Don’t look into the mirror while reading this list.
Y’know, cursed objects are a funny thing. And by, “funny” I mean terrifying because just looking at them (not to mention touching) feels forbidden. Heck, I had shivers down my spine just writing this roundup. But, alas, I made it through the other side of my inquiries with my sanity still intact, so I think you’re OK to read this. Actually, one might even consider this essential reading, as in, you should know what you’re getting into and where you’re getting into it if you either choose to run to or steer clear of the items below.
Case in point–when I started my research, I was planning on mentioning a painting called, “The Hands That Resist Him.” I won’t link it here, and you’ll soon find out why. It depicts a little boy standing next to a doll—who seems to be holding some sort of object I can’t quite make out—with hollow eyes. The two are poised in front of a window and behind them, there are hands pressed all over the glass. It’s unnerving to say the least, and the longer I looked at it, the more uncomfortable I got. And then came the digging.
Turns out, the depiction was completed in 1974 by an artist named Bill Stoneham, who based it off of a photograph his parents captured of him when he was a child. Soon after Stoneham finished it, it entered a gallery where it was reviewed by a Los Angeles Times art critic. Later, The Godfather actor John Marley swooped in and scooped it up. The painting’s dark fame was just getting off the ground, though. Within six years, the gallery owner, the art critic, and Marley all died. Before he passed away, however, Marley sold the painting–it wouldn’t be seen for 26 years, popping up on eBay in 2000. The then-owners claimed that while they initially found the work to be quite good, it was much more than it appeared to be. The four-year-old daughter of the family came to her father one morning and said that she’d seen the doll and the boy from the painting fighting during the night. To quell her worries, the father reassured her and even went so far as to set up a motion-sensitive camera that faced the art. However, he claimed in the eBay post that when he looked back at the footage, he saw the boy crawl from the painting, forced out by the doll whose mysterious hand-held object had morphed into a gun. The painting was eventually sold to a gallery owner who placed it in her establishment in Grand Rapids.
I don’t really believe in ghosts until I do (if you get my flow), and my Internet has gone down several times since viewing “The Hands That Resist Him,” so I refuse to include it in this list (I had to draw the line somewhere!) because I care about you, reader. Anyway, go forth and, just for good measure, sage the area in which you’re reading this afterward.
The Annabelle Doll
WHERE: Monroe, Connecticut (inside Warren’s Occult Museum)
The doll’s name comes from the alleged girl who possesses it. In the early 1970s, a young college student named Donna gave the doll to Ed and Lorrain Warren, a now-famous (courtesy of the aforementioned big-screen horror films) pair of paranormal investigators. Originally, Donna received the doll as a gift from her mother, who purchased it an antique shop. Over time, Donna and her roommate noticed that the doll had a tendency to…move, be it from locations throughout the apartment, or positions—upright, legs crossed, etc.
Later, after these realizations, things escalated.
Donna would find notes reading, “Help,” in the apartment, and one night even came home to Annabelle re-positioned and covered in a red substance. That’s when she decided to contact a medium. Surefooted in the answer, the medium told the girls that the doll was inhabited by the spirit of someone who was killed in their building. However, when their cautious friend Lou voiced his concerns that something more sinister was afoot, the story goes that Annabelle attacked and killed Lou when he got up to investigate noises while hanging out at the girls’ apartment one night. At their wit’s end, the girls contacted the Warrens (via a priest), who decided the doll contained a demon straight from hell. When an exorcism failed to do the trick, the Warrens agreed to move the doll to a secure location—inside a glass box at their museum in Connecticut.
Fun fact: Unlike how it’s depicted in the films on which it’s based, the real Annabelle is actually a Raggedy Ann doll.
The Hope Diamond
WHERE: Washington, D.C.
Weight? 45 carats. Color? Violet. Status? Haunted. Perhaps.
