9 Cursed Treasures

1The Cahuenga Pass Treasure

Beneath this tree lies the treasure...?

When it comes to the number of dead bodies associated with a particular stash of gold, the cursed Cahuenga Pass treasure tops the list. Throw in a famous Hollywood landmark and you've got a particularly tantalizing legend. With a story as winding as the Cahuenga mountains themselves, it begins in 1864 when four soldiers sent by Benito Juarez went to San Francisco with a treasure trove of coins and jewels to purchase munitions for the Mexican war. Along the way, one of the men died, and the other three buried the bounty for safekeeping. However, a wanderer named Diego Morena was watching, and he made off with the money soon afterward, traveling down south and stopping in the mountains above Los Angeles in what was known as the Cahuenga Pass. That night, while staying in a local tavern, he had a dream that he would die if he brought the loot with him to L.A. Panicked, he buried the treasure. But guess what? He still died! But not before telling his friend Jesus Martinez where it was buried. Martinez set out to find the money with his stepson but he had a heart attack and died as they began digging; a decade later, the stepson was killed in a shootout in East Los Angeles. A small bit of the treasure was found in 1885 by a Basque shepherd, but he too perished when he fell overboard on his way back to Spain, with the gold in his pockets sinking him to the bottom of the ocean. In 1939, oil expert Henry Jones attempted to dig for the treasure in an area that butted up against the Hollywood Bowl. On Nov. 27 of that year, a film crew watched as they excavated... dirt. Jones committed suicide because of the failure later that year, adding one more victim to the body count for a total of 9 (if you include the 4 soldiers, who also met untimely deaths).

2The Charles Island Curse

This is not just about a treasure that's cursed, but the entire island surrounding it. This small island off the coast of Millford, Connecticut is also known as Thrice Cursed Island. First, the chief of the Paugussett tribe considered the area sacred. "Any shelter will crumble to the Earth, and he shall be cursed," he said when Europeans tried to settle there. He was right - no buildings have stood there for any long period of time.

The pirate Captain Kidd was also said to have cursed it in 1699 during his last voyage; it is his treasure that is said to be buried here. In 1721, a third hex was placed upon the spot, supposedly by Mexican Emporer Guatmozin, whose riches were stolen and allegedly hidden there by sailors. In 1850, two treasure hunters did find a chest, but when they opened it they were greeted by a flaming skull and were then either executed by spirits or spent the rest of their lives in an insane asylum.

Either way, no other treasure has been found, and people report mysterious lights and sounds emanating from the island.

3Oak Island Money Pit Curse

"Forty Feet Below Two Million Pounds are Buried."

The mystery of Oak Island was first discovered by teenage boys in 1795, who saw strange lights near the tiny island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. Upon further investigation, the boys noticed a freshly dug hole. Because pirates were rampant in the area, it seemed possible that a large amount of treasure was buried there. The farther they dug down, the stranger it got. There were wooden barriers, layers of coconut shells, and even an etched stone with a strange code, which was deciphered to read, Forty Feet Below Two Million Pounds are Buried .

People from all over the world have been trying to find the elusive treasure (including future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt), and it still continues to this day. No one has uncovered who buried what or why, and many people have died trying to find these answers.

The first recorded fatality was in 1861 when a pump exploded, killing a worker. In 1897, a man named Maynard Kaizer died when a rope that was lifting him from the pit fell off the pulley. In 1951, a huge clamshell digger slipped off a barge and sunk. The most devastating tragedy occurred in 1965, when adventurer Robert Restall, his son, and two co-workers succumbed to noxious fumes after falling into the pit.

One legend has it that seven people must die before the money is found. According to this tally, the number is now at 6. Care to be the 7th?

4The Lost Dutchman Mine

This is Jessee Capen, the latest victim of the "curse."

Nestled in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona lies a fabled treasure and notorious curse. The Apache tribe that lived there knew the area was filled with gold, but their own legend of the vengeful Thunder God convinced them to stay away from it. The Spaniard Francisco Vasquez de Coronado attempted to mine for it, but when his men began turning up dead and mutilated he gave the mountains their ominous name.

In 1845, Don Miguel Peralta found a vein of gold, but was massacred by angry Apaches. The gold they found was strewn throughout the area, and the entrance to the mine was destroyed. The area became a haven for gold seekers; a descendant of Peralta claimed to find gold, and a man named Dr. Abraham Thorne was also led to a gold-rich spot by friendly Native Americans.

However, where the name - and the curse - comes from is associated with Jacob Walz (or Waltz) - who wasn't a “Dutchman” but rather a Deutchman (he was from Germany), but the name stuck. After 20 years of searching Walz claimed to have found the magical veins of gold, but died before revealing its location. In 1931, treasure hunter Adolph Ruth disappeared while searching for the mine - his skull was found two years later, along with a note which read “Veni Vidi Vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered” in Latin), suggesting that he did find the gold before his death.

