An estimated 350,000 people have gone hunting for a treasure that former Vietnam fighter pilot and art dealer Forrest Fenn claimed to have hidden in the Rocky Mountains in 2010. However, all of them returned empty-handed. In order to lend future treasure-hunters a helping hand, Fenn recently revealed a vital clue in locating his fortune.

“Read the clues in my poem over and over and study maps of the Rocky Mountains,” 86-year-old Fenn recently told Business Insider. “Try to marry the two. The treasure is out there waiting for the person who can make all the lines cross in the right spot.”

The poem in question is a 24-line mind boggling riddle he wrote in his self-published memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase,” which he also later uploaded on his Instagram account.

The much-hyped treasure is a chest, almost a square foot in size and weighing 40 pounds when full, and is allegedly filled with emeralds, rubies, gold coins and diamonds. After Fenn was diagnosed with cancer in 1988, he decided to fill the chest with all the artefacts he had amassed during his own explorations in the Southwest, drag it to the mountains and die beside it, CNBC reported. 

However, he survived the deadly illness, after which he abandoned the plan and left the chest in a walk-in vault at his house for years. In the wake of the Great Recession, he decided to hide the treasure roughly 1,000 miles between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Canadian border and announced the launch of the hunt.

“Lots of people [were] losing their job, despair was written all over the headlines, and I just wanted to give some people hope,” he told ABC News

However, he had an ulterior motive behind launching a nationwide treasure hunt – he wanted to encourage families to go on fun adventure trips outdoors.

“I wanted to give the kids something to do,” he said. “They spend too much time in the game room or playing with their little hand-held texting machines. I hope parents will take their children camping and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. I hope they will fish, look for fossils, turn rotten logs over to see what’s under them, and look for my treasure.”

However, just because the search is “supposed to be fun,” it does not mean Fenn was going to make it an easy ride for the aspiring treasure hunters. This is why he has not divulged the secret location of his fortune even to his wife.

“If I die tomorrow, the knowledge of that location goes in the coffin with me.”

And seeing as Fenn is 86 years old, that day might come sooner than later.

So, has anyone managed to get close to figuring out the treasure’s location? Unfortunately, according to Fenn, there is no way to know if a person came within inches of his treasure unless they actually find it.

“It could be found soon or 1,000 years from now,” he said.

Despite the fact that eager treasure hunters have been unable to locate the loot for the last 18 years, the obsession in people has only increased. Online forums have been established where treasure enthusiasts regularly post theories on the probable location of the valuables, making Fenn go on record to debunk some of them.

“The treasure chest is not under water, nor is it near the Rio Grande River. It is not necessary to move large rocks or climb up or down a steep precipice,” he has been quoted as saying in the past.

Fenn has also received death threats regarding his treasure.

“This one guy called me,” Fenn said. “He said, ‘Tell me where the treasure is right now. I’m going to kill you.’”

The art dealer also had to go through moral dilemma of whether to end the hunt when four hunters died during their search for the treasure. However, Fenn decided to let the hunt continue.

Treasure An estimated 350,000 people have gone hunting for the treasure that Forrest Fenn claimed to have hidden in the Rocky Mountains. In this photo, a British diamond dealer inspects a raw diamond on the trading floor of Israel's diamond exchange in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, Oct. 30, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/ Nir Elias