The legal status of the Golden Owl prize

This treasure hunt was set up in 1993, and the book’s publisher has since gone out of business, and Max Valentin, the designer of the puzzle, and co-author of the Chouette d’Or book, has died.

The original rules of the puzzle state there is no time limit to the game. ‘ It is not limited in time, but will be closed the day of the discovery of the cache.’

The rules also state, ‘The Prize is a statuette of gold, silver and stones, representing an owl sculpted by Michel Becker. Its value is about one million francs. In no case can it be exchanged for its cash value.

The rules continue, ‘The book provides the clues needed to solve the riddle. The first person who has deciphered the final enigma to locate the cache is deemed to be the winner.’

In October 2021 Michel Becker, the book’s illustrator, was given contractual control of the treasure hunt by the descendents of Max Valentin. His Editions de la Chouette d’Or company is now running the hunt, and there are clear rules on their website, and a bailiff, Maitre Blanche Neige-Schmitt, overseeing the hunt to ensure the fair enforcement of the rules. You can read a translated copy of the rules here, or learn more about the handover of the game to Michel Becker here.