Ever heard anyone say “rich as Croesus”? That’s
because Croesus, the king of Lydia, who reigned
for 14 years in the 6th century BCE, was legendary
for his wealth. You might wonder what the
man did to protect his treasures. Well, rumor
has it that he used to put curses on his most
valuable belongings, including the infamous
King Croesus’s golden brooch, one of the most
precious items in his jewelry collection.
For hundreds of years, the treasure of King
Croesus lay underground, lost but not forgotten.
But one day in 1965, several men who lived
in the Turkish village of Güre came across
the ancient burial mound of a Lydian princess.
When the villagers dug it up, they were thrilled
to see gold and jewelry – it was the famous
treasure of King Croesus that had been buried
along with the princess.
The men didn’t excavate all the treasure at
once. Right after the discovery, they took
away all the jewelry they’d found in the
grave. In 1966, they robbed the rest of the
treasure, getting away with 150 artifacts;
mostly silver pots and gold jewelry. But that
wasn’t all! The villagers returned once again
in 1968, but didn’t find anything but wall
paintings. Among the artifacts they’d stolen,
there was a beautiful golden brooch in the
shape of a winged seahorse.
I bet the fortune seekers were sure that they’d
been extremely lucky to come across such a
fortune. They illegally sold the artifacts
to a smuggler and were prepared to lead a
happy and rich life. However, in no time,
the men realized that the fabled curse that’d
been put on the treasures and, in particular,
the brooch, 2,500 years ago, was far more
than just a superstition.
First, the thieves got caught by the police
after one of their own betrayed his accomplices,
unhappy with the way they’d divided the
treasure. After the police investigated, they
also got to the smuggler who turned out to
live in Izmir. But by that time, he’d already
sold the artifacts to different overseas buyers.
But being arrested wasn’t the only punishment
the thieves had to live through for their
crimes. One of the thieves lost his three
sons under different tragic circumstances.
Later, the man himself was paralyzed, and
passed away soon after. Another fortune seeker
went through a nasty divorce and the loss
of his only son. One more thief went nuts
and was telling people tales of how he had
40 barrels of gold that were hidden in a safe
place. As for the smuggler, his life didn’t
hold much happiness either. He went through
a series of terrible misfortunes and wasted
away in pain.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. In the
1970s, it was alleged that more than 200 items
from King Croesus’s treasure had been bought
by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art
around 1968. Turkish officials began a legal
process to retrieve the treasure in 1987,
a mere 3 days before the Metropolitan Museum
would become the rightful owner of the artifacts.
Eventually, after a 6-year legal battle that
was rumored to cost Turkey more than $30 million,
the museum admitted that while purchasing
the artifacts, they’d known that they’d
been stolen. That’s why the federal court
concluded that the treasure had to be returned
Sounds like a happy ending, right? Unfortunately,
it wasn’t. In 2006, 13 years after the artifacts
had been relocated, it turned out that the
famous golden seahorse brooch, which was on
display in Turkey’s Uşak Museum, was a fake!
During the investigation, the museum’s director
admitted that he’d sold the real brooch,
as well as some other artifacts, to cover
his gambling debts. He was sentenced to 13
years in jail. However, the director didn’t
blame his misfortune on his greediness. Nope,
he was sure that the brooch of King Croesus
was the reason for his downfall.
Well, who knows, maybe the ancient curse does
make sure everyone who disturbs the treasure
However, as you might guess, the golden brooch
of King Croesus isn’t the only jewelry item
that was believed to destroy its owners.
If you ever see the 67.5 carat (13 gr – 0.5
oz) Black Orlov Diamond, don’t touch it without
a pair of gloves on, or at all (better safe
than sorry, you know). That thing is as dangerous
as it is gorgeous. The diamond is often called
“The Eye of Brahma Diamond,” and for good
reason. Although it hasn’t been proved, some
people say that the gem was stolen from the
eye of the Hindu statue, Brahma, in Puducherry,
India. It was this theft that allegedly unleashed
a curse on the gemstone. As mystical as it
may sound, it would explain why a long line
of the diamond’s owners lost their lives in
In the 1940s, jeweler Charles F. Winston bought
the diamond and cut it into three pieces to
break the curse. Surprisingly, after that,
the string of mysterious deaths ended.
The name of the 105-carat (21 g – 0.7 oz)
Koh-i-Noor Diamond means “the mountain of
light.” Some written records state that when
it was still in its original, uncut form,
this gemstone was a staggering 739 carats
(150 gr – 5 oz), which is more than 5 oz!
Legend has it that the gem was also stolen
from its rightful owners in the 14th century.
Since then, rulers of different countries
have fought for the right to have the gem,
and it’s changed hands dozens of times.
But every single man who wore the diamond
lost his throne. Could it be because of the
warning the diamond held? It said, “He who
owns the diamonds owns the world, but he also
learns all its misfortunes. Only women can
wear it with impunity.”
Historical records show that after the British
got the diamond in 1849, and Queen Victoria
put it on in 1850, only royal ladies have
been wearing the gem. These days, you can
see the infamous jewel decorating a British
Monarchy Crown at the Jewel House of the Tower
The infamous Delhi Purple Sapphire is, actually,
an imposter. The truth is that despite its
name, it’s not a real sapphire. It’s an
amethyst – a kind of violet-hued quartz. Once
again, there’s not enough evidence to prove
the story, but as far as it goes, a British
soldier stole the stone from a temple in Kanpur,
India. Whether that’s true or not, Colonel
W. Ferris did bring the “sapphire” to England,
and while he had possession of the gem, his
family suffered from countless health and
Fed up with his misfortune and scared, he
presented the stone to writer and scientist
Edward Heron-Allen in 1890. But the writer
also noticed that he started to have bad luck
right after the gift arrived at his home.
He decided to give the stone to one of his
friends who was then struck with misfortune
as well, and returned the amethyst to Heron-Allen.
Boy, with friends like that, huh?
By that time, the writer was already sure
that the stone was cursed. He kept it in seven
boxes surrounded by charms bringing good luck.
After the man passed in 1943, his daughter
gave the amethyst to London’s Natural History
Museum. However, she warned the future owner
not to touch the Delhi Purple Sapphire with
The Star of India is the largest known blue
sapphire in the world. It’s said that some
mysterious circumstances surrounded the mining
of this 563-carat (112 gr – 4 oz) gem in Sri
Lanka about 300 years ago. People talked about
curses and spells that protected the sapphire.
However, the gem wasn’t world-known until
October 29, 1964. That’s when three jewel
thieves sneaked into the American Museum of
Natural History in New York and escaped with
more than $400,000 in stolen jewels (which
would be around $3 million nowadays). Among
those jewels was the Star of India. But the
most interesting part was how the criminals
managed to get hold of the most protected
gem in the whole museum. For one, the display
case alarm batteries had been dead for weeks.
Besides, the windows in the hall were open
to let the air in. And finally, the security
guard who’d been assigned to the room was
nowhere to be found. And now, brace yourself
– the gems weren’t even insured!
Just as miraculously, the thieves got caught
a couple days later, and most of the stolen
gems were recovered. As for the Star of India,
it was found in a bus station locker in Miami,
along with several other gems.
Wow! Do you believe in curses put to protect
treasures? Let me know down in the comments!
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