Haunted History: 19 Real and Allegedly Cursed Objects

by |September 25, 2023
Categories: Resource

Haunted History: 19 Real and Allegedly Cursed Objects

The world is full of strange and unusual things. Sometimes, there simply is no explanation to be found! Whether or not you consider yourself a superstitious person, several objects around the world seem to be tied to more than their share of bad luck. If you love haunted history, be prepared! We love all things Halloween and macabre, so let's look at several of the world's most notorious haunted items.


1. Annabelle Doll

Annabelle Doll

[Source: hollywoodreporter.com]

Whether you were introduced to Annabelle through The Conjuring movies or you know about real-life Ed and Lorraine Warren, the Anabelle doll is one of the most famous haunted items in the world. Unlike the movie doll, Annabelle is an allegedly haunted Raggedy Ann doll. Ed and Lorraine Warren obtained the doll in 1971 after a student nurse and her roommate contacted the Warrens about Annabelle's malicious behavior. The Warrens declared that the doll was demonically possessed and locked it in a glass case. There are warning signs on the outside to deter anyone from opening it.


2. Robert the Doll

Robert the Doll resides at the East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida. Robert Eugene Otto's grandfather bought it during a trip to Germany in 1904. Robert kept the doll until he died in 1974, and it stayed in the home with his wife until she also died two years later. The doll was donated to the East Martello Museum in 1994, where it became a popular attraction. It is rumored that the doll makes giggling sounds, moves about, and can change its facial expressions—museum visitors who disrespect the doll report experiencing misfortune. People have been known to write apology letters to Robert the Doll, hoping to end their curse.


3. Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond has a long history, from when it was first purchased in 1666 as the Tavernier Blue to when it was sold to King Louis XIV and re-cut and sold under the Hope name in 1839. The diamond went through several more hands before being donated to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in 1958. The diamond has a reputation for bringing misfortune to its owners, although these claims have yet to be proven. (However, such publicity only helped to inflate the diamond's value!) News about the diamond's curse has been traced back as far as 1888 to a newspaper article from New Zealand. However, the Hope Diamond's curse appears to have gone dormant after being obtained by the Smithsonian.


4. Dybbuk Box

Stories and folk tales have long been used to entertain people with sensational stories. Even in modern times, new tales are being told and passed on through modern means. One such story is that of the famous Dybbuk box. Now known as a hoax, the box was initially purchased in 2003 from a yard sale. When the seller re-listed it on eBay, he placed a carving inside and a stone. He also included a story on the listing about the box containing the spirit of a malicious dybbuk, a malicious spirit from Jewish folklore. This story passed along with the box from owner to owner, becoming a new internet legend. It wasn't until 2021 that the original eBay lister admitted that he had made the entire thing up. We guess you can't always believe what you read online!


5. Terracotta Army

Terracotta Warriors

[Source: Lonely Planet Images/Corbis/smithsonianmagazine.com]

Sites where bodies are buried are notorious as magnets for hauntings. Allegedly, the location of the Terracotta Army is one such place. Approximately 6,000-8,000 life-sized statues reside in the Terracotta Army, where it has also been said the artisans were buried with their work. While the claim cannot be proven, it is speculated that those who worked on the army and surrounding tomb were not allowed to leave so that no one would know its location. The chamber was only officially discovered in 1974, so they did a great job, considering construction began in 246 BCE! Unfortunately, the seven farmers who first found the location fell on hard times, only fueling tales of the curse of the Terracotta Army. Three of the seven men died untimely deaths, while the other four men received nothing for the discovery. Instead, their land was bought from them and their village to make way for gift shops and tourists.


6. Letta the Doll

When a doll goes by "Letta", short for "Letta Me Out", you know there's a story to tell. Letta was first discovered in an abandoned building in Wagga Wagga, Australia, in 1972 by Kerry Walton. The doll received its name because Kerry said he heard the doll utter "letta me out" from the trunk it was contained in. Letta is a wooden doll made with human hair and is approximately 200 years old. Now famous as one of the most haunted items in Australia, Walton is still the current owner of the doll. He claims that Letta moves around the house independently, and the bottoms of the doll's feet have telltale scuff marks indicating its unnatural movement. Letta occasionally appears with its owner and has his own Instagram!


7. Koh-i-Noor Diamond

The hotly-contested history of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond makes for quite a story! It is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, making it also one of the most valuable at €140 to €400 million. (That's $150-$435 million!) The diamond likely came from India, but its history pre-1740s is mostly undocumented. The diamond was looted in the invasion of Northern India by Nader Shah in the 1740s and passed through several hands in South and West Asia. It eventually landed in the collection of Queen Victoria and has since remained a part of the Crown Jewels. However, there has been a dispute over the actual owners of the diamond between Great Britain, India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Legend has it that men would lose their power or their lives owning the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, which makes sense, given the bloody conflicts fought to obtain this stone. (Granted, women are somehow immune!)


