Whether they're genuine or a hoax, "cursed" objects seem to inspire a morbid curiosity. These supposed curses are typically the result of some tragic event that occurred long in the past, but there's also an unsettling number of reportedly cursed objects that have cropped up in only the last hundred years.
From haunted dolls to stolen jewels, objects that are said to carry a curse are sometimes as strange as the story behind them. This list covers some of the more well-known cursed items in history, as well as a few that often fly under the radar. Whether or not these curses can be believed, the stories behind them keep the legends alive.
Robert The Doll
Robert the doll was a life-size companion to a young boy named Gene Otto in the early 1900s. Several stories about Robert's origins - and how he became cursed - have circulated throughout the years, but the most common is that Gene's nanny cursed the doll after a falling out with the boy's parents.
After the casting of this supposed curse, Gene began talking to Robert as if the doll was a real person. Gene's parents said they could hear their son speaking to the doll all evening, and that they could even hear the doll responding in a guttural voice. Gene would also claim that Robert was responsible for various mischievous acts around the house.
Today, Robert resides at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, FL. Visitors who have taken their picture with Robert without asking permission and those who have made fun of the doll have later reported having terrible bouts of bad luck. Robert even receives letters from past visitors asking him for forgiveness.
The Phone Number 0888-888-888
The (allegedly) cursed phone number 0888-888-888 was disconnected after all three owners of the number died within a decade. The original owner, who happened to own a phone company, passed from cancer, although some rumors claim that a rival gave him radioactive poisoning. The number was then passed down to two different men involved in the mafia who were later gunned down on business trips.
The number was subsequently taken out of service, and when people curious about the legend called it, they received a message that the number was "Outside network coverage."
Thomas Busby's Chair
Thomas Busby was executed in 1702 after murdering his father-in-law and another man in North Yorkshire, England. According to legend, Busby said before his execution, "May death come to anyone who dare sit in my chair."
After Busby's death, multiple reports arose of people dying or meeting some other tragedy after sitting in the "cursed" chair. One man was found hanging outside the Busby Stoop Inn after sitting in the chair, and soldiers who sat in the chair during WWII are said to have not made it back alive.
The chair now hangs from a wall in England's Thirsk Museum so that no one can accidentally curse themselves by sitting in it. The museum also displays a plaque with the stories of the chair's supposed victims.
Annabelle The Doll
Currently talking to the owner of the REAL Annabelle doll right now on air.— Niall Boylan (@Niall_Boylan) October 31, 2018
Below are pictures that @tony_spera sent us of the doll. He is on air now telling us the spooky story connected to the doll and his parents-in-law Ed and Lorraine Warren #Halloween2018 #IrelandTalks pic.twitter.com/d8Lh02HmAI
Fans of horror films know Annabelle the Haunted Doll from The Conjuring franchise, but the real Annabelle is a seemingly harmless Raggedy Ann doll. According to demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, Annabelle is possessed by a demonic energy that attempted to kill its previous owners.
After taking Annabelle into their custody, the Warrens claimed that people who made fun of the doll while visiting their occult museum were met with some sort of misfortune. One man reportedly even crashed his motorcycle after provoking Annabelle.
In 2020, rumors that Annabelle had escaped from her glass case at the Warrens' museum inspired multiple videos on TikTok, proving the doll still has a loyal following.
The Delphi Purple Sapphire
Also known as the "Cursed Amethyst," the Delphi Purple Sapphire was stolen from the Temple of Indra in 1857 and brought to England by Colonel W. Ferris, who quickly lost his fortune and health. His son supposedly encountered the same bad luck, and a friend took his own life after coming in contact with the gem. After that, seemingly everyone who came in contact with the Delphi Purple Sapphire met some sort of misfortune, such as a singer who lost her voice after acquiring the stone.
The Delphi Purple Sapphire has been on display at London's Natural History Museum since 2007, and the curator who acquired the gem noted that he ran into a terrible storm while it was in his car.
'The Crying Boy' Painting
Crying boy painting you ask? Please don't play dumb my people, yall know which one I'm taking about pic.twitter.com/233LxZm3io— Ryan Cummings (@Pol_Sec_Analyst) May 21, 2018
One of the more unusual haunted items, The Crying Boy was a painting by Spanish artist Giovanni Bragolin that was mass-produced and distributed in post-war England. Reportedly, many of the homes in which the painting was displayed caught on fire soon after the painting was purchased. In some cases, the only thing to survive the flames was The Crying Boy. Firefighters supposedly began to believe that the paintings were cursed.
In a 2010 investigation into the painting, researchers discovered that the paintings were coated in a fire repellent, which was likely the reason why so many survived the flames.