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Ghosts & Hauntings

Hope Diamond Curse

The ice blue fire of the stone once shone like a star on the forehead of an Indian temple statue until the day when it was ruthlessly torn out by a French adventurer. He would pay a high price for his actions and would later die painful death.  The stone would become known as the Hope Diamond but what it brought most of its owners was despair.

While the Hope Diamond is regarded as the most beautiful and precious diamond in the world – at the same time it is to be the most dangerous. Since its theft from India a deadly curse is to live on within it. European kings, the richest woman in America as well as other owners all suffered terrible bad luck: They went bankrupt, were murdered, committed suicide or died in an accident.

This is the beginning of the dark story of a famous as well as notorious gemstone, which we know as Hope Diamond.

The Hope Diamond is believed to have come from the Kallur mine in the Golconda Region, on the river Kistna, in southwest India. In 1642 it appeared for the first time in Europe in the possession of a French merchant named Jean-Baptist Tavernier, who is said to have stolen it from the headband of the statue of the goddess Sita consort of the god Rama.

In 1668 he sold the stone – now known as the Tavinier Blue – for a significant amount to King Louis XIV of France.  The diamond was originally 115 carats but was recut in the western style resulting in a 69 karat masterpiece called the “French Blue” which became part of the French crown jewels.

Jean-Baptist Tavernier was not able to enjoy his profit and, in the process of try to save his son from debtor’s jail, he himself lost much of his fortune.  In the hope of making up for his loss, Tavernier traveled to India. It was here that the curse struck again and after he died of a raging fever his body was torn to bits by a pack of wild dogs.

The Sun King (Louis XIV) himself died horribly of gangrene caused by an infected wound and all of his legitimate children died in childhood, except for one. (Anne-Élisabeth, Marie-Anne and Louis-François all died before the age of two.)

Nicholas Fouquet, who worked for King Louis XIV, wore the gem to a special occasion and wound up spending 15 years in a prison at the fortress of Pignerol.

The diamond, on the other hand, was passed from one king to the next, and each of these kings suffered a tragic fate.

King Louis XV is said not to have much liked the gemstone and wore it rarely.  Nevertheless the curse caught up with him and he contracted a virulent form of smallpox that turned every inch of his skin into a blackened scab of blood.  His death was said to be excruciatingly painful.

King Louis XVI lost a large part of his empire and later fell out of favour with the people of France. Both he and Marie Antoinette wore the jewel and died on the Guillotine during the French revolution.

Princess de Lamballe was a courtier of Marie Antoinette and would often handle the Hope Diamond and the Order of the Golden Fleece.  She was killed by a mob during the revolution in a most horrific fashion including being stripped, raped, beaten, tortured and eventually disemboweled.

The cursed diamond disappeared after the royal storehouse (the Garde-Meuble) was robbed in 1792.

There is a strong suggestion that it may have found its way to Queen Maria Louisa of Spain around 1800.  The curse followed quickly and she lost popularity with the people of Spain becoming one of the most hated people in the land.  In 1808 she and her husband were forced into exile shortly before Napoleon invaded Spain.

One version of the legend claims that Napoleon Bonaparte himself took the jewel from the Spanish around 1809 and from the moment he owned it all his military campaigns turned sour leading to the disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 and his ultimate defeat in 1813 when Paris fell to his enemies.  Napoleon would ultimately die as a prisoner on the island of St. Helena under mysterious circumstances after a horrible sickness – some say arsenic poisoning.  It’s been suggested that the stone was stolen from Napoleon’s treasury around 1810 and sold for a pittance to a string of middlemen.

The Hope Diamond seems to have resurfaced in the possession of a Dutch jeweler known as Wilhelm Fals sometime around 1810.   He drastically recut the diamond – possibly to disguise its origin.  The larger piece would later become known as the Hope Diamond.  This was soon stolen from him by his son Hendrik Fals who also murdered his fathered for good measure.  The legend states that Hendrik sold the stone to a French diamond merchant called Francis Beaulieu for a fraction of its value and used the money to live a life of sin and debauchery.  He was eventually driven mad by his own alcoholism, STD’s and guilt.  Hendrik Fals killed himself in 1830.

