Some things are irreplaceable and once they are gone, they are gone forever. Check out these 10 valuable objects destroyed by sheer clumsiness, stupidity, stubbornness or completely unforeseen circumstances.
1The George Harrison Tree…destroyed by beetles!
You might have seen this in the news lately.
Of course, everyone knows that George Harrison was a member of one of the biggest bands in history, The Beatles. He was more than a musician. He also a successful filmmaker, humanitarian, and spiritual person who brought Eastern music and culture to the western masses. Last but not least, in his spare time Harrison was an avid gardener.
In 2004, a few years after his death, Harrison was honored in Los Angeles' Griffith Park with a tree planted in his memory. A plaque at the base of the tree reads: "In memory of a great humanitarian who touched the world as an artist, a musician and a gardener."
Unfortunately, the tree has been killed by, get this, beetles! Bark beetles have been wreaking havoc on trees all over the park. One can only imagine Harrison, who died in Los Angeles in 2001, chuckling at the irony.
A new tree is expected to be planted in the near future.
All Things Must Pass indeed, George!
2The man who elbowed a Picasso
Steve Wynn is one of the richest men in the world. The casino resort developer practically owns half of Las Vegas with renovating the Golden Nugget casino and opening the Mirage, the Belagio and the aptly-named Wynn Las Vegas megaresort.
The tycoon is also an avid collector of art. Among the gems in his art collection are J.M.W. Turner's Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio,” a $33.2 million dollar Rembrandt and several Monets.
The centerpiece of the Wynn's art collection, however, is Pablo Picasso's Le Rêve. The portrait was also the working name of the Bellagio resort. Picasso was 50 when he painted this masterpiece of his 22-year old mistress, Marie Therese-Walter. In a special touch, he even painted half of her face in the shape of a penis!
Wynn purchased the painting from a collector in 2001 and was about to sell in 2006 for a cool $139 million when the unthinkable happened.
While showing off the painting to friends Nora Ephron and Barbara Walters, Wynn, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, which affects his peripheral vision and who is known for making grand gestures while he talks, accidentally put his elbow through the painting.
The damages cost $90,000 to fix. Although the painting was then re-valued at $85 million, Wynn sold it in 2013 for $155 million.
3The fresco that became famous after being botched
Elias Garcia Martinez's 122-year-old Ecce Homo painting is likely to have attracted little attention outside the Spanish town of Borja, if it were not for the “restoration” work done by the then 80-year-old Cecilia Gimenez.
Noticing that the fresco inside of the church was flaking badly due to the moisture in the building, an elderly devotee decided to take it upon herself to “restore” the painting.
Acting without authorization from anyone involved with the church, Gimenez painted over the work with, shall we say, extremely amateur broadstrokes, resulting in the depiction of Christ looking more like an ape. Originally called Ecce Homo (Behold the Man), the painting is now affectionately referred to as Ecce Mono (Behold the Monkey).
The church where the painting resides has since become a tourist attraction and when visits skyrocketed, they began to charge admission to see the botched fresco. At one point, €2000 ($2600) was collected in just four days with the money going to a local charity.
It seems the painter, whose work the world laughed at, has the last laugh. Gimenez recently signed a merchandising contract that will allow her to take in 49 percent of the profits that come from the sale of tote bags and other items that feature the Ecce Mono's likeness.
4The Taliban destruction of 1,700-year-old statues
In Afghanistan, a few months before September 11, 2001, supreme Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar issued an edict against un-Islamic graven images, which meant all idolatrous images of humans and animals. The result was the destruction of all non-Islamic statues.
Among those were the world's largest Buddhist statues, situated at the foot of the Hindu Kush mountains of central Afghanistan. The statues stood for approximately 1,700 years.
It is said that the Taliban acted out in retaliation after requesting humanitarian aid from the international community for over a year as their country was being ravaged by drought, earthquakes, and war. However, no aid was forthcoming as long as the Taliban harbored international terrorists like Osama bin Laden. (Yeah, destroy beloved statues that have stood for centuries, you'll be sure to get humanitarian aid that way, Taliban.)
A Japanese parliamentary delegation offered aid in exchange for moving the statues out of the country and Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, had pleaded with the Taliban's foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, to save Afghanistan's cultural heritage, but both requests were denied.
After failing to destroy the 1,700-year-old statues of Buddha with anti-aircraft and tank fire, the Taliban brought a truckload of dynamite from Kabul and drilled holes into the torsos of the two statues, placed dynamite inside the holes and boom went the Buddahs.
5The museum employee who tore Napoleon's chair
Earlier in 2014, an employee of the Museum of Fine Arts could no longer resist the temptation of sitting where Napoleon Bonaparte's derriere once was, on his folding chair.
In what surely looked like a scene out of a classic slapstick film, the red leather that was part of the director's style chair tore when the employee sat in it and its wooden structure was also damaged.
The first emperor of France used the chair during several campaigns.
Have no fear, the chair has since been restored. As museum curator Philippe Costamagna explained, “The end result is that the chair has now been very well restored, which it previously had been, but less well.”