Since then, many others have have died trying to find this elusive treasure, the most recent being Jesse Capen, a bellhop from Denver, whose body was discovered in 2012 - three years after he left on an expedition to find the mine.

5The Curse of the Amber Room

This is the original Amber Room.

In the final days of World War II, there was plenty of pillaging of gold and treasures by both sides. Famous paintings and loot simply disappeared, including an entire room - the Amber Room. It was dubbed “The Eighth Wonder of the World” and was a gift to Peter the Great in 1716, celebrating peace between Russia and Prussia. It was adorned floor-to-ceiling with mosaics and jewels, with walls made from 20 hues of amber, considered a precious commodity back in the day, and, from all reports, stunning in its Baroque beauty.

In 1941, the Nazis seized control of it and dismantled it for safekeeping. After being displayed in a museum in 1943, the Amber Room disappeared. Since then, people associated with the room have supposedly fallen under its curse. The museum curators, Alfred Rhode and his wife, died of typhus and their bodies vanished, along with the doctor who signed their death certificate. Russian General Gusev, who had been linked to the room, also died in a mysterious car crash. Most strangely, Georg Stein, one of the most prominent Amber Room hunters, was found dead in a Bavarian forest, naked, with his stomach sliced open with a scalpel.

6Koh-i-Noor Diamond Curse

"Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity."

The curse of the Koh-i-Noor, one of the oldest and most famous jewels in the world, goes back to 1306. This was the year the diamond, whose name means “Mountain of Light,” had its first recorded appearance, but it is believed to be much older. The Hindu text accompanying the 105 carat diamond, once the largest in the world, read, "He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity." It's true, as many male rulers who owned it perished, including Nadir Shah, who was assassinated in 1747.

When Queen Victoria was given the diamond in July of 1850, she was reportedly so unimpressed with it that she had it reshaped and cut into smaller diamonds. Still, in deference to the “curse,” no male heirs have been allowed to wear them. The diamonds are still on display in the Tower of London.

7The Ark of the Covenant Curse

The Lost Ark

The Ark of the Covenant, according to Jews and Christians, is a holy relic containing the broken tablets of the Ten Commandments that Moses received from God. It was also said to be a means of Holy communication. As such, it is believed to have great powers; when the Israelites were banished from Egypt, the Ark was said to have parted the Jordan river so they could escape. The Ark was also credited for the fall of Jericho. But when in the wrong hands, it was said to bring terrible curses.

When the Philistines captured the Ark, the entire city came down with a deadly case of hemorrhoids; they soon returned it to the Israelites.

In ancient writings, there were rules about handling the Ark. The poles holding it should not be removed, the Ark should be carried on the shoulders, and whoever touches the Ark shall die. There are many more stories of the wrath of the Ark in the Bible, and its whereabouts today are unknown. Many people are now familiar with it because of the Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. People still search for clues to where it may reside, but with that kind of power, you may not want to be the one find it.

8Quin Shi Huang's Toxic Tomb, China

Here's one of the oldest known tombs that may never be opened. China's first Emperor, Quin Shi Huang, died on Sept 10, 210 B.C., burying with him hundreds of slaves, concubines, gold and jewels, as well as thousands of incredibly detailed terracotta statues.

The site is larger than the Great Pyramid, and while many rooms and areas have been excavated, the actual mausoleum holding the great Emperor remains off-limits. Why? There are writings recording numerous booby traps protecting the area, but those may or may not be true. What is certain, however, is that the site is surrounded by a thick river of Mercury that, if penetrated, could have deadly consequences for the excavators and toxins could be released that would affect the entire area. Therefore, in the 50 years they've been exploring, archaeologists are still too afraid to peer inside.

9Was King Tut's Tomb Cursed?

The so-called Curse of the Pharaohs is well-known. Essentially, the claim is that anyone who disturbs one of the ancient Kings of Egypt will die a horrible death.

Perhaps the most famous example -- and the instigating incident of this rumor -- was due to the death of George Herbert, known as Lord Carnarvon, who financed the project to unseal King Tut's tomb; he died of a mosquito bite months after the expedition. But did others present suffer a similar fate? Australian researcher Mark R. Nelson looked into it and published his findings in the British Medical Journal.

Identifying 44 Westerners who traveled to Egypt with the expedition, and separating out those who were actually present at the excavation and unearthing, he found that the mean age of death for those exposed vs. unexposed was 70 vs. 75, respectively, thus proving that there is indeed no “mummy's curse.” Tell that to Lord Carnaveron...