@HiddenCash hits Huntington Library lot, attracting swarms of people

Robert Ramirez, 45, holds up $206 that he found in an envelope in a tree in the parking lot of the Huntington on Friday in San Marino.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

They came by the hundreds Friday, filling the Huntington Library parking lot in San Marino with enough excitement to power a residential block. Their mission, however, did not include seeing the latest exhibit. They were there for one thing only -- cash.

The latest spot to be picked by the mystery benefactor behind @HiddenCash, the expansive parking lot was swarming with people responding to the latest clue doled out on the Twitter account.

Within a half-hour of posting his clues, a helicopter, news vans and hoards of vehicles and people were focused on the library’s public parking lot.


“It was like a zombie eclipse was coming out here,” said Ricardo Gomez, the library’s security manager.

The library is no stranger to large crowds, he said, but this group was a different “kind of frenzy.”

Earlier Friday, the anonymous donor, who described himself as a wealthy real estate developer, urged his 348,000 Twitter followers to use “common sense and caution” as they search for his clues.

The notice came after hundreds of people flooded the Empire Center in Burbank on Thursday night in search of three hidden envelopes of cash. The frantic crowd was seen in video footage running through traffic, combing bushes and swarming a bus stop. At one point, a woman reportedly abandoned her car on a busy street to join the scavenger hunt.

The mystery donor has described himself as being between 35 and 45 years old and “old-school,” becoming active on Twitter only to carry out the scavenger hunt, which he said was his attempt to pay it forward in the hopes that others would do the same.

He first began hiding envelopes filled with cash last week in San Francisco. When his movement picked up steam, he continued the drops in San Jose and then moved to Los Angeles, where he plans to be active for several days.

Soraya Gonzalez of Azusa said the hidden cash movement is helping to bring people together who normally would have never interacted.

“I think it’s fun and exciting,” she said. “It gives you a good feeling.”

She was one of the lucky few who found one of the envelopes, which was hidden in a tree outside the library. Gonzalez is now $125 richer.

“You are not going to believe it, but I prayed for it,” she said.

While she wasn’t sure how she would spend the cash, Gonzalez said she is grateful the anonymous donor decided to make a few drops in Los Angeles, and definitely believes in paying it forward.

Robert Ramirez of South Pasadena tried to make it to Burbank for the scavenger hunt on Thursday, but was held up by traffic.

This time, the hunt was different. It was near his neighborhood and he was familiar with the library.

Determined to find the envelope, he headed to the parking lot and kept his focus on the trees lining the parking lot.

Soon after, he spotted the white envelope, which contained $206.

The new cash will be used to pay for his daughter’s water polo tuition, he said.