Here's an idea for the museum to recoup restoration costs: get the surveillance footage of the incident, put it on a loop, put a little “Yakety Sax” as the soundtrack and sell a DVD of it at the museum's gift shop!
The employee faced “a disciplinary hearing.” I'm sure the museum had a “Bonaparte” to pick with him.
6The man who tripped and caused $849,000 in damages
If you have ever seen a Qing Dynasty vase, you know that they are stunning works of art. The attention to detail is truly a sight to behold.
In 2006, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England had an exhibition that featured three Qing Dynasty vases.
Although the museum director valued the vases at £500,000 ($849,000), how did the museum display the three Chinese porcelain dating from the 17th century? They kept the priceless vases on an unguarded windowsill at the base of a staircase… completely unprotected!
Enter museum visitor Nick Flynn of Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire. The 42-year-old man told reporters that he had gone up the wrong staircase. As he swung around to come down, Flynn tripped over his untied shoelace and fell down the stairs right into the Qing Dynasty vases, shattering them into hundreds of tiny pieces.
Flynn picked himself off the floor and left the museum, but not before he was photographed amidst the rubble of broken vases.
Flynn was later found and arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.
Contrary to popular belief, he was not banned from the museum, but as the museum director said, “staff had thought it wise he should stay away in the immediate aftermath of the incident.”
7The most expensive car crash in history
In December 2011, along China Road in the Yamaguchi Prefecture of Japan, a group of exotic car owners went for a drive after a car show.
All was going smoothly until the gentleman in the Ferrari F430 attempted to pass a Toyota Prius who was going a little too slow for his liking in the fast lane. The Ferrari lost control and hit a guardrail, setting off a chain reaction of a multiple car crash that included seven other Ferraris – a 360 Modena, F355 and a white Testarossa – a Lamborghini Diablo and a few high-end Mercs.
Although injuries were pretty light, the total amount of damage exceeded $4 million.
8The man who dropped a $78,000 bottle
Ah, to be rich and have disposable income!
Take mixologist Salvatore Calabrese, creator of what would have been the world's most expensive cocktail.
The cocktail concoction would have consisted of 40ml of 1788 Clos de Griffier Vieux Cognac, 20ml of 1770 Kummel Liqueur, 20ml of 1860 Dubb Orange Curacao and two dashes of Angostura Bitters from the 1900s.
If you wanted the drink, it would have set you back £5,500 (about $8,800).
The famous bartender was working at the Playboy club in London when in June 2012, a customer decided to order the drink and asked to see the bottle of 1788 Clos de Griffier Vieux that was supposed to make up the bulk of his drink.
The bottle was valued at $78,000. Notice I said was? Yep, the customer dropped the bottle before Calabrese could add the Clos de Griffier Vieux to the drink, shattering both the bottle and the famed bartender's dreams of making the world's most expensive drink.
The bottle was insured which made it a bit easier for Salvatore to forgive the customer.
9The 1,425 year-old monastery that was accidentally bombed
In the year 529, St. Benedict of Nursia founded his Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino in Cassino, Italy, about 81 miles from Rome. St. Benedict is known for starting Christian monasticism in Europe.
On February 15, 1944, during World War II, the Abbey of Monte Cassino was almost completely destroyed in a series of heavy American-led air-raids when bombers dropped 1,400 tons of bombs on the building.
American forces believed that German soldiers were stationed there and were using the abbey as a lookout post and a potential super-fortress when in fact, the Germans stuck up a deal with the monks that they were not to use the abbey as a fortress and the monks could remain there.
In recent years, it has come to light that the bombing was due to the error of a British junior officer.
In addition to the enormous loss of life following the bombing that reduced much of the monastery to rubble, many beautiful mosaics, enamels, and handcrafted golds sculptures were forever lost.
10The art the Nazis stole…forever lost?
Between 1933 and end of the war in 1945, the Nazis looted an incredible 20% of all the art in Europe!
Even though many pieces have been recovered, there are still an estimated 100,000 pieces of art lost. In some cases, they looted the pieces because they weren't deemed “German” enough. In other cases, it was all down to greed.
Nazis stole artwork to beef up their own museums and personal collections. German leaders like Herman Goering turned their homes into virtual museums. They also raided many Jewish families for precious artwork before sending them off to concentration camps.
The famous Amber Room in Russia is one of many countless examples of incredible missing art. The room housed one of the largest works of jeweled art ever made. Literally tons of high quality amber, diamonds, emeralds, jade, onyx and rubies decorated the walls of Catherine the Great's summer palace in Russia. The Germans disassembled the room and displayed the treasures at a castle in Kalingrad for a few years.
In January 1945, air raid attacks by the British forced the Germans to disassemble the Amber Room again and store it in a safe location. The location remains unknown. The crates holding the Amber Room were never seen again.
Recently, pieces by Monet, Renoir, Picasso along with Matisse's Le Mur Rose have been recovered. In fact, just last November, German authorities found a trove of 1,280 paintings, drawings, and prints worth more than a billion dollars in the Munich apartment of a lonely art dealer.
You never know, the contents of the Amber Room could be in unmarked boxes in a nondescript building out there.