Richard Weatherall. The first day that he discovered Mesa Verde and climbed down into the ruin from the canyon top, he picked up those 22 little turquoise beads. In 1901, when Richard Weatherall was excavating Mesa Verde, there was an Indian working for him that made a bracelet out of those 22 little turquoise, disc beads, they call it a row bracelet. It was made about 1902 or so. And, Richard Weatherall sold it to Fred Harvey of the Harvey Houses. And years later, that whole Harvey collection was given to the Hurt Museum in Phoenix. But I won that bracelet in a pool game with Byron Harvey, who was the nephew of Fred Harvey. That’s how I got that bracelet. So I have an association with… It’s the only bracelet, Indian bracelet, that I ever had that fit me. I used, I used to walk down the street showing off that bracelet worth about $350. But, you know, it was special to me.
Have your grandkids ever tried looking for the treasure?
No, but I’ll tell you an interesting story. Some of the emails I get from people - I got one last week from a lady about your age. You must be 11? Nine. Nine. She said, “Mr. Fenn, if I find the treasure chest, do I have to share it with my brother?” (Laughter). So I get all kinds of emails. This one lady said, “My truck is not very reliable. If I go up in the mountains, on the way to get your treasure chest, and my truck breaks down, will you come and pick me up and take me the rest of the way to the treasure?”
Do you think kids will ever find the treasure?
Do I think kids will find the treasure? You worry me a little bit. (Laughter). Uh, yeah, I think kids may have an advantage. Don’t expect me to explain that, but sure. Their eyes are better. They’re more agile, they have more energy, why should a kid take a back seat in the treasure hunt?
Is that your daughter there?
She’s dangerous. Ok - more questions. Yes, Sir.
You put a lot of people on a very bold, exciting adventure. And at the same time, you have put yourself on an adventure of watching all of these people, and how are you enjoying that?
Oh tell me not, in mournful numbers Life is but an empty dream For the soul is dead that slumbers And things are never what they seem
I’m enjoying it, yeah. I didn’t expect it...You know, I always figured the treasure chest was a bomb, but I didn’t know that it had a fuse until Dorothy came along. And a couple of other people that started giving publicity to the book. And now it’s out... And no matter what happens now, it belongs to the ages, I think. And sure there’s a… people talk about, “Mr. Fenn is that your legacy?” I don’t, I don’t like that. I don’t like the philosophy of that. I don’t like the word… Once a person dies, that should be the end of it. If you want to say something kind about me, say it to me while I’m alive, don’t wait till I die. And let’s don’t talk about legacies. Yes, sir?
So, when you had cancer, uh, and you got well, and you decided to hide the treasure, do you think that maybe fate, maybe you got well so you would hide the treasure?
Uh, I believe that there’s a higher hand, someplace. I don’t know what it is, but, uh, I think that I’ve lived a charmed life. Uh, here’s a little kid from a small town in Texas making D’s and F’s in high school. Joined the Air Force as a pilot, err private, became a fighter pilot, uh… In 19… When I was 27 years old and a fighter pilot in Germany, I went down to Supply and checked out an atomic bomb. I signed a form. I owned that atomic bomb - 61 kiloton bomb. The bomb at Hiroshima was 17,000 tons. This was 61,000 tons. And, I thought that, you know, if I can do that, uh, from my background, then look at what other people can do from their background. I had a hard tour in Vietnam. I flew 328 combat missions in about 348 days. I was shot down twice. I took battle damage a few times. I lost some roommates. I lost 22 pounds and didn’t even know it. And when I came home I was, I was tired. I was tired mentally. I was tired physically. And, I wrote a story that’s in my memoir that’s called My War for Me. If you don’t do anything else, read that story. I think it’s 7500 words, but I’m very proud of that story. It tells, uh… And in my new book, Too Far To Walk, (aside) do we have a copy of that? I tell another story that’s an aberration to my Too Far, Too War, uh, My War for Me story. And, uh, I’ll tell you briefly about that. I was laying on the, in the wet jungle in Laos. I had just jumped out. My wife got a telegram saying that I had been shot down and no parachutes had been seen. And so, I’m laying there trying to decide what to do. I had a radio. If I called the rescue people, they’d come to get me and I’d go home. But Laos in those days, in 1968, was pretty wild country. What if the helicopter comes in to get me and it’s shot down and those 2 or 3 guys are killed? Now where am I? I haven’t been rescued and 4 guys have been killed. Those things were preying on my mind. But I was 38 years old. I was a perfect human physical specimen. I had graduated from the jungle survival school in the Philippines. The jungle - it was never hot, it was never cold. Fast running water, drinkable water, was everywhere. I had two guns. I had a knife. And, under every log in the jungle is nourishing food if you’re willing to eat it - And I was. I figured I could walk to the South China Sea in a month or six weeks. So the question is, am I going to take the challenge that will never again in a million years be offered to me, or do I remember my wife and two kids at home? So what do you do? I decided it wasn’t fair to my family so I used my radio the next morning and they came and got me and nobody was killed taking me out and.. One of the things that in my life that I think that I’ve been, not gifted of course, I hate to use the word luck, I believe there’s a higher hand. Yet tomorrow I’ll get run over by a train, but I believe in karma and some of those things. I’m not a religious person, but I’m probably the most spiritual person around. That’s the way I define it. I hate to get on my soapbox. Yes, Sir?
I would like to know more about your new book.
My new book, Too Far to Walk, in my preface I explain where I got the word, the title to the book. And Dal Neitzel, who put me on the spot a while ago, uh, three days before it went to press… I own my own little publishing company, it’s called One Horse Land and Cattle Company, two days or three days before we went to the printer, I didn’t have a dust jacket. So I sent Dal Neitzel an email, and I said go to the Madison River in Yellowstone Park. There’s a very special place that I’m going to tell you about, and take a photograph of the water. Stand on the bank; put the flowers in the photograph. And send me the photograph. He did that, he sent me the photograph. My designer here in Santa Fe put the shadow across it. And two days before we went to the printer, I was still writing this book. When a writer sends a manuscript to a publisher, two years later they’re thinking about going to the printer. We did this in two days. Byproduct of having your own people working for you and the people that helped me design this book are wonderful. Same people that did that book for me (gestures to The Thrill of the Chase). You can’t thank, some people, you can never thank enough.
Forrest, we got a question from your online fan base that we gotta address too.
Who is it?
This one is anonymous.
Ok. Boy I’m in trouble now.
Was the car, you walked back to after hiding the treasure, rented?
Was it rented?
Was it rented.
You know that’s the first time I’ve been asked that question. But, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about that. That’s why I’ve told people that I buried the treasure, that I hid the treasure chest when I was either 79 or 80 years old because I don’t want the exact date to be known because I’m afraid someone will go check the rental car records and how many miles did Mr. Fenn put on the truck or the car, and so I don’t answer those kind of questions, but shoot that person that sent that email.
I have a question. Back to The Thrill of the Chase, outside of the poem, how many clues or hints are in the book? Would you say 10 to 20? 20 to 30?
How many clues?
How many hints?
There are nine clues in the poem but if you read the book, uh, there are a couple. There are a couple of good hints, and then there are a couple of aberrations that live out on the edge. Yes, ma’am?
You say there’s nine clues in the poem, the poem has more than nine lines. Can you share with us which exactly are the lines are the clues?
Which of the 24 lines are clues?
Uh, little girl I already know you. You’ve been out looking for the treasure.
I’m trying to help everybody else.
She already knows what the clues are. No, I don’t want to do that. She’s scary too!
I don’t have a question, but I just want to mention since you’re so interested in information that the gentleman that emailed you from Lummi Island… Dal… Lummi Island is on the far side of a reservation that’s called Lummi Reservation, so he has to go through the reservation every time he goes home to catch the ferry to go out to his island. Just an interesting fact I thought you might be interested in.
