What is that item you own that you just can’t afford to lose? Now imagine an accidental explosion melting down the statue of liberty or the Taj Mahal! While these events are hard to think about, some of the world’s most precious artefacts are not shielded from such accidents. Art defines us as human beings, and some artefacts are priceless because they are irreplaceable. Accidents are also unavoidable, although their impact can be irreversible. Some of these accidents were caused by extreme negligence, while others were unavoidable. Their result was, however, the loss of some of the world’s most precious pieces of art.
The Domino Effect
This was probably the most expensive selfie accident in history. A museum visitor damaged a series of crowns on pedestals due to her clumsiness while taking a selfie. The artwork belonged to Simon Birch, a British artist based in China. He had been displaying his latest artwork at an exhibition gallery at a museum in New York. His artwork entailed a series of crowns laid on pedestals of varying heights.
The museum visitor in question was standing close to the pedestals as she was talking a selfie when she lost her balance, sending the crowns crashing in a cascading domino effect. The pedestals fell into each other, throwing most of the sculptures to the ground. The damage, according to Mr Birch, was roughly $200, 000 dollars. It is remembered as the world’s most expensive game of dominos.
Tutankhamun is the most famous Egyptian Pharaoh relic ever found. The mask he was buried in is one of the most priceless artefacts in history. It was crafted in gold and intricate lapis lazuli. Something this irreplaceable is to be handled with great care. However, in 2014, workers at a museum in Cairo accidentally hit the head of the pharaoh and broke its beard. Instead of following strict procedures to restore the artefact to its former glory, an unidentified person glued the beard back on using epoxy. However, it wasn’t properly glued since it wasn’t in the centre. Experts eventually noticed the damage, and a national inquiry was formed to investigate the perpetrator. No one knows what went down, although eight employees of Egypt’s National Museum are awaiting trial for their involvement in the accident.
The Nazca Lines
Climate activists known as Greenpeace became enemies of the Earth in 2014 when they damaged the precious ancient lines. These lines were carved into the ground of the Nazca Desert of Peru nearly 1500 years ago. They depict several things, including people, plants, animals, and even shapes. These can be seen from high in the sky. Greenpeace added lines of their own to the ancient Nazca Lines to pass their message on environmental preservation.
They laid down big yellow letters reading “Time for Change! The future is renewable.” Greenpeace later apologized after realizing their massive mistake, but the damage was already done. The Peru government was to file charges against the protestors for attacking an archaeological monument, a crime punishable by up to 6 years in prison.
The Elgin Marbles
The British Museum once accidentally destroyed one of the most important artefacts of ancient Greece. The Elgin marbles were a series of marble sculptures that were part of the temple of Parthenon in Athens during the 5th century BC. When they were kept in the Museum of London, they were not preserved properly, causing them to be covered in a layer of brine due to several years of pollution.
In an effort to clean the priceless artefact, chemicals such as nitric acid were used to do the job. Stone scrapers were also added to the mix. Unfortunately, this eroded 0.5 inches of the surface. This removed much of the detail from the statues, which were thousands of years old and irreplaceable.
Picasso’s Le Reve
A masterpiece from the famous artist, Picasso, was nearly destroyed by the clumsiness of a billionaire. The painting in question was The Le Reve, a 1932 portrait of Picasso’s mistress. In 1997 it was sold for a jaw-dropping $48.8 million. What is unbelievable apart from its price is that it only took Picasso 5 hours to paint it. In 2001 the billionaire casino owner Steve Wynn bought the painting. In 2007 he showed it off to some of his friends at his casino in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately for Steve, while talking about the importance of the painting, he ran his elbow through it by accident and punctured it. The mishap was because he was suffering from a condition which affected his peripheral vision. The painting was to be sold a few days later. A deal had already been signed for it to go for $139 million. After the accident, it was restored, and an expert had estimated it would now go for only $85 million. However, that did not deter Steve Cohen from purchasing the painting for a whopping $155 million some years later.
Thomas Jefferson’s Wine
William Sokolin was known for showing off, especially on fancy events. In 1989 he attended a party celebrating the best and most recent wines from Bordeaux. He knew the highest-profile wine experts from around the world would be in attendance, so he decided to show off the best of his own collection. He did so by bringing a 200-year-old bottle of wine with the hope that someone would buy it.
The wine bottle wasn’t just an ordinary wine bottle. Despite it being 200 years old, it was owned by Thomas Jefferson himself and even had his signature on the label. While showing off, Mr Sokolin accidentally hit the bottle against the edge of the table, and it shattered into pieces. Mr Sokolin was hoping to sell the bottle for close to $520,000 but came out empty-handed due to the mishap.
A Crushed Violin
In 2009, the popular violinist artist David Garrett destroyed a $1 million-dollar violin. The violin was made by the Italian craftsman GB Guadagnini in the year 1772. That is was a 237-year-old violin! It was priceless. Garrett was carrying the violin in his backpack and was in a hurry to meet his family after a performance.
He accidentally slipped over a set of stairs and landed on the violin. The violin couldn’t sustain his weight and cracked. People rushed to check up on him, but he was more concerned about the violin, which by now, had several cracks. The repairs cost $80,000, but the mistake was corrected.
The Parachuting Rat
In the year 2003, one of the world’s most celebrated contemporary painting artist, Banksy, made a series of antiwar paintings in Melbourne, Australia. He named the paintings The Parachuting Rat Series. All these were painted on walls. These paintings were treasured, and many considered them priceless art. However, one Melbourne contractor seemed not to have gotten the memo because he painted over one of the wall paintings. The Melbourne authorities tend to promote street art and only take exemption to gang-related graffiti. These priceless artefacts had been thought to be street graffiti and it was destroyed by cleaners who thought it was gang-related.
A 19th Century Guitar
In the blockbuster movie, The Hateful Eight, Kurt Russell accidentally destroyed a priceless 19th-century guitar which belonged the filmmakers. It was an authentic acoustic guitar that was handcrafted in the late 1800s. There is only a handful of them surviving in the world at the moment, and they are very expensive. The guitar had been added to the scene to give the film a 19th-century feel.
In the scene, actress Jennifer Leigh was to play the guitar while Kurt Russell was to snatch the guitar and smash it in a fete of rage. The plan, however, was to stop filming during the scene and swap the priceless guitar with a fake so that Kurt Russel could smash it. However, that didn’t happen!! No one had told Russel that that was the authentic guitar. He smashed the original guitar into several pieces. The owners were furious. Of course, Russell was sorry for the mistake, a very expensive mistake indeed.
A Chinese Lamp
Ming vases have become priceless artefacts dating back to 15th century China, but they are also very delicate hence the need for care. Every authenticated Ming dynasty vase attracts millions of dollars in an auction. Of course, the valuation depends on how well it is kept. In 2012, a rare Ming vase was placed at an auction. The vase, according to expert estimates, would have fetched $3 to $4 million.
It, however, went for $ 730,000 because the seller had turned it into a lamp. He had glued a wooden base at its bottom and attached a metal fixing at the neck, ran a wire through it, and even drilled holes on the vase. Around the same time, another priceless artefact was found cracked after being converted into an umbrella holder.
Author Bio – Billy Oduory is an author and editor with a vast experience in creating interesting entertainment reads. He has an eye for the fine interesting details that mainstream media ignores. Learn more about me and get in touch on Twitter