8. Bela Lugosi's Mirror

Bela Lugosi reigns supreme as one of the world's most famous horror movie actors. However, did you know he had some personal interest in the occult? He was known to practice a form of clairvoyance that involved staring intensely at inanimate objects to receive messages from spirits. One of the objects of these clairvoyance exercises was a mirror that Bela Lugosi kept in his Hollywood Hills home. Bela's home was purchased by Frank Saletri, who was killed in his home. Bela Lugosi's mirror is now housed in a museum of haunted items in Las Vegas, donated after the niece of Frank Saletri inherited the mirror. The niece claimed that paranormal activity increased in her home after obtaining the mirror, feeling bites on her neck, and seeing dark silhouettes reflected in it.


9. Arshile Gorky Paintings

There are quite a few reportedly haunted paintings, but the body of work by Arshile Gorky is reputed to be cursed in general. (We guess that's one way to have a lasting legacy!) As a child, Arshile Gorky fled the Armenian genocide, escaping with his mother and sisters. His mother died a few years later, and Arshile went to live with his father. He later became a painter famed for his lyrical abstraction style. However, he befell a series of unfortunate events, including his studio barn burning down with many paintings inside and a car accident that left him temporarily paralyzed in the late 1940s. He later died a tragic death. Owners of Arshile Gorky paintings have reported them mysteriously falling from walls, catching fire, and even a plane holding several of Gorky's paintings crashed in a total fatality event.


10. James Dean's Car

James Dean Car

[Source: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive/sfgate.com]

It's hard to get more iconic than James Dean and his silver sports car. Porsche 550 Spyder cars were some of the fastest cars at the time of their manufacture, but they were also notoriously temperamental. They'd crumple like an aluminum can in a crash, which is what happened to James Dean on his way to a car race in Salinas in 1955. James Dean's car was auctioned and sold in parts, but owners of these auto pieces have reported fires, car crashes, and mysterious injuries. What was left of the car still toured and had its share of mishaps along the way. However, after an exhibition in Miami, the towing van and James Dean's car disappeared in 1960.


11. Black Prince's Ruby

There seems to be a trend with incredibly priceless jewels inviting violence into your life, but people have a reputation for jealousy and greed. The background of the Black Prince's Ruby is no exception. Its origins date back to an Arab prince in the 14th century, who was killed and had his possessions taken by Don Pedro. When Don Pedro asked for help quelling a revolt from the son of Edward III (a.k.a. the Black Prince), he accepted the ruby as payment. The ruby was later worn and nearly lost in a few English battle helmets, as the royal owners were greatly maimed and even killed. The jewel came to rest in the Imperial State Crown, which rests on display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London. The ruby is rumored to be cursed, passing misfortune onto those who own it. But, when you're constantly chasing wealth and power as the British monarchy did, who can honestly say if the jewel is to blame?


12. Great Bed of Ware

One of the most enormous beds to be of note in British history, the Great Bed of Ware was likely made as a tourist attraction for a Ware, Hertfordshire Inn. Its massive girth was the stuff of legend, even going so far as to attract the attention of Shakespeare and Lord Byron! It was practically twice the size of other Elizabethan-era beds. Sadly, the bed was also riddled with graffiti and wax seals from visitors and couples, like many restroom stalls and roadside attractions. The immense size of the bed led to tales of bawdiness and mischief, as one might suspect for a bed large enough for four people. However, the bed gained its haunted reputation after sleepers began to complain of mysterious bruises found in the morning and feeling like they were being beaten and scratched throughout the night. There is only speculation about why such happenings occurred, but it makes for a great story!


13. Busby's Chair

A category of cursed objects has been vaulted into infamy because of their connections to murderers and criminals. One such item is Busby's stoop chair, which belonged to Thomas Busby. Busby and his father-in-law were coin counterfeiters, and an argument about business ended in the death of Daniel Auty at the hands of Thomas Busby in 1702. Supposedly, prior to his arrest and execution, Busby placed a curse upon his chair. The chair has since gained a reputation for causing death or great misfortune to anyone who dares to take a seat. Busby's stoop chair can now be visited at the Thirsk Museum, which hangs from the wall to prevent anyone from sitting on it.


14. The Bronze Lady

Sleepy Hollow, New York (of Ichabod Crane fame!) also brings us The Bronze Lady. She is a statue located in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Samual Thomas had been a Civil War general and a successful businessman after the war. When he died in 1903, his wife Ann commissioned a mausoleum and a bronze statue. Legend recounts that sculptor Andrew O'Connor Jr. finished the sculpture, but Ann was unhappy that it looked so melancholy. So Andrew made a new, happier head and showed it to her. While she did like it better, he reportedly smashed it on the ground in front of her and declared that he would never replace the head on the statue. The Bronze Lady became a local legend, especially among the neighborhood kids. The curses change with the times, from sitting in her lap and peeking into the mausoleum's keyhole to touching the statue's face. They all allegedly invite misfortune, and it makes for an excellent tall tale for mischievous youngsters.