Uh, you know Dal, I didn’t know Dal until I after I had written my book. He came to Santa Fe because he wanted to talk to me about the book and the poem. And, I didn’t know the guy, so I didn’t want to meet him at my home, but I met him at the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe. And he introduced himself to me with a fictitious name. And he had some ulterior motives related to that. But after a few minutes to conversation, I learned that his name was Dal Neitzel and that he had worked with my nephew, Creighton Fenn, who is a professional deep sea diver. He found the Agamemnon, Lord Nelson’s flagship and brought a cannon up. He has a website that has wonderful pictures - I don’t know what the website is. But Dal Neitzel was working with my nephew when they found, I think, 79 17th century sunken Spanish galleons off the coast of Uruguay. I mean, Dal Neitzel, his water runs deep, and he’s a really neat guy too. He runs a blog. I think he controls that whole blog. It’s very interesting. I read his blog so I can learn a lot about myself. (Laughter). Your friend isn’t laughing.
Coming from the online site again, I’ve been asked to ask you how many people have told you that they’ve discovered the unintended clue in Too Far to Walk and how many were right?
Well I’ve not had anybody tell me the answer to that clue. If you read my preface, it doesn’t take a genius to know what they are talking about. But there are clues in my new book that can help a person. Did I answer that question?
Yeah, that was it. Now here’s a really obscure one. Is it possible to locate the treasure chest without ever leaving your computer and Google Earth?
No. It isn’t. Did I really say that? There is not a picture of the treasure chest on Google Earth. Was that your question?
Yeah. I think that will suffice.
Because Google Earth doesn’t go down far enough.
Tell us about the children’s book that you have planned.
The children’s book that I have planned? Well there’s a lady that contacted me. She’s written several children’s books and she read both of my books and she said I want you to write a children’s book with me. For some reason, she thought I was a child, I guess, the way I write my books. But I said okay and we’re thinking about that. I mean, I would like to do that. Sometimes, uh, I’m not a natural writer, I struggle when I write. I think my prose looks easy but I, sometimes I sit, uh, just today sometimes when I get to the end of a sentence, trying to write the end of the sentence, I forgot what the front part of the sentence was. So, I may be running out of words. I have three books in my computer that I’m really proud of. I would like to finish one. The main one is called Closet Stories of Taos. It’s about the artists and the characters but it isn’t an art book it’s a gossip book. It’s about Long John Dunne, but that wasn’t his name at all. His name was Wilhelm. He killed two people in Texas, both of them justifiable, but the court didn’t think so. They convicted him of first degree murder and gave him life in prison. And the Sabine River in south Texas overflowed and they let all the prisoners out to stack sandbags to protect the house and John Dunn jumped in the river and floated on a log and far from the reach of Texas Rangers he said. And it’s a wonderful story about John Dunn. But it’s about Horace McHorace (sp?) who owned the first car dealership in Taos, and Tarasita Ferguson and there’s a great story… I don’t know if I can tell this story in this mixed company, but I will. There were two guys down on the plaza, walking around one Sunday afternoon. And, they were accosted by two women who wore hoods over their faces. They wanted these two men to go over to La Vonda hotel with them because they had a room over there. These two guys didn’t want to do it. I’m not gonna mention their names, but in my book I do. The two women turned to walk away, and one of the men lifted the hoods of one of these two women and one of them was Tarasita Ferguson and the other one was Georgia O’Keefe. So my book is really a gossip book. Stories about Doc Martin and the artists. Great stories about Gaspard and Fechin and Sharp, and Kaus and Victor Higgins and some of the others.
Question? Ok then, I will ask another from the online world.
Will you quit going back to the computer?
Ok, this will be the last one. Other than the one you mentioned, are there any other hints in Too Far To Walk that would help solve the nine clues?
Well there’s a major clue in the book, but I don’t think it will help you find the treasure chest. I’ll tell you what the clue is. In the back of my book, there’s a map. And I’ve said that the treasure chest is hidden in the Rocky Mountains. Here’s a treasure chest (I think he meant “map”) of the Rocky Mountains. If you knew where the treasure chest is hidden, you could find it on this map. But the map stops at Canada. The Rocky’s keep going up there, but I said it’s in the Rocky Mountains, which would include Canada. When this book was printed, I didn’t realize that Benchmark Maps, who made this map, stopped at the Canadian border, so that’s a clue, but I don’t think - it’s not going to help you much.
But that’s not THE clue.
What did she say?
She said, “That’s not THE clue.”
There are no clues in this book, but there are some hints. What I tell people to do, if you’re really serious about looking for the treasure, get the Thrill of The Chase and read it. And then go back and read the poem over and over and over again. And then go back and read the book again, but slowly looking at every little abstract thing that might catch up in your brain. That might be a hint to help you with the clues. Any part of some, is better than no part of any. I don’t think that’ll help you much, but…
If somebody finds the treasure, and they reveal themselves that they have found it
If somebody finds the treasure, what?
If somebody does find the treasure, and ruins your plans to throw/cast your bones upon the chest, will you find a new location and do it again?
How do you answer a guy who asks a question like that? I don’t think so. I mean, I’ve had my run. A lot of things you can’t plan. You know, making plans is antagonistic to freedom. I used to tell a story in my Too Far To Walk book about in Santa Fe I had a Piper Malibu Barrage. Carried lots of fuel. It had a 43 foot wingspan. And I could go out there all by myself, push the hangar doors open, because I didn’t want anyone to help me, crank that airplane up, get permission from the tower to take off, and head north, and then turn my radios off. I had no idea where I was going to land, what I was going to see, I didn’t even care. I had six or seven hundred miles before I had to think about that. But I had GPS and I had maps. I’d find a little town up in Wyoming or Idaho or someplace in Montana, and look on my map and see if they had a rental car or an airport. And if they did, I’d land and rent a car and go out and sit by the lake, or the river. I did that, I think it was in Lander, Wyoming. The little Popo Agie River runs through Lander. How can you not stop where the little Popo Agie River runs through the town?
My best friend who passed away a couple of months ago lived in Lander.
She lived in Lander?
I’ve been to Lander a few times. It’s a typical little town, I mean you have to love Lander. That’s grass roots America.
As a matter of fact, I have a granddaughter that is in pre-med at Texas Tech University. I told her that I would pay for all of her college to get a medical degree if she would promise me that when she graduated and got her license, that she would go to a little town like Lander, set up a shingle and make house calls. And she has to do that for two years. She promised me that she would do that, so that’s where I am with this whole thing. Yes, sir?
Forrest, did you have nine clues before you wrote the poem? Or, did nine clues appear after the poem?
They’re contiguous. I knew where I wanted to hide the treasure chest, so it was easy for me to put one foot down and then step on it to get to the next foot. So that’s what I did. But I changed it over - I don’t know how many times. I looked up the meaning of words. You know we really don’t know what some of our words mean. For instance, what does the word “several” mean? S-E-V-E-R-A-L what does that mean?
It means more than two, but not many more than two. Isn’t that a way to define a word. More than two, but not many. So, I doubt that anybody in this room knows that. I mean, I wouldn’t know it except I’m a writer and sometimes I look things up. There are lots of words in the English language that we can’t define and consequently we use them erroneously. How in the hell did I get on that subject?
Is there anything in the chest you would like back?
Is there anything in the chest I want back. Yeah, I want my little bracelet back. And I’m glad you asked that question. Her name is, uh, M-A-C-I. Well, anyway, I’ve had about 35 men, or people, send me an email that says, “I found your treasure.” I’m looking at it, of course I don’t believe it. But I write them back and say, “Congratulations. Will you sell me my bracelet back?” and they say, “What bracelet?” And this one guy said that to me - that he had my treasure chest. I said, well, “I’m interested sir, did the hot water affect the patina on the treasure chest?” He said, “Thank you!” and hung up. He thought I had given him a clue and he’s gonna go look in all the hot water up and down the Rocky Mountains. People… Everybody has their own gig. I keep saying that. I believe it. Yes, ma’am?
50:02 Have you given comparable treasure to your grandchildren, sir?
Do I have comparable treasure for my grandchildren?
My family is taken care of. But I’m another maverick in that area. The last thing I want to do is make my kids or grandkids wealthy. I was in the art business for so many years, and I saw what inherited money can do. It’s the thrill of the chase. It’s the thrill in doing it yourself. I bought all my grandkids cars when they got their driver’s license. I’m paying for all their education. And then, they are on their own. First of all, I’m really not that wealthy. I mean, I can live on the interest, and that’s the definition of a wealthy person I guess, I mean.... Lots of things, uh, uh, I have everything I want but I don’t want very much.
