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Interesting to consider what you would do if you found it? Presumably you're in the wilderness with a 40 pound chest. Your car might be fairly near, as Fenn makes clear when he notes he was 80 when he made "two trips from my vehicle" to the site. So if you're fit or have help you can probably get it back to the car (40 pounds is a lot to carry in hiking terrain). What happens once you do? How do you claim title to it? Who owns the land it is on? If it's not Fenn's land you might have a problem with the owner, be it a private or public entity. If you were to get pulled over with that chest in the car and the police discovered it I think the chances of confiscation are high. Probably finding it would only be the first of many problems.

It's abandoned property, where the only person with a colorable claim obviously, publicly, notoriously, and intentionally relinquished it. It will depend a little bit on the laws of the state where it is found, but in general, if you find it, it is yours.

When you attempt to sell bits of it, dealers in e.g. gold coins might ask you the provenance, and then you say "It was the Fenn horde", and you probably show the photo you took on your camera phone because you're presumably smart enough to do that, and that's the end of that conundrum.

I'm not a lawyer, however I know that anything of value like this that is found on public land can have some complications, and if the land is private that's another whole ball of wax. If it is Fenn's land and he's living still, no problem obviously. If it's not his land and his other statements are true then the landowner doesn't know it's there.

1) Mark the location by GPS coordinates, write it down in a few safe places, get back to civilization and make a plan

2) Hike out the hoard in several batches

3) If you are a particularly paranoid sort of person, unless the coins are worth significantly more by their rarity value, buy a $2000 furnace and crucible and melt them down into bars. Sell the bars at a slight loss below the value of 99.999% purity.

This is not how physical gold works. My understanding is that it's tightly regulated with unique identifiers for all ingots, bars, etc and the ownership of each being recorded so there is an audit trail if a diluted bar or ingot is found later. I assume freshly mined gold has to go through some type of formal lab validation / certification for purity that puts it into this identification scheme. I expect nobody will touch your homebrew gold bars lacking this identification, even at a steep discount, worse still for you, these unofficial gold bars are even easier to track and trace due to lacking official serial numbers and certification.

All of this isn't to say you couldn't "find a way" to get spendable money out of finding this stash, more so a question of staying on the right side of money laundering and taxation laws while doing so.

My understanding is that it's tightly regulated with unique identifiers for all ingots, bars, etc and the ownership of each being recorded so there is an audit trail if a diluted bar or ingot is found later.

Do you have a source for this? My understanding is there is almost no tracking whatsoever of gold. Yes, if you brought in a new poured ingot, someone will want to confirm the purity, but there are no required identification stamps on gold that connect it with an owner (some gold dealer may add them voluntarily). Dealer will be happy to pay cash as long as they know they aren't get scammed.

My father in law buys gold coins all the time. They are all identical and there is no way to determine ownership. You can buy and sell in cash. No questions asked.

Now, if you went to gold dealer and tried to offload $1M worth of unmarked gold ingots, you're risking a call to the police who will ask you where it came from. But beyond that, it's a pretty unregulated market.

It's surprisingly unregulated. I haven't heard of anyone melting stuff down, but thieves commonly sell jewelry to different buyers, who are only concerned about the quality and will take any ID details, fake or not. One guy said he can carry gold across borders in liquid form (I'm assuming aqua regia?) so he can sell it for a higher price.

You absolutely can sell unmarked gold, but at a lower price than, for example, Canadian mint gold coins. You may need to pay for an assay to prove its purity.

Edit: Google "gold scrap refining", it is not an uncommon thing.

It's very easy to test the purity of Gold because it is so dense. Simply place the ingot in water an measure the displacement since 1ml = 1cc. Unless you are dealing with high-end fakes that combine alloys to match the profile of Gold, this is a fairly safe method.

Become a jeweler. Problem solved.

You could melt it down into rudimentary jewelry and then perhaps sell that to gold buyers, who don't have to report <$10K transactions to the IRS

Transactions above $600 are reported to the IRS on form 1099 MISC.

You're thinking of the bank account deposit reporting threshold.

The 10K limit actually applies to buying gold but what you said is flat out wrong

"Gold and silver jewelry, like bullion, is also considered a collectible. So if you sell your bullion jewelry for a profit, it is subject to the same maximum 28% capital gains rate for precious metals and must be reported on your income tax return. Current law does not require that dealers report jewelry sales, even when dealing with 22K or 24K bullion-grade pieces, or in quantities above the 25 ounce limits applied to bars and many coins."

What you said is actually flat out wrong and you're trying to argue with a tax lawyer over something you clearly don't understand.

If you pay a US person at least $600 in the year, you must report that to the IRS on a Form 1099, usually a 1099-MISC. You don't report individual transactions, you simply report all of the income paid to that person over the course of the tax year. (For foreign persons, the form is the 1042-S, and there is no minimum threshold.)

Like the comment I was replying to, you both are conflating the anti-laundering reporting rules with the IRS income tax reporting rules.

Packing at least that much weight out a considerable distance of wilderness, knowing what land you're looking on and being able to contact the land owner, and having appropriate documentation in the event that you're stopped by police are essentially solved problems for anyone who hunts in the Rockies. I would think this is worth any additional inconvenience considering it's for a millionaire's buried treasure instead of a year's supply of an acquired taste in meat.

Emulate the 'Saddle Ridge Hoard' couple. They were smart about it when they found those 8 cans in Gold Country. They picked out a firm of coin experts (Kagin's) to represent them, and to stay anonymous.


Wasn't that hoard located on their own property? I think that simplifies the provenance issue significantly.

It was on their property ... they said. But look at the story closely and it was very closely checked against many possibilities. SFGate ran a great article on that in 2014: https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Black-Bart-Jesse-James-W...

I would probably immediately contact a lawyer if I found it

> How do you claim title to it

It would certainly be easier if Fenn is still alive. The last line of the poem says...If you are brave and in the wood, I give you title to the gold.

Vehicle could mean anything, there are plenty of trails a heavily modded Jeep or Off Road vehicle can do but not a car.

I for sure would not tell anyone about it.

If you intend to keep it "as is", it's not a problem.

But you would need to if you want it for it's moneytary value. Even selling in piece by piece on a black market, which is quite hard to do, will require you to advertise it.

However my guess is that whoever is smart enough to find it is smart enough to solve this problem as well.

Contact a lawyer that normally deals with lotto winners to help setup the right entities (probably an LLC) to own the treasure. This protects you incase someone decides to sue you. Depending on the state, you can claim someone else as a nominee manager of the LLC so your name stays off anything public. You'll still have to pay taxes on the find and then taxes on any capital gains you get from selling treasure. It might even be better to hold onto the treasure and sell off bits as needed instead of trying to flip the whole thing. I know capital gains taxes favor long term investments although he price of gold might fluctuate enough for you to technically lose money (meaning no taxes on the sale). There are a whole host of scenarios that can liquidate your treasure fast or slow, cheap or expensive but it all depends on your state and the market.

And let the other people spend their time in fruitless search forever? Not very nice.

That's an argument you ought to bring up to Mr. Fenn - since it appears that an eternal search was more or less what he was going for:

> He has also affirmed that hiding the treasure in the first place was largely about encouraging families to enjoy the 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.”

it's that or get harassed/sued/etc. they have to know this is a possibility, and they're responsible adults

Also, security. If you were a local you might think of beating up the tired guy coming out of the woods with a big heavy box. You'd have to have other people there to provide security at the least.

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