Anyone weighing a potential investment must calculate its risk-to-reward ratio. Can this item generate returns that make buying it worth it, and if it doesn't, can you handle the downside?
Risk can entail unusual things, such as becoming part of an investment's grisly history. A few treasures, curios and keepsakes have become the stuff of legend, as one owner after another has fallen prey to bad luck—with sometimes-fatal results.
These treasures are rumored to be cursed or haunted. That can't be proved, of course, so every such case resides in the limbo of urban legend and ancient superstition. Nonetheless, many of them have track records that even the most entrenched skeptic might find hard to ignore.
Read ahead and find out about valuable treasures that have been said to provide more of a return on investment than their owners bargained for.
The Hope Diamond is probably the most famous jewel rumored to be cursed. The 45.52 carat gem has had a succession of owners dating back to the 17th century, and as noted in an article in the Jan. 29, 1911, edition of The New York Times, many of them suffered an untimely demise.
The owners included Prince Ivan Kanitovski, who was killed by Russian revolutionaries; Simon Mencharides, who died with his wife and child in a car accident; and French diamond merchant Jean Baptiste Tavernier, who was "torn to pieces by wild dogs in Constantinople," the Times said.
The article was prompted by the purchase of the diamond by Edward "Ned" McLean for more than $300,000 ($7.4 million today). It was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in the late 1950s.
"The Hands Resist Him"
"The Hands Resist Him" is a 1972 painting by California artist Bill Stoneham. According to his website, both the owner of the gallery that displayed the painting and the Los Angeles Times art critic who reviewed it were dead within one year of the exhibit.
According to the BBC News, the work was listed on eBay in 2000 by a seller claiming that the image had changed overnight, a phenomenon allegedly captured by her husband on webcam. It sold for $1,050, more than five times its $199 opening price. U.K.-based writer Darren K. O'Neill is developing a film based on its story.
The Koh-i-Noor diamond is a 105-carat gem first recorded in a 14th-century Hindu text. According to The Sunday Times of India, the text carries a dire warning.
"He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity."
Victims of the alleged curse are said to have included the son of Mughal Emperor Babur, who was exiled from his kingdom; Shah Jahan, who was imprisoned by his son; and Nadir Shah, who was assassinated.
The gem became property of the British royal family in the 19th century and is on display at the Tower of London.
The Treasures of Tutankhamun's Tomb
Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh whose tomb was discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter. It contained vast treasure, including the golden death mask that has become a symbol of ancient Egypt. But some believe that its discovery was accompanied by a deadly curse.
Victims included 12 members of Carter's crew and George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who financed the excavation and died of blood poisoning less than a year later. Carter, however, lived another 16 years, reinforcing opposition to the myth.
The "Amityville Horror" House
The house at 112 Ocean Ave. in Amityville, N.Y., was the site of a mass slaying in November 1974.
A year after that, George and Kathy Lutz moved in with their children but moved out less than a month later, citing paranormal phenomena. Their version of events inspired the 1977 book "The Amityville Horror" and the 1979 movie of the same name.
The house remains an object of mystery, but no one who has owned it since the Lutzes' hasty exit has cited any supernatural occurrences, including James Cromarty, who bought it in 1977 and lived in it for 10 years.
It was last sold in October 2010 for $950,000, according to the real estate website Zillow.com.
Click here to see the full slideshow: Cursed and Haunted Treasures
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