How did you come up with the title? Too Far to Walk?
You’ll have to read my preface. I explained it in my preface. Well, let me read it to you. I’ll read a dedication. This book is dedicated to all that have pushed me against my will, and made me a better person. Here’s my preface. I put a small rubber dinghy in the Madison River a few miles from West Yellowstone, Montana and fished downstream to Baker’s Hole. That part of the river was in the quietly forgotten western edge of Yellowstone National Park. There were no roads, no trails, and no Rangers to tell me I wasn’t supposed to do that. The river distance was about 10 miles and the best fishing was in the bends where the water turned greenish deep and beautiful. The small boat containing my camping gear was tethered to my belt and as I leisurely walked in the quiet river, I spent three days there casually casting my fly and enjoying the solitude. The river experience cemented my connection to that special country, and I promised myself that someday I would make that trip again. That day never came for me, and my disappointment still casts a lonesome shadow across the Madison River. For me now, it’s just too far to walk. And that’s where I got the title. Yes, sir?
Forrest, may I suggest that you tell the audience for those of us who aren’t searchers, tell the audience, who is not searching why the phrase “too far to walk” is so important?
I didn’t say it was too far...err. Important! That part of the preface is a metaphor for my entire life. Looking back, I’ve done some things that I’m not gonna brag about, but I’ve also not done some things that I’d wish I had. As a matter of fact, in the Thrill of the Chase, I talk about writing my obituary. My, uh, what do you call it, (epitaph?) Yeah.
I wish I could have lived to do The things I was attributed to (Laughter)
See there? She feels the same way about that. Well, I had my gallery for 17 years in Santa Fe. And, I had no education. I’d been a fighter pilot all my life. So when I opened my business, I didn’t have a painting. Knew nothing about business, knew nothing about art. That’s why I had to start from scratch. My first two shows, I didn’t sell so much as a book. And I finally told myself, I had a little bit of money left, that I’d saved 20 years in the Air Force. I said I’m going to spend this money advertising, and if that doesn’t work I’m gonna slam the door and go do something else.
And it started working for me. I learned to play Monopoly at my art gallery. And every time I sold a painting, I took the profit and bought two paintings. Then I took the profit and bought four paintings. Over a period of time, it took me two years before I could finance my gallery out of accounts receivable. But I learned a lot along the way. There’s so much to learn. I learned that when I needed somebody to work in my accounts receivable and accounts payable office, that’s a very important job. In the business, everything depends on cash flow. So this lady came to see me. She wanted to work for me. I needed somebody in accounts receivable and accounts payable. So, I said let me think about it overnight. So about eight o’clock that night, I went to her house and knocked on her door. She let me in. I wanted to see what kind of housekeeper she was. If there’s stuff laying all over the floor, she’s not going to work in my accounts receivable. But I want her working as a salesman out front. Different personalities have different things. You know, I’ve always said that salesmen, like school teachers, have shelf lives. And it’s about six years. Dorothy will say that’s not true. If you own your own business it’s a little bit different, but I learned a lot in the art business. I learned a lot about people, I learned a lot about business, and I learned a lot about life.
So many writers, I don’t want to be critical, but I know so many writers that are so much better than I am. They… Everything is researched perfectly. Everything is correct. The commas are in the right spot, and you go right down the center line. And I told this writer today she should be writing Encyclopedia Britannicas. It’s no fun to read. Everything’s there, but it’s no fun. I said - when are you gonna walk out to the… How do you know where the edge is if you don’t go out there and look? I never wanted to go down the center line. I wanted to bounce off the curbs and I think I’ve done that. I got caught a few times, but… I think if… If I had my life to do over, I said in my, one of these books that, if I had my life to do over, I’d change nearly everything. Why do the same thing over and over again? You know? You read in these different magazines, they ask a different question, “What would you change in your life?”
“I wouldn’t change anything, everything’s been perfect.” I think that’s such a, a, an idiot thing to say, I think. Why do the same thing over again when you can… Nothing wrong with slamming a door and starting out new again.
Out of the night that covers me Dark is the pit from pole to pole I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul
I think that’s a good place to stop, don’t you?
|9292||5/29/2015||Richard Eeds Show|
|Link: Click Here
RICHARD EEDS: Really happy to have in studio with us now a man who’s a legend in Santa Fe. Never met him until he did come in today. I had my doubts whether he’d show up or not. I think he likes to mess with people a little bit. Forrest Fenn. Good morning. Can you hear me okay? Sounds good?
FENN: I can hear you just fine. And I can say that I’m your biggest fan. You know, 101.5 on your FM radio dial. We listened to you on the way over here today.
EEDS: Really. So now you’re the biggest fan? You say we. You brought your granddaughter Mika?
FENN: Yeah, granddaughter Mika. She’s just out of college. She’s trying to find out what she’s going to do.
EEDS: Texas Tech International Business graduate.
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Red Raider. Alright, Forrest Fenn. Best known probably for, I don’t know how long this has been going on. Five years maybe? The treasure hunt.
FENN: Going on about five years.
EEDS: Five years. And so now you’re internationally famous, but you’ve been a well-known business man, collector, you’ve been into all kinds of different things. You’ve been around Santa Fe for a long, long time.
FENN: Well, I moved to Santa Fe in 1972. Yeah, that’s a long time.
EEDS: It is a long time. Especially, uh, I mean, there’s been people here for four or five hundred years but, a lot of other people have just moved here in the past 10 or 15 years. What did you do? When you moved here in ‘72, what was the reason?
FENN: Well I was a fighter pilot in Vietnam and I had a hard tour. I was shot down twice. I took battle damage. I lost some roommates. I lost 22 pounds and didn’t even know it. I came home mentally tired, and physically tired. Santa Fe was the only place I knew where the world would stop and let me out. That was my image of Santa Fe at that time. I knew I wasn’t going to wear a watch or a coat and tie. So, Santa Fe was the place for me.
EEDS: How much injuries sustained in the crashes? In the plane crashes when you were shot down? Did you sustain physical injuries?
FENN: I was damaged a little bit when the helicopter pulled me up through the trees out of the jungle in Laos. Hurt my head some, and beat me up a little bit. But the first time I was shot down, I crash landed on a little helicopter strip in South Vietnam. I walked away from it. I’ve always said any landing you can walk away from is a good one. But in that case, any landing you could crawl away from was a good one.
EEDS: What were you flying jets or propellers?
FENN: I was flying an F-100C and D. It was jet. It held the world speed record when I first started flying that airplane.
EEDS: But only land-based. No carrier-based?
FENN: That’s right. I’m too smart for that.
EEDS: Yeah. So that kind of prompted you to move here. Where did you grow up? Where did you spend most of your childhood?
FENN: I was born and raised in Temple, Texas a little town between Waco and Austin.
EEDS: Okay. Probably under floodwaters today. They’re having tough times down there.
FENN: That’s a little bit south of there, but you know, I was a farm kid. We had cows and chickens and things. We had a good life. I was born in 1930. People were still riding horses in those days.
EEDS: True, yeah. Cars were too unreliable on the dirt roads.
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Horses were reliable. Went to town with a wagon.
FENN: That’s right. The livery stable was just a half mile from my house. I was always watching cowboys ride back and forth.
EEDS: Alright, Forrest Fenn is our guest. Forrest, you moved here in the ‘70s, as you said intending to recover, get over the war in Vietnam, and you knew you were going to have whatever kind of life you wanted. A slower life because of Santa Fe. What did you come here intending to do, or did you just come here looking for something?
FENN: Well I came here wanting to deal in luxuries. I didn’t know anything about art. I made terrible grades in high school and I never did go to college so, you know, I started at the bottom. I had a bunch of rules that I’d made for myself over the years. And one of my rules was that I don’t want to do anything where my best customer gives me $100. I want my best customer to give me a lot more than that and I didn’t know how to do that. I found my niche though in Santa Fe eventually. I built a gallery over on 1075 Paseo de Peralta just two blocks east of the capitol building and we started slow. My wife and I slept on the floor while we plastered the walls. It took a while. I had two, what I call major, shows and didn’t sell anything. Didn’t even sell a book. And I told myself I may have to go flip burgers or something. But I had a little money left, I said I’m going to spend this money advertising and if that doesn’t work, I’m going to slam the door and walk away. But it started working. Things started happening. I started playing Monopoly. Buying
EEDS: So you sold one painting, re-invest it. Grow
FENN: I sell one painting, take the money and buy a better painting. Sell that one, and then buy a better one.