The size and style of the gem made it difficult to sell in France where it might still be linked to the robbery of the Garde-Meuble.  Together with an unknown French diamond cutter, Francis Beaulieu split off a small section of the stone and used this to fund a trip to London.  He struggled to find someone he trusted to buy the gem and became ever more impoverished, paranoid and physically wasted.  Eventually, he settled on Daniel Eliason a well-respected Hatton Garden jeweler.  He showed Eliason the stone and offered it for 5,000 pounds (around £200,000 today).  Eliason wanted time to think it over but when he went back the next day he found Francis Beaulieu dead on his bed.  The stone was clutched in Beaulieu’s hand but the young man was dead of starvation.  This was almost exactly 20 years after the robbery of the French Blue – just when the statute of limitations on the theft were expiring.

Some sources claim that Eliason sold the stone to King George III in 1814 where it became known as the ‘London Blue’.  If this is true it was bad luck for King George III.  His compulsive and unexplained madness returned and he was dead by 1820.  Some say the stone passed to King George IV who kept it for ten years until 1830.  During this time he became an alcoholic, possibly addicted to a heroin type drug called laudanum, so obese his cloths no longer fitted, partially blind from cataracts, mentally unstable and plagued by gout.

The stone eventually passed into the ownership of the rich banker Henry Philip Hope for £18,000.  Some believe it was sold off by George VI’s mistress, Lady Conyngham.  One version goes that George had left all his jewels to her in his will but for some reason she refused to take them.  Perhaps she had heard of the   curse and no longer wanted it anywhere near her. (She also needed money to pay off some of the King’s debts) Some versions of the story claim that Eliason himself went mad later but there is no hard evidence for this. The stone was later revalued at £30,000.  From this point on the stone would be known as the Hope Diamond.  Not surprisingly, while Henry Hope owned the diamond he suffered a long series of misfortunes, including the death of his only son.

In 1887 his grandson, Lord Francis Hope, inherited the cursed diamond. He spent almost all of his fortune on his extravagant and reckless lifestyle and had to sell the diamond in 1901 to Adolf Weil of Hatton Garden to pay off gambling debts. He also lost his foot in a hunting accident and his wife cheated on him.  He later died as a poor man.

While he owned the diamond he became infatuated with an American actress May Yohé who he later married.  May didn’t like the diamond and claimed it exuded an evil spell on people.  She blamed the diamond for corrupting her and driving her to have the affair that ended in her divorce from Lord Francis.   She is said to have died poverty stricken after the failure of an early film about the Hope Diamond Mystery (1921) and its now well-known curse.  There have been some suggestions that Yohé might have tried to kill her second husband – Captain John Smuts.

It passed on to Jaques Colot, a broker who struggled to sell it on.  The worry of his investment took the pleasure out of his life and even after he did sell it he declined into madness when he found out he would not receive full payment for the gem.  He finally committed suicide.

Replica of the original Tavinier Blue Diamond
The Hope Diamond set in the French Golden Fleece.
French Blue Diamond converted to Hope Diamond
The Cursed Hope Diamond in the Smithsonian Museum

In 1902 Jaques Colot sold the Hope Diamond to Ivan Kanitowsky, a Russian prince.  In 1908 Kanitowsky then gave it (loaned it) to the celebrated actress Mademoiselle Lorens Ladue of the Folies Bergère in Paris. The first time she wore the stone on stage she was shot by a man in the audience some people claim was an ex-lover.  Some versions of the story claim that it was Kanitowsky himself that pulled the trigger.  Some weeks later the prince himself was stabbed to death as he walked along a Parisian street.  The work some believe of Russian revolutionary agitators.

