A book published today (March 25) will give clues to the hidden location of a statue worth €50,000, hidden somewhere in France.
The book, L'Or de Sipán, is published by Les Editions du trésor, a publishing house with a history of hiding treasure.
Julien Alvarez, founder of the publishing house, told FranceInfo the statue was hidden on public ground, and that treasure hunters did not need any particular tools to find it.
He said: “Your mind and a bit of luck should be enough.”
30-year hunt for owl statue continues
Mr Alvarez himself has been participating in a literary treasure hunt, along with thousands of other people for the past 30 years.
In April 1993 author Max Valentin (real name Régis Hauser) hid a small bronze statue of an owl somewhere in mainland France, shortly before his book Sur La Trace de La Chouette d'Or (The Hunt for The Golden Owl) was published by Les Editions du trésor.
It contains 11 riddles to solve in order to find the owl, with a hidden 12th riddle made up of parts of the previous 11 revealing its exact location.
It has never been found, despite continued interest in its whereabouts by chouetteurs - treasure hunters looking for the statue.
Official group l'Association des chercheurs de la Chouette d'or has 150 members and Facebook group La Chouette d’or has 1,300 members, all searching for the owl.
The bronze owl statue hidden by Mr Valentin (@ResidencesArt / Twitter)
Thousands expected to join new hunt
Gérard Simon, president of the association, plans to join in the hunt for the new statue.
He told FranceInfo: “I can work on a treasure hunt for half a day without stopping.
“When I go for a walk, I start thinking about clues and get back into it.”
Members of the Facebook group also plan to get involved.
One, from Paris, told FranceInfo she started to get interested in treasure hunts as a distraction during the first Covid lockdown.
Now, she said: “I feel like a knight of the round table, searching for the holy grail.”
Mr Alvarez predicted that tens of thousands of people would join in the hunt for the new treasure, and estimated it would be found in the next two years.
But when asked for an extra clue as to its whereabouts he stayed silent.
“I’ll reveal nothing, even under torture,” he said.