EEDS: Mika, are you listening?
MIKA: I listen every day.
EEDS: Yeah. Sounds like a good business plan in general. Don’t... But for you, you don’t want to take anything less than $10,000 from your first customer right? But it’s a good plan. And it worked out right?
FENN: It worked out eventually. There are businesses where you
EEDS: What were you trying to show in the gallery anyway? Were you trying to show native art? Western art?
FENN: I wanted to sell old art because I didn’t want to argue with artists. I wanted to deal with dead ones. That was a wise move on my part.
EEDS: No negotiation necessary.
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Except with the buyer. And eventually, how big did the gallery become?
FENN: How big did the gallery become… Well I…
EEDS: Artists come to you? Or art came to you?
FENN: Art came to me. Yeah. The secret to having a successful art gallery is having something that everybody wants to buy from you. Anybody can sell a great painting, but not everybody can find a great painting to sell. So my job was to find great art to sell.
EEDS: But you were not great at school. How did you learn what was great art?
FENN: Well eventually the price had something to do with it.
EEDS: Yeah, ok. If it was expensive, it was good art.
FENN: But I was looking for names too and I… All that work started working for me after a while. One of the measurements, the way I measure my success was I never had to borrow money to make payroll. That was one of my rules. I don’t want to do that. And after two or three years, we were living off of accounts receivable, and, so I told myself, as long as I can do that. I never did want to borrow money because I figured the only way I could lose my business is if I owed money.
EEDS: If the bank took it from you.
EEDS: Sounds like a very interesting beginning. It was hard there for a while, right? Before you got the ball rolling?
FENN: I started at the bottom and you know, I’d go around to different galleries in town. Actually I was one of the first art galleries in town 1972 there was Market Jameson gallery and that was just about it. But I’d go around to some of the shops and see what they were doing. What could I learn? I remember I went into the Kachina Gallery up on Canyon Road. They sold kachina dolls and there were just 10 million kachina dolls they were everywhere. They had little signs there on the wall and it said, “If you touch it you bought it.” You were responsible for your kid. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I feared for my life. So I learned from that. I went back to my gallery and I made a number of little signs that said, “Please touch, we are responsible.” So that’s how I learned the business. I never had a customer break anything. I had employees break some things. But how are you gonna buy a great piece of art if you’re not allowed to touch it? I don’t understand some of these… I think I had an advantage over some people because I never learned the rules of what made businesses fail.
EEDS: And you didn’t learn the bad habits, the bad rules of the galleries or the artists around town. You figured it out with what you believed in. Your own business philosophy.
FENN: That’s right. And another rule I had was that I’ll take your check for any amount of money. This guy bought an expensive painting from me. I think it was $275,000. He said, “How can I pay you for this?” I said, “I’ll take your check.” He said, “You’ll take my check?” I said, “Sure I’ll take your check.” So he pulled out his ID card to show me. I told him I don’t want to see that. I said, “I can look in your face.” And I was never sorry. I had two bad checks. One of them was for $25 for a book and I forgot what the other one was.
EEDS: Right. The $275,000 cashed. It cleared the bank?
FENN: It cleared the bank. And I owed most of it and I was hoping it would clear the bank.
EEDS: Our guest is Forrest Fenn. We’ll continue our conversation and get into how he started collecting and what he started collecting and we’ll talk about the treasure hunt. Is it real, or is it just, I don’t know, a metaphor? Seventeen minutes after ten o’clock this is KVSF 101.5 the Voice of Santa Fe. We stream worldwide from santafe.com. Podcasts are available by about noon, one o’clock. Whenever Gino gets around to it. Also santafe.com/richardeeds. We’ve made it a lot easier. Also, pictures of Forrest and little videos of Forrest also on our Facebook page or KVSF 101.5. Be back right after this. Seventeen minutes after ten o’clock.
EEDS: Twenty minutes after ten o’clock it is Friday - means blues. We play the blues on Friday. Beautiful day in Santa Fe so far. Wind is picking up, and clouds are moving in a little bit, but it’s going to be about 80 today. Already in the mid-60’s. Should be a nice weekend as well. Guests in the studio is Forrest Fenn and his granddaughter Mika and we just learned that Forrest is looking for stuff. He not only likes stuff, but he’s looking for stuff. If anybody knows where he can buy a 1935 Plymouth. Now is it the two door or four door?
FENN: Well the one I had was a two-door. Very interestingly, the difference between a deluxe 1935 Plymouth and the second rate car is on the deluxe it has windshield wipers on both sides and it has a sun visor not just on the driver’s side but on both sides.
EEDS: Made it deluxe.
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Had two of each. But you would like to buy one if you can find the right one. Is this because this was the first car you had and when you went into the Air Force you came back and it was gone?
FENN: In 1946 I was 16 years old. I moved to Atlanta to spend the summer with a friend and I saved $250 to buy a car and that’s what I gave for that 1935 Plymouth. I didn’t have a driver license but I, and I was so short I really couldn’t see over the dashboard. But I piled a book and a couple of pillows, and I drove my car from Atlanta, Georgia to Temple, TX at night.
EEDS: Without a driver license?
FENN: Because I didn't want the police to see that I was too young to be driving. So I slept during the day and drove all night.
EEDS: Have all your kids and grandkids known these stories? You’re not a very good example for a lot of them.
FENN: Well, if I don’t know a good story, I’ll just make up one. So they know all of them.
EEDS: You’re still looking for it. If somebody out there knows where there’s a two door or deluxe ‘35 Plymouth?
FENN: No, no. mine was not Deluxe.
EEDS: Alright. But you’d take either? You would take either if anybody has one?
FENN: Oh sure.
EEDS: But you want something that’s decent right?
FENN: I want to be able to drive it. It’ll be a culture shock for downtown Santa Fe if I drive around in that ‘35 Plymouth.
EEDS: That’d be great. So people could find you on the website?
FENN: oldsantafetradingco.com is my website.
EEDS: So they can find an email if they have a Plymouth.
EEDS: Yeah, get in touch with you. Send you some pictures maybe.
FENN: That’s right. I’d love that.
EEDS: That’d be cool. Alright, so what do you collect now? Pictures show that your house is pretty much floor to ceiling, wall to wall stuff. Started collecting when you were, eight?
FENN: I was nine years old when I found my first arrowhead and that’s what started me. My philosophy is, that if I don’t have that object, then I can’t have all of them.
FENN: So, and I’ll always paid too much. I never bought anything for a fair price, but my philosophy was, if I give you too much for something, you spend the money and don’t have anything but I have the object. So I always had an advantage when I was buying something.
EEDS: What’s the most you ever spent on something you still have?
FENN: Couple hundred thousand dollars on a painting.
EEDS: You still have it? What is it of?
FENN: It’s a Nicolai Fechin painting of a little girl painted in Taos. But I own Sitting Bull’s pipe and you know, it’s worth a bunch of money. And people laugh at me when I say Sitting Bull owned this pipe. But we took pictures of it, and we blew it up and we matched grain in the wood of Sitting Bull holding the pipe with grain in the wood of the photograph we took, so there’s no question that Sitting Bull was holding that pipe. And that’s one of my prized possessions.
EEDS: Along with the arrowhead.
FENN: It had a lot of history, sure.
EEDS: You still have the arrowhead.
FENN: Still have the arrowhead.
EEDS: And what kind of Indians lived in Temple, Texas? What was the tribe?
FENN: Well, we were on the southern edge of the Kiowa, Comanche, Southern Cheyenne, Osage. Mostly Comanche. I remember my grandmother telling me when she was a kid in Fort Worth, Texas, the Comanches running through her barnyard trying to catch chickens and her father said leave those guys alone.
EEDS: Yeah, let them have the chickens.
FENN: Yeah. Let them have the chicken, yeah.
EEDS: Interesting. I was born, I wasn’t raised there, but I was born in a little town called Beeville if you know where that is.
FENN: Oh sure, that’s south Texas.