During late 1908, a well-known Greek jewel broker by the name of Simon Maoncharides acquired the stone.  History, as always, is uncertain but it appears that he sold it to Habib Bey – a Persian diamond merchant.  On the night that the deal was concluded, Maoncharides accidentally drove his carriage over a precipice, killing himself, his wife and child.

Habib Bey quickly sold the stone to Salomon Habib who was acting on behalf of Abdul Hamid II, the Sultan of Turkey. Within months Habib Bey drowned during the sinking of a French steamer in 1909.

Abdul (The Damned) paid $400,000 and gave it Salma Zubayaba (Zubaidah) his favourite concubine with orders that it be protected by Kulub Bey, his favourite eunuch and guardian of the Sultan’s treasures.   Mere months afterwards, while Kulub Bey was distracted Jehver Agha, a low official in the treasury, stabbed and killed Zubayda and tried to steal the jewel.  He was caught by Kulub Bey and hanged after being tortured.  Abu Sabir, the man who had polished the stone for Sultan was unfairly accused of working with Jehver Agha and was tortured and executed. Shortly after this incident Abdul Hamid II was overthrown during the Young Turks Rebellion of 27 April 1909.  He was later captured and imprisoned at Beylerbeyi Palace in the Bosphorus.  Legend has it that Kulub Bey was captured by a mob after the uprising and slowly strangled to death.

The Hope Diamond vanishes from history for a while until it appears in the hands of Pierre Cartier of the famous Cartier Jewelers family.  On 28 January 1911 he sold it to Edward B. McLean on behalf of his wife Evalyn who became owner of the diamond and mocked the curse joking that things that brought other people bad luck brought her good luck. Perhaps Edward wasn’t convinced though as the original contract with Cartier did include a clause stating: Should any fatality occur to the family of Edward B. McLean within six months, the said Hope Diamond is agreed to be exchanged for jewelry of equal value”.

Well, Evalyn may have joked about the Hope Diamond but it didn’t care.  Shortly after she acquired it her mother-in-law died.  Her eldest son, Vinson, often referred to as the Billion Dollar Baby, ran in front of a car and was killed. He was only nine.  Edward McLean went off with another woman and even claimed to have married her although he hadn’t.   Evalyn continued to spend money recklessly as did Edward who eventually wound up in a mental asylum where he died from brain atrophy brought on by alcoholism.  Aged only 25, Evalyn’s only daughter died from a drug overdose.  Debts eventually forced her to sell the Washington Post.  Aged just 60, she died of pneumonia soon after her daughter and was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington D.C. Evalyn’s grandson Lt. Ronald Walsh McLean was killed during the Vietnam War while leading a five man recon in Quảng Trị Province.

Sultan Abdul Hamid II
Evalyn Walsh McLean

Harry Winston, a New York diamond merchant, bought the gem in 1949.  He exhibited it around the world but in 1958 he was persuaded to donate it to the Smithsonian Museum, where it has resided to this day.

The curse wasn’t quite finished yet.  James Todd, the mailman who took the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian later crushed his leg in a truck accident, injured his head in an automobile accident and then lost his home in a fire.

There is only one person who has been spared the “curse” of the diamond – the American jeweler Harry Winston. After buying the diamond, he donated it to the Smithsonian Institution who still possess the diamond to this day.

Is this all just coincidence or is the Hope Diamond actually cursed?   Some researchers dispute many of the facts in the story such as the fact that Marie Antoinette may never have actually worn the jewel and that Tavinier may have lived a long and prosperous life.  Still there is no denying that people associated with the stone – even if they weren’t the owners – have had uncommonly bad luck.

The Cursed Hope Diamond of India
Footnote: This is the legend of the Hope Diamond and its curse.  Please note that many researchers and authors disagree with this version of events and claim that the entire story of misfortune was probably made up by Pierre Cartier and later May Yohe.  Cartier wanted to sell the gem and need a fantastical back-story while Yohe was trying to promote the film about the diamond that she co-wrote. For a very detailed and less sensationalist version of what really happened please read the book – ‘Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem’ by Richard Kurin.

