The Unsolved Mystery of The Golden Owl

On the Trail of the Golden Owl (translated from French) is a treasure hunting book written by Max Valentin (a pseudonym for Régis Hauser), whose final clue is yet to be solved. The book, which was first published in 1993 contained 11 clues for locating the golden owl. Each clue includes a title, text and an illustration drawn by an artist, Michel Becker. The Golden Owl was Max Valentin's first treasure hunt. He first thought of the puzzle in the late 1970s, and spent 450 hours designing eleven textual riddles, which together hold the clues to a final location and a cache, somewhere in France.

In 1993, the golden owl was estimated at 150,000 euros. A legal protector holds it, in Paris. Becker also created a replica made of bronze, which was buried somewhere in France by Hauser on the night of the 23 April 1993. The treasure hunt was launched on 15 May 1993.

Valentin designed the hunt to last for a few months and to be solvable by experts or amateurs. He also included false trails in the riddles, which he admitted was normal in treasure hunt games, but later he regretted putting too much work into. He estimated that the hunt would last between four months and a year.

Many treasure-hunters believe that the final zone is the township of Dabo, Moselle. They have identified it based on links between the riddles (the 500 spiral found on the precise map, the height of the Apollo arrow), and some clever interpretations of the riddles (alternate targets for the 560). The area itself has been explored, but nothing significant has been discovered. The identification of Dabo occurred at the same time as explorations of Mont Saint-Michel and Notre Dame de Paris, and though Max Valentin dismissed the latter two places he did not unambiguously dismiss Dabo.

As of 2016, the "final zone" of the hunt has not been definitely identified, and the location of the buried treasure remains a mystery. It is by far the longest-running contest in the armchair treasure hunt genre.


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