EEDS: Between San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Pretty flat down there. We still have a ranch down there that just went on the market. Cousins decided it’s been sitting long enough, but they sent pictures. They have pictures posted on the internet. It’s exactly the same from when I was a little kid. So over all these years, Forrest, since you were nine years old, now you’re seventy-five-
FENN: I’m eighty-four.
EEDS: Eighty-four years old, I was trying to be nice. It looks like mostly historic memorabilia is what you like? American historical?
FENN: Well, not necessarily American. I have some Egyptian things. Ancient Egyptian. And, you know, Roman and Greek. If it’s old and good I like it.
FENN: Especially if it has some history.
EEDS: What about, what about, if there is anything, if there is a treasure chest, if there’s anything in it, if there are coins, gold, and jewels in it, if there is one, when did you start amassing those? How old were you?
FENN: Now why would you say if there is one?
EEDS: I don’t know. There are some people that think that you are trying to enlighten people to the fact that there are other kinds of treasures in life other than gold and jewels.
FENN: Well, you said if there is one. I was afraid that people would say I wrote my memoir as a gimmick to sell the book, the treasure chest is a gimmick to sell the book. So, I don’t know whether you know this or not, but I gave the all the books to the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe. I didn’t even get my publishing costs back. Just so guys like you couldn’t say “if there is a treasure chest.”
EEDS: So you’re stating emphatically, right now, there is a treasure chest.
FENN: There’s a treasure chest and it’s out there and you’re the kind of guy that can go out there and find it.
EEDS: I probably could. Alright, I’m going to try and get a clue out of you. So how big has it gotten? How big has the entire phenomenon gotten?… There have been… I know there have been hotels in Laredo… I think that when one of the clues came out, they ran a treasure hunters special and filled the hotel. I mean, you’re doing a lot for business in Santa Fe.
FENN: Well that’s right. The mayor presented me with a beautiful little thing yesterday at the bookstore thanking me for… Santa Fe - the occupancy rate in the hotels was up 10% last summer. Nobody knows why. But I think the treasure searchers came, 30,000 of them came to Santa Fe last summer.
EEDS: thirty thousand.
FENN: Yellowstone park had more visitors last summer than any other year in their history.
EEDS: Why Yellowstone?
FENN: Because that’s where I grew up and a lot of people think that the treasure is buried - is hidden someplace there. I’ve said that -
EEDS: Yellowstone National Park?
EEDS: Jellystone. Yogi Bear.
FENN: I’ve said it’s in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, and Yellowstone is -
EEDS: That’s true.
FENN: Fits that description, sure. The treasure is out there, I guarantee it.
EEDS: You’ve also said it’s under 14,000 feet.
FENN: No, I said it’s below 12,200 feet and above 5,000 feet.
EEDS: Okay. But everywhere is about 5,000 feet.
FENN: That’s a lot of places in the Rocky Mountains.
EEDS: You’re not helping people - that’s a lot of places.
FENN: Well, this lady called me on the phone and she said, Mr. Fenn I’ve studied your poem and I’ve looked at your clues. I need some, I just, I cannot figure it out. You’ve got to help me. I need something else. I said, Lady, I’ll give you a clue. The treasure is more than 300 miles west of Toledo. And she said, well thank you Mr. Fenn, I really appreciate it. And she hung up the phone just happy as a bumblebee.
EEDS: Now the people are convinced, people have done this, ruthlessly gone through your clues and sense they know the spot. I was reading this story. One man said, “I’ll send you an email. You just wait, I’ll send pictures. I’ll have it by, what, this weekend” or something. You never heard back?
FENN: I get 50 emails a day that say that.
FENN: Sure. They know exactly where it is. There are five people that have said the whole story is a hoax. But all five of them were avid searchers. And they knew where the treasure was, but when they went to where it should be, and it wasn’t there one of two things happened. Either somebody’s already found it and left with it, or the whole story is a hoax. But interestingly, all five of those people are still out searching.
EEDS: Of course. Can you stick around a little while longer?
EEDS: Alright. Thirty minutes after ten o’clock. Our guest is Forrest Fenn. I’m glad he came in. I had my doubts. Forrest is a bit of a prankster. We’ll find out from Mika. We’ll find out the truth here in a second. Twenty-nine minutes after ten o’clock. We’ll be right back. It is Friday, thank God it’s Friday. We stream live at santafe dot com, KVSF 101.5 The Voice of Santa Fe
EEDS: Thirty-three minutes past ten o’clock. Our guest is Forrest Fenn. Treasure collector. Treasure hider. Book writer. Author. Has a new book coming out, we’ll get to that in a minute. Alright, so, do you want to tell us, Forrest, the treasure definitely exists. And doubters like me can just, you know, whatever. And, you know I don’t want to say it on the radio. But, can you tell us what might be in it?
FENN: What’s in the treasure chest?
EEDS: What’s in the treasure chest.
FENN: I can tell you exactly what’s in it. There are 265 gold coins.
EEDS: From what period?
FENN: American Eagles and Double Eagles, and there’s some Middle Eastern gold coins that date to the 14th century. There are hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets. Two gold nuggets are larger than a hen’s egg. They weigh 1.2 Troy pounds each, but hundreds of other gold nuggets. Two beautiful little ancient Chinese jade carvings, and pre-Columbian gold figures and necklaces and hundreds of
EEDS: Precious gems?
FENN: Hundreds of rubies. There are eight - two Ceylon sapphires, there’s about eight nice emeralds, and lots of diamonds. It’s a… If you find the treasure chest and put it on your lap and raise the lid, it’ll be a culture shock for you, Mr. Eeds.
EEDS: Alright, I’m gonna start to believe here. What is the chest itself?
FENN: The chest is a beautiful cast bronze thing. Ten inches by ten inches and five inches high, and it’s absolutely full of gold.
EEDS: Is it old? The chest itself?
FENN: We think it’s 12th century, sure. Romanesque. I don’t know what to say. If you find it, you’ll either start laughing, or you’ll faint. One of the two.
EEDS: I’d pass out.
FENN: I gave $25,000 for the chest.
EEDS: How long had you had it?
FENN: Well, I started collecting things in 1982 when I had cancer and I thought I was going to die. That’s when I got this idea to hide this treasure chest. Why not let everybody else have as much fun as I’ve had over the many years. And that was my motivation.
EEDS: So you bought the chest right around that period?
EEDS: Okay. Um, how much does it weigh?
FENN: The gold in the treasure chest weighs 20.2 Troy pounds. And the chest weighs forty, uh, twenty-two pounds. So the whole thing, I think, is around 42 pounds. It was heavy enough that I made two trips to hide it. I took the gold in one time, and then I took the treasure chest in the second time.
EEDS: What kind of shoes? What kind of footprints did you leave? What kind of boots did you have on?
FENN: Well if I told you that, you’d go out and find it.
EEDS: Is there, Forrest, is there any chance that somebody has found it?
FENN: I’m 99.99% sure that no one has found the treasure chest yet. You can never be 100% sure, but sure, it’s still out there. I would bet my kingdom that it’s still out there.
EEDS: And you have a substantial kingdom? When, how do you decide when to add clues? And you’ve done them how and so on?
FENN: Well, there are nine clues in my poem and one is in my book. And I’m not going to give any more clues. I’m… There are hints in my book that will help you with the clues, but.. A clue will point you toward the treasure chest, and a hint will just help you with the clues, if you can understand that.
EEDS: No, that makes sense.
FENN: But I don’t give any more clues. I’ve given, I’ve said some things that people think are clues
EEDS: Two hundred miles west of Toledo.
FENN: And it’s not buried in an outhouse. I’ve given that as a clue.
EEDS: That’s good.
FENN: Yeah, some people were very happy to get that answer.
EEDS: Yeah. You said the, kinda the motivation was, you got sick. Did you think this was it? You were going to be checking out?
FENN: Well, my doctor gave me a 20% chance of living three years. I mean look at the odds. One in five is not very good. But I told myself, that has to sink, it takes a couple of weeks for that to soak in. But then I told myself if I’m going who says I can’t take it with me? Sure I can take it with me, and that’s when I got the treasure chest. That’s when I started filling it up with wonderful things, you know if I’m going to go, I’m just going to take it with me and to heck with what everybody else thinks. The trouble is, I got well and ruined the story.
