Thousands of hunters have gone in search of a treasure that could be worth over $257,000. But after an accidental death (and a legal battle over the solutions), conspiracies swirl around the coveted statue: Does the golden owl even exist at all? https://t.co/aVxP2HBOr1— Atlas Obscura (@atlasobscura) September 18, 2023
In 1993, marketing consultant Régis Hauser and artist Michel Becker launched a treasure hunt for a buried bronze owl. The person to find the owl would win its golden twin, an owl sculpted in gold and silver, encrusted with diamonds, worth around a quarter million dollars today. Becker created the owls, and Hauser designed the treasure hunt, which could be solved with eleven clues revealed in a book titled On the Trail of the Golden Owl. Hauser suspected that it would take a few months, a year at most, for someone to find it. Thirty years later, no one has.
But the story has many twists and turns. Along the way, the jewelry company the promotion was meant to promote dropped out and never even opened a store. The golden owl was seized in a bankruptcy case. Becker, the artist, managed to get it back when he found out years later. Then Hauser died suddenly in 2009. His heirs wanted nothing to do with the treasure hunt, and Becker didn't know where the owl was buried. He eventually got Hauser's files, but they weren't easy to decipher. Meanwhile, thousands of treasure hunters became very invested in the hunt. You can see a trail of lawsuits forming in this story. But that's just the bare overview! Read the full story of the hunt for the Golden Owl, the world's longest completely unsolved treasure hunt, at Atlas Obscura.
PS: The clues are online.