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Ghosts & Hauntings

Horror movies love a haunted doll. So do collectors.

Thirty years ago, the world was introduced to a 29-inch-tall doll in overalls named Chucky. With eyes bluer than a White Walker’s, hair more fiery than Ed Sheeran’s, and a smattering of freckles à la Emma Stone, he looked like the perfect childhood buddy.

Unfortunately, Chucky, the tiny antagonist of the 1988 movie Child’s Play, was possessed by a serial killer with a knack for slaughtering people with butcher knives, yo-yo strings, and anything else he could find around the house. Today, almost everyone knows that if a wild-eyed doll asks, “Wanna play?” the only acceptable response is to run as fast and far as you can.

Then there are people like Kevin Cain, a paranormal investigator in Alabama who owns hundreds of haunted dolls and other items. “I lost count a long time ago,” he says. While Cain may be an especially prolific collector, he’s far from the only one. In fact, there is a thriving marketplace for haunted dolls on the internet.

According to Cain, things really took off after the Annabelle doll appeared in The Conjuring (2013), followed by a solo film, Annabelle: Creation (2017). Annabelle, a vintage porcelain doll with smeared lipstick, a cracked pupil, and claw marks on her face, is possessed by a demonic spirit that enjoys ruthlessly murdering people. That she’s based on a real-life haunted Raggedy Ann doll adds to the intrigue.



“Dark Angel,” a haunted doll sold by Kat Blowers in her shop FugitiveKatCreations on Etsy.
FugitiveKatCreations

With the next installment of the Conjuring series, Annabelle Comes Home, and a reboot of Child’s Play both hitting theaters in late June, there’s sure to be a new wave of people curious about haunted dolls — and perhaps even eager to get their hands on one.

Gone are the days when you’d have to trek to a shady part of town, down a darkened alley, and into a questionable-looking antiques shop to get your haunted doll fix (although if you’re ever in New Orleans, Bloody Mary’s Haunted Museum and Spirit Shop is worth a visit). Etsy and eBay list thousands of dolls purportedly inhabited by everything from evil witches to judgmental spirits that might call you fat to young children and fairy spirits.

Most haunted dolls sell for around $50 plus shipping, but the most highly prized ones are priced well into the four figures. There’s a formula, too, for how they’re sold: Each listing contains a detailed overview of the spirit’s life story, details of said spirit’s death, and a description of their personality. Dolls are labeled “active” or “highly active” if paranormal phenomena are said to occur frequently in their vicinity.

Some are advertised as being able to move objects, make noises, or communicate via telepathy or Ouija board, while others are meant to act as creative muses, play matchmaker by revealing potential lovers in dreams, or emit positive energy.

Kat Blowers, whose Etsy shop FugitiveKatCreations specializes in haunted dolls, says best-sellers tend to be inhabited by female spirits that have some sort of “empowerment” angle. “We have a lot of goddess-type spirits or women who have survived terrible situations and thrived.” She also sees high demand for witches around Halloween and leprechauns near St. Patrick’s Day.

Best-sellers tend to be inhabited by female spirits that have some sort of “empowerment”

While there are con artists looking to take advantage of uneducated buyers, many haunted item purveyors hold themselves to what they see as high ethical and scientific standards. “It costs us a fortune in tools,” says Blowers. Whenever she acquires a new doll, Blowers and her husband put it through an intense investigation that lasts one to three months.

First, the doll is separated from any other paranormal objects in the house. Then it’s examined with a K-II EMF meter, a device used by paranormal investigators to detect electromagnetic energy, for a period of three to five days. Blowers then places the doll in a sound box (“basically a foam box”), with a voice-activated recorder to see if she can hear any words or phrases. “We’ve heard music before, which is really weird,” she tells me.

Finally, they conduct lucid dreaming sessions, which involve sleeping next to the doll alongside a piece of amethyst (which is supposed to be a potent lucid dreaming crystal) to see if they have any weird dreams. Blowers typically ends up with a 15-page report by the end of each investigation.

