wonder • wander
a collection of thoughts, musings, and milestones
Recently, a feature writer from New York Magazine called. He wanted to interview me for an article he was researching about my former employer, Forrest Fenn, art dealer and author of “The Thrill of the Chase”. Forrest’s photo-filled memoir included a poem offering intriguing clues to a treasure chest filled with gold and valuable artifacts that he claimed to have hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Several people lost their lives in pursuit of the loot. Threats and lawsuits were detailed in the news. For years, the treasure eluded the treasure hunters.
Was it a trick or the truth? After all, Forrest was a consummate showman and trickster. I can attest to that.
In the late 1970s, I served as the director of research at Fenn Gallery. One day, Forrest popped in to my office and handed me one of his personal note cards, the size of a business envelope. “From the Cluttered Mind of Forrest Fenn” was printed at the top of the card. In brown ink, Forrest had drawn a Picasso-esque image of a man’s head. Next to the head, in his distinctive hand, he had written, “Do Unto Others, Then Bug The Hell Out.” I remember putting that “work of art” in a file somewhere. I wish I could remember where…
At the fancy book launch for “The Thrill of the Chase”, I stood with Forrest and a crowd of his fans and followers. He put his arm around my shoulder and announced to the fawning and adoring group, in a winkingly boastful voice, “I taught her everything she knows.” (long pause for effect) “but not everything I know.”
Shortly before he died, Forrest announced that the treasure had been found. Very little proof was shared. Theories abound.
Forrest Fenn was a valuable mentor of mine at the beginning of my thirty-three-year career. He and his action-packed, treasure-filled gallery awakened a passion in me that had lain hidden somewhere in the depths of my undiscovered self. He kickstarted me onto my long and winding art dealer’s path; a path filled with all manner of business peaks and valleys. I’m grateful to have experienced that information-filled year as his eager learner.
Wherever you are, Forrest, I hope you’re astonishing the crowds!
Click the image below to read the article...
"Fenn took a roguish approach to life and to facts. “It doesn’t matter who you are; it only matters who they think you are,” he once said. Linda Durham, who interned with Fenn before going on to found her own contemporary-art gallery, recalls seeing an Egyptian sarcophagus displayed at Fenn Gallery with a sign that read DEACCESSIONED FROM THE BRITISH MUSEUM. She knew this to be a fiction. By sheer coincidence, the case had once belonged to her: A customer had given it to her when she was an Egyptology-interested Playboy Bunny. She’d had it X-rayed, and she knew it contained a mummified baby crocodile. After she sold it to a private collector, it eventually found its way to Fenn. When she pointed out that the British Museum story was false, he became angry. “He had no idea where that came from,” Durham says. "
Wonder & Wander
A collection of thoughts, musings, and milestones from author, wonderer, and wanderer, Linda Durham.
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Linda Durham is a human rights advocate, adventurer, author of Still Moving, The Trans-Siberian Railway Journey, An Art and Friendship Project, and a Sixties Manhattan Playboy Bunny. She is the founder and director of Santa Fe's Wonder Institute, which sponsors art exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and salons focused on discovering and implementing creative solutions to contemporary social and cultural issues. For more than three decades, Durham promoted New Mexico-based artists as the hands-on owner of contemporary art galleries in Santa Fe and New York.