EEDS: Yeah. You ruined the whole thing. Um, but, that was kind of the motivation, uh, for wanting to do that, and then how long ago… The latest book that you’ve published is three years old? Two years old? Three years old.
FENN: Something like that, yes. It’s called Too Far to Walk.
FENN: It’s kind of a continuation of my Thrill of the Chase book.
EEDS: What was the thrill of the chase?
FENN: Why would you ask me what is the thrill of the chase? You know that more than anybody in the world.
EEDS: I’m just sitting here. I’m hoping people are listening in their cars at work or at home. They want to hear it from you.
FENN: Well, if you haven’t been consumed by something in your life, I think you deserve another term, and the thrill of the chase personifies that to me.
EEDS: Keep living. Always be chasing.
FENN: Sure. Everybody needs to collect something. I might be the world’s greatest collector. I collected bottle tops. I collected string.
EEDS: Tin foil?
FENN: You know, I could have done that, but I don’t think I ever collected tin foil. That’s something that could have been on my agenda if I’d thought about it.
EEDS: One of the things that seems to surprise you when you have talked to the press, or done little videos about this entire treasure chest and about your life, and it’s been a you know, a life worthy of books and lots being written about it, you seemed a little bit surprised at the people that have invaded your privacy. Were you not expecting that? I mean, here’s a man, a Santa Fe New Mexican who lives out, you know, you live out in the open. You're not behind a giant wall or a compound, you live out in the open. You’re just a man who goes around and does his own business. Were you a little bit surprised that people would be so brash?
FENN: No, I worked on this project a long time. I really think I thought about most things. Certainly the thought occurred to me that my life could be in danger by somebody kidnapping me. I’ve called 911 three times in my home. This one guy started wrestling with police officers and they handcuffed him and took him off to jail. But that’s a very small group of people, and the great preponderance of people looking for the treasure are good Americans. They’ll say Mr. Fenn, we know we’re not going to find the treasure but I just want to thank you for getting me and the kids off the couch and away from the game room and out to smell the sunshine. That’s important to me. This lady from, a writer from Austin called me on the phone, she said Mr. Fenn I read your book. That’s really a strange book she said. Who’s your audience for a book like that? I said, lady, my audience is every redneck in Texas that lost his job, has 12 kids, and a pickup truck. I said, that’s my audience. That’s who I hope finds my treasure. But, you know, Mr. Eeds, we have a problem in this country with our youth today, and I think none of us are doing enough to solve that problem. The teenagers of today are going to be our congressmen and senators twenty, twenty-five years from now - president of the United States, and I blame the churches and the schools, and I blame you, and I blame me, and I blame Mika, because we’re not doing enough to combat the problem. The greatest asset we have in this country is our youth.
EEDS: You think the problem is lack of activity or are you talking about lack of education? What is the problem, Forrest?
FENN: Well, I think it’s all of those things, but it’s something I feel is incumbent upon all of us to try to solve. In my small way, I’m doing a part. If everybody in this country, all the grown ups in this country, would do a little bit, it would make a big difference.
EEDS: How many people are now actively part of your plan. Your master plan, your effort. You know, if all of this is to improve our country and to improve all of us, the lot of us, how many people do you think are involved now? Buy your books or are looking for your treasure?
FENN: Well, I think, my guess is that 50,000 will come to Santa Fe this summer.
EEDS: This summer?
FENN: And just as many into Colorado and Wyoming and Montana. A lot of people think the treasure chest is in Montana around Hebgen Lake and the Gallatin National Forest that was very important to me when I was a kid. And I’ve said that in my books, and they see that as a hint to where the treasure is.
EEDS: So 50,000 people you think this summer, but you’re not going to release any more clues?
FENN: I’m not going to release any more clues.
EEDS: What will you do to stoke the fires?
FENN: What would I do to what?
EEDS: What will you do to create more buzz, create more activity to keep people interested or get more people into it?
FENN: Well you know, it’s out of my hands now really. When I hid that treasure chest, there was nobody around. And I was walking back to my car and I looked around and I started laughing. And I said out loud, Forrest Fenn did you really do that? And I started laughing. I thought it was the most atrocious thing that I’d ever done. But, in the back of my mind, I told myself that if I’m sorry tomorrow, I can go back and get the treasure chest. But the more I thought about it, I said, no I’m not going to do it. And I told myself it’s out of my hands now. I’m an interested bystander at this point. But I get between 100 and 120 emails every day from people that, most of them know where the treasure chest is. They just want me to confirm it. This one lady says, you know Mr. Fenn, I’m coming out there in my pickup truck but it’s not a very good truck anymore. If my truck breaks, will you pick me up and take me the rest of the way to the treasure?
EEDS: No problem, right?
FENN: No problem.
EEDS: What, of course the value has got to fluctuate as the price of gold goes up and down. Average day, what’s the treasure worth inside the treasure chest?
FENN: You know, I’ve thought of that don’t really know. A lot of the coins have numismatic value, beyond the price of gold and
EEDS: Sure, historic value
FENN: and that fluctuates every day. There are so many little things that I really don’t know what they’re worth. Those two little ancient Chinese jade figures, I think I gave $12,000 each for those things and the Sinu and Tairona necklace that has fetishes made out of quartz crystal and carnelian and semi-precious stones, uh, it’s 2,000 years old and the last thing I put in that bracelet was a little bracelet that has 22 little turquoise disc beads in it that Richard Weatherall found the first time he went into Mesa - the day he discovered Mesa Verde. Climbed down the cliffs, and walked into Mesa Verde and picked up these 22 little beads.
EEDS: Was he one of the guys that was on the cattle drive that found… You say discovered, discovered for White Men, was he one of the guys on the cattle drive who discovered by accident?
FENN: Well, Richard Weatherall discovered Mesa Verde. If my story is correct, he was sitting up on the bluff there in the trees, took a nap, and when he woke up, the sun, the shadows had changed and he looked across there was Mesa Verde. He was flabbergasted because he had never seen it before. He worked around that part of the country.
EEDS: One of my favorite places.
FENN: Well I won that little bracelet in a pool game with Byron Harvey, who was one of the heirs of Fred Harvey. And it has a good story, and it fit me perfectly, and I wanted something dear to me to be in that treas - I wanted part of me to be in that treasure chest. When I closed the lid for the last time, I told myself that some of me is in that treasure chest.
EEDS: Can you turn on Mika’s microphone? Mika what have you seen, you’re nodding. Have you seen - do you remember seeing some of the stuff that’s in the treasure chest?
MIKA: I remember when he was putting… I was quite young at the time, but I remember when he was putting it together. I remember the bracelet, and I have lots of friends that have gone out looking for it. I’ve always told them that if you find it, the only thing I want is that turquoise bracelet. You can keep the gold, and you can keep the jade.
EEDS: The bracelet we’re talking about from Mesa Verde.
MIKA: Yes. But I’d love to have that bracelet because of the sentimentality behind it for my grandfather.
EEDS: Right. Anything else in there? The jade figures - anything else in there you remember?
MIKA: Uh, there’s a bracelet that I remember vividly because it’s so unique. It’s a dragon bracelet right grandpa?
MIKA: It’s made out of gold and it has its eyes are rubies I believe and it’s wrapped in diamonds. It’s just this extraordinary piece of jewelry that I remember quite vividly because it is so amazing.
EEDS: So if you weren’t here, I would still think he’s putting me on but -
MIKA: He’s not. I give you my personal word that he is entirely honest. He likes to embellish, but he’s an honest man.
EEDS: I love the idea that you won that in a pool tournament with Fred Harvey’s… FENN: Grandnephew. It was in a pool game in his house in Scottsdale.
EEDS: Have you been by to see the Harvey Girls exhibit at the History Museum? About the entire… You know, what an ag… what a monumental marketing discovery the size of southwest. People don’t know this story - Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls. It was huge.
FENN: I have not seen that exhibit but I plan to. I knew one of the famous Harvey Girls. She lived up on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. She had called me on the phone and said, Forrest come on up here let’s celebrate with some libations. That was the word she liked to use. I’d go up there. She’d drink vodka and I’d drink coffee… I’m sticking to that story.