Unlike in horror films, real-life haunted dolls aren’t necessarily bloodthirsty beings with a penchant for sharp objects. “Not everything is evil,” says Cain. “Yes, there are demons, and Annabelle is example number one of that, but also good spirits. If a ghost can haunt a house or building or ship, why can’t it just hang around an item it once owned or reminds them of something in their past?” He theorizes that spirits like to hang around dolls and other toys because of their familiarity and strong emotional connection.

However, this doesn’t mean buyers shouldn’t beware. Cain routinely refuses people who email begging to purchase one of his haunted dolls. “I tell them it’s not for everybody. You don’t know what you’re asking for,” he says. “These dolls aren’t for entertainment or fun. These are actual haunted items with spirits attached who want to be respected. Then you have those who, if you’re not careful, are demonic and ready to tear into your soul.”

He describes an episode where a young woman bought a doll online that was supposed to be haunted by a kind, positive spirit, but she ended up with something dark and malevolent. After a string of strange occurrences culminating in feeling tiny hands around her neck one night, she contacted Cain and shipped the doll off to him. Luckily, he knew how to bind the demonic spirit, ultimately sealing the doll in a box coated in holy water and storing it on the highest shelf in his home, where it remains.

Demons aside, selling haunted dolls online comes with some technical challenges. For one thing, eBay isn’t too keen on the whole concept and has a policy that specifically forbids the selling of souls. According to a statement from the company back in 2000, “eBay does not allow the auctioning of human souls for the following reasons: If the soul does not exist, eBay could not allow the auctioning of the soul because there would be nothing to sell. However, if the soul does exist then, in accordance with eBay’s policy on human parts and remains, we would not allow the auctioning of human souls.” In 2012, eBay further banned metaphysical items including spells, hexes, potions, and magical services.

Some sellers found creative workarounds, including winking claims that their dolls are “for entertainment purposes only” or “sold as is.” They also often state there’s no guarantee of paranormal activity and indemnify themselves from the consequences of anything that does or doesn’t happen. Others, deterred by eBay’s crackdown, simply packed up and moved to Etsy.

The haunted doll market certainly isn’t disappearing anytime soon. Cain expects there’ll be a huge surge in demand this summer thanks to Annabelle and Chucky’s big-screen appearances — something he’s not particularly thrilled about. For anyone considering a haunted doll purchase, he has one message: “Be careful what you buy. It may be phony — or, worse yet, it may be something demonic.”

Read More On This At “Paranormal, Ghosts, Hauntings” – Google News

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Ghosts & Hauntings

Haunted D-Day Battleship USS Texas To Be Moved From Houston

Seventy-five years after serving its country proudly on D-Day, it was announced that the USS Texas – better known as the Battleship Texas – will be moved from its current location in Houston to another dock in Texas. Besides being a beloved historical monument, the Battleship Texas is considered to be one of the most haunted locations in Texas. Will the ghosts be going along with it?

“People have seen anomalies that appear to be nothing more than vapor, while other individuals have heard unusual whispering and chattering around the vessel.”

Haunted Rooms America is hosting hybrid history/paranormal tours of the Battleship Texas from now until it is moved, most likely by the end of 2019. The history side of the USS Texas is worth the price of admission. It was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1914 – just in time for its battery of ten 14-inch (356 mm)/45 caliber Mark 1 guns, twenty-one 5-inch (127 mm)/51-caliber guns and four 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes to see action in World War I, firing the first American shots at a German U-boat.