It’s one of the most famous diamonds in the world, so maybe this isn’t so surprising? Although, many have speculated that reports of a curse are simple efforts to increase the object’s air of mystery, let’s indulge a bit, shall we? In its earliest form, the diamond—which was most likely cut from a mine in India—is said to have been stolen from a statue; the thief was subjected to an extremely unfortunate death. This kicked off what seemed to be a string of upsetting fates for many of the individuals who owned or even touched it over the years: Jacques Colet died by suicide, Princess de Lamballe was killed in a massacre in the French Revolution, and merchant Jean Le Tavernier was mauled by wild dogs, just to name a few. You can breathe a sigh of relief though because since Harry Winston donated the diamond to The Smithsonian in 1958, the alleged curse seems to have abated.
The Terracotta Army
WHERE: Shaanxi, China
OK, so, maybe this one isn’t so much as cursed as it is the harbinger of an extremely unfair situation, but I’ll let you decide. Farmers discovered the iconic terracotta figurines of warriors, chariots, and horses which depict the army of the first emperor of China in 1974. The works of art were buried with the emperor in 210 B.C. to commemorate his empire, and the area has since become a destination (a UNESCO one, in fact) for travelers all around the world to cross off their bucket lists.
Over time, though, the farmers and the land they lived off of became overshadowed by the government, businessmen, and third-party officials who wanted nothing more than to gaze (and profit) upon the warriors. And, wouldn’t you know it, the farmers received not a dime for the find. In fact, their 2,000-year-old village—which originally believed that disturbing the Army would cause misfortune—was, sure enough, unfortunately, claimed by the state and demolished, only to be substituted for gift shops.
The Goddess of Death Statue (AKA the Woman From Lemb)
WHERE: The Royal Scottish Museum
If the first question out of your mouth upon seeing this is, “What…am I looking at exactly?” the best answer this writer can provide you with (at the moment) is “I don’t know.” The little I do know about this limestone statue, though, pertains to its cursed nature. The artifact was crafted around 3500 B.C., (and found in Cyprus in 1878) and, of the families it’s belonged to over the generations, each one has been torn apart by death. Within six years of ownership, all seven members of the first family had perished. Once the second owner, Ivor Menucci, acquired it, death came for him and his family after only four years. The statue then vanished for a long while, but when a new (third) family eventually laid claim to it, several members died. However, two of the remaining members very wisely donated the artifact to the Royal Scottish Museum.
The Dark Mirror
WHERE: Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and Occult
The “world’s only mobile museum of the unexplained” holds this mysterious reflector, which seems to literally take on a life of its own. The museum obtained it from the original owner who purchased it while attending a psychic fair in the Columbus area. That same owner said they were struck with very upsetting visions when gazing into the scrying mirror’s dark reflection. According to the museum, visitors also claim to have also reported uncomfortable sightings, such as their own corpse, when gazing into the reflective glass.
Whether you consider this an “object” or not is up to you (I’m on team “object”), but it was just too wild to leave off this list. In short, several people who had the phone number “0888-888-888” have died in pretty intense fashions. The number’s first holder, former Mobitel CEO Vladimir Grashnov, died of cancer (at just 48!) in 2001. The number was then passed to a Bulgarian mob boss who was shot and killed by an assassin in 2003. After that, the number became businessman Konstantin Dishliev’s until he was fatally shot outside of a restaurant in 2005. The number was suspended after that and mobile phone company Mobitel did not provide details as to why.
The Dybbuk Box
WHERE: Zak Bagan’s The Haunted Museum
Attained by paranormal fanatic Zak Bagan in 2017, this well-known wine box is allegedly possessed by a dybbuk, which, in Jewish mythology, is a malicious and possessing demon. The item—which inspired the 2012 horror film, The Possession—gained attention when it was auctioned on eBay in 2001 by a man who claims he bought it at an estate sale and its original owner was a survivor of the Holocaust. The man reported encountering strange activity occurring when the box was around, including horrific nightmares. The object was made even more famous in 2018 when singer Post Malone touched it on an episode of Ghost Adventures and has reportedly been dealing with the consequences ever since.