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The 10 Most Frustrating Ways Expensive Stuff Was Lost Or Destroyed

Karl Smallwood

Accidents happen, and millions of dollars worth of stuff is destroyed every day because someone dropped it into a toilet. That’s how half of all the iPhones on Earth are destined to die some day. If you look into it, though, there are stories about things worth tons of money being destroyed, lost, or damaged for pretty petty and frustrating reasons, either because the people weren’t aware of what the stuff was worth or because they simply didn’t care.

10 The Platinum Spain Dumped Into The Sea

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Platinum is one of those metals with a fantastic reputation. Though not as shiny as gold or as able to kill werewolves as silver, platinum enjoys it’s own niche as a precious metal with a value to match. The price of precious metals is fluctuating all the time, but as of today, a single ounce would set you back around $1,400.

The thing is, if you went back to the 16th century, you couldn’t give platinum away. When the Spanish first encountered the metal in Ecuador, they initially believed it to be unripe gold, due to the fact it was similar in density. In fact, the metal was ignored by all but one group of people—forgers. Taking advantage of the density of the metal, they used it to create counterfeit gold coins that were incredibly hard to tell apart from the real thing.

The problem actually got so severe that both the Spanish and English governments were at a loss as to how to combat it. However, the Spanish eventually came up with the stupidest solution to the problem when they dumped virtually every scrap of platinum in the entire country into the sea in an effort to combat the forging problem. Little did they realize that, just 100 years or so later, the metal would be so valuable that the roads in the Colombian towns in which the metal was first discovered (and promptly ignored) were literally paved with gold when rich veins of platinum were found beneath them.

9 The Cognac That Was Dropped, Ruining A World Record

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Cocktails are serious business, and mixologists across the world are creating new, exciting drinks on a daily basis in the hope humanity never gets bored with getting drunk. One of the more bizarre and interesting stories of the cocktail-making world is the never-ending quest to create the most expensive cocktail of all time.

Salvatore Calabrese, a bartender at the Playboy Club in London, was in the middle of preparing his record-breaking $7,800 cocktail when the customer who’d ordered it asked if they could hold the incredibly rare and wicked expensive bottle of 1788 Clos de Griffier Vieux that was supposed to make up the bulk of his drink—all $78,000 worth. You can see what’s coming next, right?

The customer—for no explainable reason, given that they were holding something worth nearly $100,000—dropped the bottle, smashing its contents all over the floor. However, the real kicker was that Salvatore had yet to add the cognac to the cocktail, meaning not only was his virtually irreplaceable cognac now in pieces, but so was his record attempt. However, showing the chops of a gentlemen who could only be a part of the Playboy family, Salvatore forgave the customer. He said that he couldn’t be angry at someone for wanting to appreciate such a fine bottle of cognac. The fact it was insured was presumably also a factor in Salvatore’s quickness to forgive.

8 The Chandelier Someone Threw A Croc At

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Photo credit: Gawker Media

Chandeliers are among one of the most opulent signs of one’s wealth. To some, they’re garish, but to others, they’re beautiful. Whatever your opinion, you’re likely well aware that they’re worth a lot of money.

One such chandelier, located in the 360 Mall in Kuwait, was severely damaged when a teenager decided to throw their shoe at it for no reason whatsoever. This random act of destruction would be rather annoying on its own, but it’s the person’s choice of shoe that really pushes this one over the edge.

Crocs. The person was wearing Crocs.

The chandelier, which had an estimated value of over $1.8 million, suffered severe damage as a result of the shoe-throwing. Though American sources covering the story got the Croc angle covered and then some, you have to go to Kuwait sources to find out the fate of the teenager in question. Disappointingly, despite causing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage with the ugliest shoe in the world, they were let off without so much as a slap on the wrist.

7 The $9,000 Video Game Ship

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Photo credit: Wheel of Games

If you don’t think video games are serious, we invite you to delve into the world of EVE Online, an MMO game where you can literally spend thousands of dollars on and hours flying pretend spaceships. The game is famous online for its actual economy where one can purchase items with actual real-world value.

For example, consider PLEX, an item from the world of EVE Online that can be purchased with real-world money that grants 30 days of in-game play time. PLEX is a valuable commodity that can be traded or sold in game, or even sold to people in the real world, for real money. Most annoyingly of all, however, is the fact that PLEX can be destroyed or stolen in game. In other words, you could spend $1,000 on PLEX and have some jerk blow it up for no reason, and you won’t have any way of ever getting your money back. We’re not using that as a worst case scenario: That actually happened once.

One of the most expensive ships in the game is the so called Revenant, a ship with a real-world value estimated at somewhere around the $9,000 mark. Though not the most expensive item on this list, you have to realize that this was likely some player’s pride and joy. It no doubt represented hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of work on their part. Not to mention that, in terms of gaming, this thing was hundreds of times more expensive than virtually anything else a person could even think of buying.

So why was it destroyed? Well, as far as anyone can tell, just because. Imagine if you woke up one morning and your car had been destroyed because someone thought it was funny—then, when you tried to tell someone about it, they shrugged, laughed, and wrote an article about how much money you’d just lost. The weird thing is, this happens in EVE Online all the time. In the past, players have destroyed in-game items with thousands of dollars’ worth of real-world value because they could. The worst part of all this is that in EVE, if you lose something, there’s no insurance, no take backs, and if someone decides to obliterate your $9,000 ship, there’s nothing you can do about it. Ouch!

6 The Crash That Destroyed Almost A Dozen Sports Cars

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Sports cars are the ultimate status symbol—they’re cool, expensive, and instantly recognizable. Even if you’re not a car lover, you have to admit that there’s just something sad about seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of precision-engineered metal lying in a crumpled heap.

