Legend has it that the infamous Hope diamond brings misfortune to whoever owns it. Well, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History added the magnificent sky-blue gemstone to its collection 53 years ago today (Nov.10), and the institution has fared just fine so far.
As the museum states on its website, it "appears to have maintained the Hope curse-free."
So what's the evidence that the Hope diamond is cursed?
There are plenty of stories of the stone's owners meeting horrible fates, but scholars tend to believe that many of these tales were cooked up or embellished on, at one time or another, by the gem's various owners, in hopes that an incredible history would fetch the diamond a better price in a sale. The diamond has changed hands many times, and for a few periods in its life, the name of the owner is lost to history.
Here, we'll focus on the people who owned the rock for the most significant chunks of time, and whose fates historians can confirm.
The most commonly accepted origin of the curse dates back to 1653, when a French merchant named Jean Baptiste Tavernier obtained the original 115-carat blue diamond in India. The story goes that Tavernier plucked the gem from one of the eyes of a Hindu idol and, for this sacrilege, was later mauled to death by dogs. In fact, the story is a myth: Tavernier returned to France and sold the gem to King Louis XIV for a pretty penny, after which he retired to Russia and died peacefully there. Scholars even question how Tavernier came upon the gem, as a second diamond never turned up, and no one else ever found the statue in question.
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