EEDS: Yeah. I bet you are. Can we talk about your book? We’ll take another time out here. Another quick break. Come back, talk about the new book - a Russian…
FENN: Leon Gaspard
EEDS: Announcement going to come out very, very soon and you say you’ve got some kind of ground-breaking publishing technology that you’re going to use.
FENN: That’s right. Everybody better sit down when I start talking about it.
EEDS: This is cool. Forrest Fenn is not only a collector and treasure hider, but he’s also cutting edge publisher. Who knew? Forty-seven minutes after ten. We’ll be right back. KVSF 101.5 the Voice of Santa Fe.
EEDS: Fifty-one minutes after ten o’clock. Our guest in the studio is Forrest Fenn and his granddaughter Mika. So, Forrest, uh, new book coming out. You said within the next 30 days the topic is:
FENN: Well we hope to print within the next 30 days.
EEDS: What’s it about?
FENN: It’s a biography of Leon Gaspard - the great Russian-American painter. He was born in 1862 and died in 1964. One of the famous uhh
EEDS: Wow! 102 years old!
FENN: Did I say that?
EEDS: 1862 to 1964
FENN: Well, you know, I may have stretched that a little bit one way or the other.
EEDS: Alright, so it’s fiction?
FENN: He was a painter. He joined the French Army in World War 1. He was a pil - he was sitting in an airplane and he was shot down, and he jumped out of the airplane and he went into a mud puddle and it’s a wonderful story. Took him a long time to recover. But when he got married, he married an American woman, and his uncle gave him three horses. So Leon Gaspard got on his horse with his wife Evelyn, and for two years, they rode across Mongolia and Afghanistan and those countries on their honeymoon. That’ll clean out your sinuses a little bit. That’s the kind of person he was. In my book, we think we are breaking new ground and, you can tell me if I’m wrong, but on two places in my book there’s a link that you type the link into Google and you get a video of Leon Gaspard riding on his horse in Taos. We’re talking about 1920. Another link you can click on, you hear Leon Gaspard’s actual voice telling a story. We have nine paintings illustrated in the book that are 20 inches wide. When’s the last time you saw a 20’ inch wide spread in a book?
MIKA: I don’t think I ever have. Until 30 days from now
EEDS: Alright, so Leon became, he lived in Taos. Was he part, I mean, was he well-known, established painter, part of the Taos arts scene?
FENN: Well, he didn’t belong to the Taos society of artists, but he and Nicolai Fechin are both Russian-American. They were arguably among the two best artists that ever lived in Taos. But, yeah, they spoke Russian together. They played chess. Leon Gaspard made really great borscht and invited Russian friends over for dinner. There was high society in those days in the teens and 1920s.
EEDS: Okay, but this was, you didn’t know either of them?
FENN: No. I didn’t come on the scene then.
EEDS: Until ‘72?
FENN: But I wrote a book about Nicolai Fechin and he was born within a year of Leon Gaspard, and they were very close friends. Gaspard paintings that I was selling in my gallery in Santa Fe in 1976 and 1977 for $7,500 are $1.5 million today. I mean the appreciation on those things - and the same thing is true for Niocolai Fechin. If you have any money sticking in a tin can buried in your backyard, you’d better go buy a Nicolai Fechin painting or a Leon Gaspard.
EEDS: Art is still a good investment?
FENN: Art is a great investment.
EEDS: Who are, uh, that school, the famous Taos artists society, who are some of the your famous uh…
FENN: My favorites?
EEDS: Yeah. A painter - if you saw one up on Canyon Road today, you would go man, I gotta figure out how to go get that.
FENN: Well, Victor Higgins of course is one of my favorites, but Gaspard, and Fechin, and Earnest Bloomenschein. I wrote two books about Joseph Henry Sharp, I bought his estate. He was a good painter. He wasn’t one of the best, but he was probably fourth or fifth on that list. It’s extraordinary that so many great painters would move to a little town like Taos. You know, Bloomenschein and Burt Phillips were in Taos for the first time in September 1888.
EEDS: Some kind of accident. The wagon broke down.
FENN: Excuse, 1898. And Burt Phillips stayed. He was the first one to really stay in Taos. They became fixtures up there and they had trouble selling their paintings and Victor Higgins used to meet the bus with paintings. When somebody stepped off the bus, he’d try to sell them a painting. You know, $200 would buy the best thing he had. That painting today is $1,000,000.
EEDS: You talk about how we need to help our children. Children in the United States are under a lot of pressure and probably, like you said, they’re the future. Um, efforts in Santa Fe, really wonderful programs like art week, that try to take the art into schools. You believe in those and the value of them?
FENN: I certainly do. The more we
EEDS: Have you done it with your children, grandchildren?
FENN: Sure, let’s get our kids involved in something. We’re sitting on the couch too much. We’re playing with our little hand machines too much.
EEDS: Video games.
FENN: Mika’s guilty of that, aren’t you Mika?
MIKA: I am, unfortunately. I put it away when I come to your house though.
FENN: Well if you get out in the sunshine it serves a lot of things. First of all, you can lose some weight if you need to do that, you can observe nature, you can… the smells are good and the hikes are good and we need to get out of the house more.
EEDS: Alright this new book, you hope to come out in 30 days, how will it come out? Will it come out online, will it be in print, will it be in bookstores? Collected Works? What are you going to do?
FENN: All of that.
EEDS: Do you do e-books?
FENN: No, I don’t do e-books. Primarily, my books are picture books, so it’s hard for e-books to come out, but, the Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe handles all my books. They’ll have it and we’ll sell it online and ship it
EEDS: Let us know when it’s done and we’ll put it on Santa Fe dot com and however we can help spread the word.
FENN: Do you have any money? Can you afford to buy one?
EEDS: I don’t have thirty cents on me. Dina’s got money though. Dina’s got all the money in this studio.
EEDS: Hey I really - it’s been a blast. I hope that, you know, you didn’t mind that hour went really fast. You’re a pleasure to talk to.
FENN: Well, thank you, sir. That’s nice Mr. Eeds, I appreciate that.
EEDS: Have a great weekend, and um, come back any time you want. Bring him back Mika, will you?
MIKA: I’ll do my best.
EEDS: When the book comes out
MIKA: I’m the driver, so I’ll get him here.
EEDS: Yeah, I bet. And you’re still looking for anybody that has a 1935 Plymouth
FENN: Two door Plymouth, sure.
EEDS: Doesn’t have to be the deluxe. Just has to be the standard.
FENN: It has to be drivable.
EEDS: Has to be - has to run.
FENN: I have to show it off around Santa Fe.
EEDS: You know, it doesn’t have to run right now, but a little battery, a little air in the tires, you know, fixable. Email Forrest. Go to his website. Which is, once again old santa fe...
FENN: trading co
EEDS: trading co dot com. Right. They can find you through that. If you can find a ‘35 Plymouth, send him some good pictures, and make a good deal, right?
FENN: That’s right.
EEDS: Like you said, you never haggled for anything, you always overpaid.
FENN: If somebody can find me a 1935 Plymouth, I’ll buy them a hot dog. They can have mustard, relish, whatever they want.
EEDS: Thanks for coming by, Forrest. Mika, thanks for driving.
MIKA: Thank you.
EEDS: Alright, have a great weekend. Coming up next Julie Goldberg show. It is coming up on eleven o’clock. We’ll see you Monday morning, bright and early seven o’clock. By the way, great show on Monday. We’ll have the owner of the Violet Crown theater, also Al Dusare, you know Al? The guy who used to own Maria’s?
EEDS: He’ll be here.
FENN: I know Al.
EEDS: He’s a pain in the butt, that guy. As well as Ray Sandoval. Will make a big announcement on Monday as well. Be back Monday. Have a great weekend everybody. KVSF 101.5 the Voice of Santa Fe.