15. Myrtles Plantation Mirror

Myrtles Plantation Mirror

[Source: Yelp/Annie B./chron.com]

While the American South is renowned for its hospitality, it also has a dark history connected to plantations, superstition, and human exploitation. One very famous plantation was named the Myrtles plantation, with a rumored ten murders occurring in the house. (However, records only indicate one, that of William Winter.) While the home itself is reputed to be haunted, we'll be taking a look at one particular haunted item—the plantation mirror. Now, mirrors house their fair share of superstitions. Generally, people would cover mirrors with a cloth after someone's passing, but a mirror was overlooked on the Myrtles Plantation. It is rumored that the uncovered mirror now holds the spirits of Sarah Woodruff and her two girls. While we know they died of yellow fever, the legend is that they died from eating poisoned cake.


16. The Crying Boy Paintings

Italian painter Giovanni Bragolini painted the original The Crying Boy in the 1950s as part of a series of paintings of teary-eyed children. The images became an incredibly popular print, which could be found in many homes in the 50s and later. However, it wasn't until 1985 that a connection was made to the paintings being haunted. The Sun, a British tabloid, interviewed a firefighter who observed that undamaged copies of The Crying Boy paintings were frequently found in the rubble of burned buildings. Not long after, readers began sending their prints to The Sun, resulting in mass burnings of these unwanted artworks on Halloween night. Subsequent stories told the tales of families who claimed to have unusual incidents with owning a The Crying Boy painting. However, this phenomenon seems to be contained mainly in the UK.


17. Anna Baker's Wedding Dress

What's an old house without a legendary haunted object? Wealthy ironmaster Elias Baker built the Baker Mansion in Pennsylvania. Anna Baker's wedding dress is the most famous legend connected to the Baker Mansion. Unbeknownst to her father, Anna was in a relationship with a poor steel worker. They had already done a lot of the wedding planning, and she even bought a dress in preparation. When her father Elias found out, he stopped it by purchasing the steel mill that her fiancée worked at, forcing him to seek work elsewhere. (What a horrible power move!) After that, every marriage proposal presented to Anna by her father was turned down. Instead, she allegedly locked herself in her room and held onto the wedding dress until she died in 1914. After her death, other members of the Baker family reported random sightings of the dress around the house. as well as Anna's ghost wearing her unused wedding dress.


18. The Unlucky Mummy

When you watch movies about treasure hunters like Indiana Jones, you get the feeling that maybe ancient artifacts should be left alone. The Unlucky Mummy is one such artifact. While it is an inner coffin lid or mummy board instead of a wrapped mummy, that's just the nickname this artifact has held! We don't know whose coffin this lid was for, but it was likely made for a woman and dates back to 950-900 BCE. Little is known about the item's history pre-1889, when it was donated to the British Museum. (It was likely in the ownership of a private collector.) The mummy-board has been credited with several unsubstantiated claims of misfortune and even death. One such incident involves journalist Bertram Fletcher Robinson, who was researching a piece about the Unlucky Mummy. He was convinced that the coffin lid had malevolent properties, and he died mysteriously three years later, at 36.


19. Belcourt Castle Chairs

Belcourt Castle Chairs

[Source: Julie Bidwell for the Wall Street Journal/wsj.com]

A mansion in Newport, RI named Belcourt has since gone through the names "Belcourt Castle" and "Belcourt of Newport". This mansion, built in 1894, has passed through several owners and tastes, boasting such eccentricities as a collection of carriages and horses on the ground floor, gothic-style rooms with stained glass windows, a scrapped future as an antique auto museum, and a potential host for the Newport Jazz Festival. It eventually settled on being a museum, housing quite a few antiques from previous owners, with additions to the collection after it was obtained. The haunted chairs are some of Belcourt's most famous residents, although their history is largely unknown. Supposedly, a few chairs offer resistance if you try to sit in them and may even eject an unwanted guest. Others have also reported tingling sensations or chills running along their bodies when standing near the Belcourt Castle chairs. Can't get enough of spooky Belcourt? They also offer ghost tours!


We hope you loved learning about some haunted history! Are you a believer or a skeptic? Have you had the chance to see any of these cursed objects in person? We'd love to hear from you! Some of these items may be spooky enough to have lookalike Halloween decorations.

Angela Poch
Angela Poch

Angela Poch is an Inbound Marketing Specialist and Resident Crazy Cat Lady at HalloweenCostumes.com, where she is an assistant editor and covers tutorials, crafting and pop culture. Angela has created costumes and props for Halloween events, conventions and Renaissance festivals.

Some of her favorite costumes include 90s Rogue, a custom Jedi, warrior elf, and some nameless Renaissance pirate. (She’s still figuring out how to make a Jedi light-chakram.) You can find her on Twitter @AngelaPoch1 or her cats on Instagram @stardustnebulanova.

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