Forest Fenn’s infamous treasure hunt is still digging up conflict.
A devoted discoverer who allegedly spent big bucks chasing the chest of gold and jewels Fenn hid in the Rocky Mountains in 2010 — sparking a years-long pursuit which left five people dead — claims her rep has been ruined by an author who described her as “bankrupt” in a book about the treasure hunt.
Stephanie Thirtyacre is suing Daniel Barbarisi and Penguin Random House over the tome “Chasing the Thrill: Obsession, Death and Glory in America’s Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt.”
Thirtyacre launched a blog about the hunt called ChaseChat and wrote a book contending Fenn could be DB Cooper, the mysterious figure who hijacked a plane in 1971, demanded $200,000 cash, and disappeared into the Pacific Northwest after jumping out of the plane.
Thirtyacre claims she “expressly forbid” Barbarisi from using her name.
“She would eventually spend well into six figures on fruitless searches, go bankrupt, and see her marriage crumble as a direct result of her involvement in the chase,” Barbarisi wrote of Thirtyacre, who said in Manhattan Supreme Court papers that she’s not filed for bankruptcy.
A search of court records showed no bankruptcy filing for Thirtyacre, who told The Post through her attorney that her financial state is “just fine. I pay all my bills and have zero debt and never filed for bankruptcy.”
The Florida woman insisted Barbarisi agreed to give her confidentiality, and that she didn’t know he too was hunting for Fenn’s treasure.
“I felt very comfortable sharing things with Dan, under this confidentiality and even shared possible solutions [to the treasure hunt]. I had no idea until his book came out that he was also considered a searcher and was not just under the journalist umbrella,” she said.
The author never promised Thirtyacre that he wouldn’t use her name, and used the term “bankrupt” in a “colloquial” way, a lawyer for the publisher told her, according to a letter included in her legal filing, which seeks unspecified damages.
The hunt for Fenn’s treasure ended in the summer of 2020, when a medical student said he found it. Fenn died in September 2020 at age 90 after a fall in his home.
Thirtyacre’s claim is “meritless,” a lawyer for Penguin Random House and Barbarisi said, calling the book “deeply researched and responsibly reported.”
“Multiple sources, including Forrest Fenn himself, corroborated that Ms. Thirtyacre exhausted her savings pursuing the treasure,” attorney Daniel Novack said in a statement.