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A lot of the most important things that I've done in my life, they may not be important by some standards but important to me, are things that I thought of myself. I decided in 1975 that I was going to go to Russia at the height of the Cold War, borrow a bunch of paintings from the Russian government, bring them to my gallery in Santa Fe and open a show. Everybody laughed at me. But I had a couple of hole cards. I knew Armand Hammer, he knew the Russian Minister of Culture. I could operate back and forth through Occidental Petroleum. He had a Telex, that was before faxes or anything like that. And I met Madame Betrova and I made a handshake deal with her at a circus one night in Moscow that we would have a five-year cultural exchange program. And I went to either eight or nine Russian museums and picked out 36 Fechin paintings painted in Russia with the Russian signature or no signature. I brought them to my gallery and opened a show there. And when I had those paintings hanging in my gallery I did not have a signed contract with the Russian government, including the big portrait of Lenin, 50 by 60-inch portrait of Lenin, a national treasure. And Madame Betrova, I called Madame Betrova on the phone, I said how do you want me to insure these paintings. I had a wonderful relationship with you. Do you know what she said? Forrest, you know more about that than I do. You put a valuation on them. Good lord. The deal was that she pays for everything that costs rubles because it was against the law for a ruble to leave Russia and I'd pay for everything that cost dollars. So I pick all these paintings out, they get on the airplane, land at JFK, State Department's mad at me because they don't know what's going on. They call me on the phone, Forrest these Russian nationals are getting off this airplane. I demand to know what's going on down there in Santa Fe. You know, I tried to get the State Department to give me some money because they had a detente program going on where they were trying to improve relationships with Russia but they wouldn't let me have any of that money. It was laying there but I couldn't have any of it. So I decided I'd pay for it myself. But because I've got to do everything and you're not gonna help me I'm not gonna tell you want I'm doing. And I didn't. And I hate to tell you this story but there was an undersecretary of state or something, big shot. I wouldn't take their calls but my secretary came to me and said Forrest you should take this call. She said it's an undersecretary. Well I didn't, under what? I mean is this guy a big shot or not. She said yeah he's a big shot. And he started in on me, just giving me hell for… are you running the federal government? I mean who do you think you are down there in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I said listen, why don't you pull out all those letters that I wrote trying to get you to help me and after you come up to speed I said call me back. I said I may take your call and I may not. And he hung up the phone and I got all these paintings and I had in order to get the paintings I had to hire a Russian curator. His name was Slava Titov. I had to furnish him with transportation and a place to live because he accompanied the paintings over here. They were not framed. They took the frames apart. A frame comes in four parts. So you screw it together and you put the painting in it and he had to do that because that was one of the requirements and I said okay. So we're doing that, it cost me a bunch of money and Peggy said did you invite Madame Betrova to the opening? You know I didn't even think about it. So I called her on the phone and it was three o'clock in the morning where she was but it was an okay time for me. She said why are you calling me at three o'clock in the morning. I said well I want to invite you to our show. She said okay I'll be there and she hung up the phone. I mean that's the kind of relationship we had. She was the greatest. She went on the Today Show. I had given her a Zuni pen inlaid with turquoise and jade and coral and different things, a pretty little pen. And she was on the Today Show I think with Diane Sawyer or somebody and Diane Sawyer says, oh Madame Betrova where did you get that lovely pen. She said Forrest Fenn from the prestigious Fenn Galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico gave this to me. God there went $150,000 worth of advertising for free. But anyway we had a good relationship; and she came to the opening. And when we were hanging the paintings on the wall Slava Titov was working with a couple of my guys. An FBI agent came up from someplace, Albuquerque I guess, and I think the State Department had called him, and he told me who he was and he said he was mad. They were hanging that big portrait and he said what are you going to do Mr. Fenn when some militant comes in here with a knife and slashes that painting from one side to the other? What are you going to tell the Russian government? I said, well, it really made me mad. I tried not to show it but I said, sir, two things come to mind immediately. First one is when the president of the United States calls me on the phone and asks me what happened I am going to tell him that I tried to get you to help me and you wouldn't. I said, secondly I can hardly wait. I'm going to make the cover of Time magazine, I'm going to get all this publicity and I'm going to sell a bunch of paintings. I said if you want to send some guys up here to my opening and stand around you can do that. I said but don't come up here getting in my way. I mean you had your chance to help me and you wouldn't so, just you're standing in my sunshine I told him. I think there were some FBI agents there or something but they didn't talk to me and I was arrogant but I was mad. You know I hate bureaucracies. If a job can be done by 2 people they've got 15 people doing it and none of them do it right. There's never time to do it right but there's always time to do it over. Explain this to me. I can make it work if you'll get out of my way. Just move over. And then I sent the paintings to the Frye Museum in Seattle, to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming and then I sent home and then I sent them 36 Fechin paintings that were painted in this country with the English signature. Worked like clockwork.
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Forrest Fenn on Kids at San Lazaro
FORREST FENN: Every year, for the past 14 years, we’ve had teenagers from Wyoming. Some of them are really good kids, some of them are pretty good kids, and some of them are not too good kids. We’ve had parole officer's permission to bring some of them down here. We’re trying to turn them around. We have a problem in this country with our youth and that’s where our future is. And yet, archeologists particularly, everybody loves archeologists. Archeologists are not doing nearly enough with their outreach programs to help us turn around the kids that are - drive by shootings, graffiti on the wall, teenage pregnancies, I could go on and on and on. They’re in the headlines of every newspaper, but nobody’s doing anything about it. About three years ago, I was sitting in a room that was almost excavated. We were down about four feet, The walls were beautiful. We had screened all the dirt, and we were taking it out. You uncover the dirt with a trowel looking for whatever might be there. And then when you get a pile of dirt, you put it in a bucket and you go up the ladder, you give it to a couple more kids and they screen it looking for things that we’d lost. Well I was sitting there, this little 13 year old girl, she was a little girl from Chugwater, Wyoming, or Wheatland, or one of those towns. I was sitting in the shade with my hat on drinking a Coca-Cola and she was out in the sun because that’s where she had to dig. We were talking about things, and she moved her trowel a little bit, and she turned over the most beautiful little mountain lion fetish about that big, with turquoise eyes. And she looked at me, and she looked at it. And I looked at her, and I looked at it. And she was scared to death. She didn’t - I said, pick it up. And she just sat there, you know, she wasn’t ready for that. This was an extraordinary event in her life and my life, and the life of everybody else out there. But she picked it up, and one of the eyes fell out. One of the turquoise fell out, so I put it in a little Ziploc bag, and I removed the other eye because it had been glued in with pinon pitch as mastic. I separated those eyes, but I marked them which eye goes in which side and when I got home I glued those things back in just like they were. But the point was, history was coming alive. And that same little girl, we were screening, we were under a shelter because it was a hot day and the guys come up and they dump half a bucket of dirt in the screen and we shake it, and then we very carefully go through picking out 50 little pieces of pottery and some lithics and different things, pieces of bones - bones of little dead animals you know. Mice and squirrels and things that punctuate that entire pueblo. I was telling this little girl about the Spanish. They came in this country in 1540 and Coronado didn’t have wagons because there were no roads, so all the things they brought in, they had to bring on their back and horseshoes were heavy, so they didn't bring horseshoes, but they brought nails. And when the nails wore down, they took the horseshoe off and put the same shoe back on but with new nails. They had a system. It worked well. And, I could see year, (eyes rolling) yeah - this guy’s telling me these things. And we’re shaking the screen and she picked up a religious medallion. It said Roma on it. It was cast. And I explained to her - she looked at me and she said, “Mr. Fenn, the Spanish really were here weren’t they?” She wouldn’t believe a word I said, until she picked up that medallion. I explained to her that it had a date on it, but the date didn’t mean the date that it was made. It meant the date of some important event. But the fact that it said Roma on it means that it was made in Italy. It had to be taken personally in front of the Pope and blessed, along with another 10,000 or they couldn’t put the word Roma on it. And then somehow it got into the hands of the Spanish either sold or traded or something. The Spanish brought it to Puerto Vallarta up to Camina Royale up to San Lazaro Pueblo. And all of the sudden, history comes alive for this little girl, and she said, “Mr. Fenn, the Spanish really were here, weren’t they?” I had been talking to her for an hour about that, and she didn’t believe a word I had said, but she believed me after that. I mean, I sound like I’m a genius. I don’t have the slightest idea what I’m talking about but you learn things. Every time you do something. When you touch a hot stove, you learn something about that, and sometimes you remember it, hopefully. History is something that I’ve been a part of, and studied, and I can remember a lot about history because it’s something that doesn’t just pass through my mind, it grabs a hold on the way through and I can remember those things.