In World War II, the USS Texas saw its first action in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa (a young Walter Cronkite was onboard as a reporter). On D-Day (6 June 1944) the USS Texas took position 12,000 yards (11,000 meters) offshore near Pointe du Hoc and fired its guns in support of the Omaha Beach operation. The ship later took part in the Battle of Cherbourg, Operation Dragoon, and the Pacific battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

In 1948, the USS Texas arrived in Houston to become America’s first permanent battleship museum and that’s where the ghost stories begin. While the ship was involved in numerous battles, its crews suffered only one combat fatality. However, those same battles may be the cause of the ship’s most famous apparitions – visitors report mysterious white vapors that appear suddenly throughout the ship and strange voices heard when no one else is around. An often-seen ghost is a young red-headed sailor in uniform seen wandering through the ship’s halls or standing at the foot of ladders. The description given doesn’t match the one known casualty, so it’s assumed he’s a former crew member with a supernatural attachment to his old ship.

With the money already budgeted (and awaiting the governor’s signature) for the old ship to be moved to drydock, repaired and then moved to a new location, Haunted Rooms America has stepped up its ghost tours and is now offering overnight stays with psychics and paranormal equipment, including trigger objects, EMF readers and spirit boxes.

While the Battleship Texas is said to be one of the most haunted places in the state, there are no guarantees that visitors will see a ghost. However, they will most definitely see an historic piece of D-Day and US Naval history that just might be ready to reveal a few more tales before moving on.

Source: Mysterious Universe

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Ghosts & Hauntings

Scottish Isle to Erect Statue Honoring Its Famous ‘White Wife’ Ghost

If you need more proof that tourism is the growth industry of the future, look no further than Scotland’s  whose council is considering erecting a statue honoring a hooded female ghost who haunts a lonely stretch of road and appears in cars driven by single young men. What fun!

“I thought at the time, ‘there’s no moon tonight’. When I looked around the White Wife was sitting in the seat next to me. She was transparent, grey and she smiled. I’ll never forget that smile. At the time it gee’d me a braa gluff, yes!”

If you understand those words, you’re probably from the Shetland Islands of far north Scotland where a unique Shetlandic dialect combining Old Norse (due to the islands being part of Norway until the 15th century) and Scottish is spoken (“braa gluff” means a grand fright). In an interview with The Shetland News, noted Unst fiddler Steven Spence was describing his own encounter with the White Wife of Watlee while driving alone from Baltasound to Uyeasound on the Watlee Brae (“brae” is a road with a steep grade) when he was gluffed to find a ghost sitting next to him. The spirit disappeared before he could say anything, but Spence knew the legend of the White Wife and was sure it was her.

The Shetland News was interviewing guys with White Wife encounters after local artist Eric Burgess-Ray proposed building a life-sized statue of the hooded apparition and community council chairman Gordon Thomson agreed to sponsor it, seeing that it would make a great and “quirky” attraction that would draw tourists to the “island above all others” of the Shetland islands. According to the long-told legend, the White Wife of Watlee is the ghost of an elderly female who is looking for her son, usually near the Brig of Watlee (“brig” is a bridge). Not much else is known about the woman, why she haunts that particular stretch of road or how she or her son might have met the demise that doomed her to live on as a spirit.

“It’s just one of those things you cannot believe unless it happens to you.”

Unst resident Alan Hunter told The Shetland News of his own experience on the same road when an old grey woman appeared in the passenger seat of his car and stayed there for about mile before disappearing. Enough single men have seen the White Wife of Watlee that the nearby Valhalla Brewery (the UK’s northernmost brewery) offers a White Wife ale – “a light ale with a golden, clean finish. It’s dry, refreshing, bitter and characteristically fruity aftertaste.”

Eric Burgess-Ray wants his statue approved and on display in time to help this year’s tourist season because “people like a good ghost story.” However, Unst already has plenty to offer. Besides being the northernmost of the inhabited British Isles, it’s home to the remains of the Muness Castle, 60 Viking longhouses – three are being restored – and the Hermaness National Nature Reserve. It also already has a monument to the White Wife – a flat rock with a line drawing of her head on it.

A rock? A ghost that appears in cars needs a better memorial than that. Let’s hope the White Wife of Watlee gets her well-deserved statue.

Source: Mysterious Universe

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