A crash in Japan, in which no one was seriously hurt, has been recognized as the most expensive crash in history when 10 drivers on their way to a supercar event in Hiroshima crashed almost $3 million worth of car.

As we said at the start of this article, accidents happen, but in this case, several of the drivers were accused of violating traffic laws and some of the drivers openly admitted they had no idea how powerful their cars were when later questioned about the crash. In other words, millions of dollars’ worth of Ferraris were destroyed because the idiots driving them couldn’t resist showing off before they got to an event specifically designed to let them show off the cars they had no idea how to drive!

But that’s not the most frustrating way rare cars were destroyed—no, for that you have to come to the States.

5 The Rare Cars Destroyed For Scrap

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The “Cash for Clunkers” scheme, officially known as the “Car Allowance Rebate System” or CARS, was a way of getting older, less fuel-efficient cars off the road devised by the government. The plan largely did its job, and we won’t comment on it further than that. However, when figures were released about exactly what kind of cars people were handing in for money, eagle-eyed car fans noticed something.

Some of the cars people had deemed worthless were actually super-rare or old cars that the right collector would pay an arm and a leg for. The car blog site Jalopnik noted that, among the hundreds of effectively worthless cars destroyed, there were some genuine gems.

For example, someone actually traded in a Bentley Continental R, a car with an estimated value of over $300,000, which was also one of only 1,290 built. Another traded in an Aston Martin DB7 Volante, which was one of only 7,000 ever built along with being worth a cool $100,000. In other words, someone out there actually didn’t think James Bond’s car’s cousin was worth anything more than its value in scrap.

For the less discerning reader, other sources have noted that less rare, but equally awesome cars like Corvettes, Mustangs, and even Camaros have been destroyed under the scheme. Meaning, yes, someone traded in Bumblebee!

4 The First Edition Harry Potter Book Thrown Away Unread

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There are around only 300–500 first edition Harry Potter books in existence today, depending on which source you consult. Along with being worth an approximate $50,000 each (a price that will only go up with time), they’re also the holy grail for Potter fans and literary buffs alike.

Nigel Reynolds holds the distinction of being the first person to interview JK Rowling before her book exploded onto the scene. During the course of the interview, Rowling gave Reynolds a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as thanks—which Reynolds promptly threw away seconds after getting back to his office.

Here’s the frustrating part—Reynolds didn’t even bother to wait to see if Rowling’s book ended up succeeding. Instead of doing literally the easiest thing possible at this point, which would be nothing, Reynold chose to throw the book away rather than wait to see if the up-and-coming author he just interviewed released a good book. Either way, he didn’t need to wait long, because less than a year after the interview, Reynolds was standing in line to have his son’s non-first edition copy of Harry Potter signed by Rowling.

3 The Hospital That Threw Away A Kidney

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Of all the things on our list, this is likely the one with highest value, since we’ve not met a person yet who can put a price on a human life without causing us to slowly back out of the room while calling the police.

The story goes that a Paul Fudacz Jr., in an attempt to save the life of his older sister, donated one of his kidneys for transplant. Her brother represented the single best chance for a perfect match, and the importance and value of his sacrifice is incalculable. However, tragedy struck when a nurse at the hospital threw the kidney away without checking to see if it was, you know, something important. Luckily, the patient managed to get another kidney from another donor—and unsurprisingly, her first act as a healthy woman was to sue the pants off the hospital.

Rather than throwing money and apologies at the Fudacz family until their grandkids were born riding motorcycles, the hospital heroically asked them to drop the suit because, according to them, what they did wasn’t gross negligence. If ripping out a man’s kidney for no reason isn’t gross negligence, we dread to think of what is.

2 Tons Of “Art” That’s Been Tossed

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There are dozens of stories about janitors and even well-meaning museum patrons accidentally throwing away or otherwise damaging pieces of valuable art because they simply didn’t know it was art. For example, a piece of Gustav Metzger’s “art” was thrown away while on display in the Tate Modern when someone mistook a stray plastic bag as exactly that and not a piece of of Gustav’s piece. To be fair to that person, the bag was sitting on the floor next to another piece of art, so it’s only natural for a person to assume it was a bag of trash.

In the same museum, yet another bag of rubbish—which was also, for some reason, a really valuable piece of art—was thrown away by a cleaner who again mistook it for a piece of trash left behind by an indifferent museum patron. A cleaner in Germany made a similar mistake when they accidentally cleaned a dirty bucket worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that was on display, not knowing the stains on the bucket were carefully applied paint. Meanwhile, in London, an impromptu piece of work by Damien Hirst, which literally consisted of empty beer bottles thrown around a museum, were hustled away by a criminally underpaid museum staffer just trying to do their job.

If we may offer a humble suggestion to any artists reading, this would happen way less often if artists stopped throwing beer bottles in museums, calling it an “untitled piece,” and then walking away. Just a thought.

1 The Artists Who Burned Over $1 Million

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This example is different from the others on this list in that the people destroying the thing of value—in this case, cold hard cash—were well aware of its value. They just didn’t care.

The K Foundation was a duo consisting of two artists, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. Though the pair had enjoyed reasonable success as musicians under the name The KLF, their real passion was art. However, rather than painting pretty pictures or throwing things in a museum, the pair decided to do something more extravagant.

Aptly titled “The K Foundation Burn a Million Quid,” the pair gathered virtually every penny they’d ever earned and burned it all in a disused boathouse. We really wish we could give you a reason for why they did, but neither of them have ever given a solid one, despite it being the one question both men were asked in every interview they ever conducted afterwards.

Before fishing your phone out the next time you drop it in the toilet, just remember—some guys once burned over $1 million for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Karl has a Twitter and can be found writing about athletes of antiquity over at Man Cave Daily.