We’ve all seen the look of horror on a kid’s face after they’ve accidentally shattered a glass vase or sent a home-run hit soaring directly through a double-paned window. First there’s the jarring crash, then the unfortunate realization it’s gotta be paid for. No one likes to open their wallet when they don’t have to.
However, a glass vase or a window aren’t the kinds of costs that’ll break the bank. Some people, though, find themselves in blunders that have their accountants tearing their hair out and screaming “Why!?” Just be fortunate you’re not one of these people; it’s gonna take a lotta moolah to get them back on their feet.
1. In an effort to fuse molecules for a massive scientific breakthrough, Hank and Wallace brought in the world’s greatest particle accelerator. If only Wallace knew the difference between the “lower” and “tip over” buttons.
2. This wine cellar is where Rob keeps his most prized bottles from over the years. He found out today he had a wine he never knew about: Chateau de Disaster.
3. “Okay, who brought the fighter jet to the foam party? Was it you again, Klaus?” This is one way to ruin a perfectly fun gathering. It’s also one way to destroy two very expensive jets.
5. When it comes to moving companies, these guys swear by the method “lift first, measure later.” How they managed to get it stuck two feet off the ground is exactly what this cross-armed guy is thinking. Hmm?
5. His parents told him time and time again, “Mark, please refrain from parking on top of the garage.” Now Mark knows why, and he’s gonna be paying big bucks for his blunder.
6. Someone started out the day with $5,000 in their pocket, feeling on top of the world. Next thing they knew they pulled this compressed wad of cash out of the washing machine. Not too on top of the world anymore, huh?
7. Attention drivers: Anyone trying to get to work on Interstate 84 will experience delays of up to a year. Let your bosses know you might be back in the office next September.
8. This joyride took a sudden turn for the absolute worst when the driver became so mesmerized with the beauty of the ocean that they wanted to get a closer view. Now it’s the ocean that’s laughing.
9. At first, this looks like a huge disaster. But, optimists would look at this as an opportunity to split the whole house in two and then rent out one half. Boom! Additional income!
10. Rest in peace to the oldest jet in the fleet. He had a good run, but towards the end time was cruel and the Grim Reaper snatched him off Earth. You’ll be remembered, old friend.
11. There’s nothing quite like the triplets of expensive cars all facing the exact same demise. This guy assessing the damage is going to need a way bigger clipboard to gather all the information.
12. All the time and money that went into installing these energy-saving panels went to waste in a matter of 30 minutes due to hail. Saving energy quickly turned into spending money for replacements.
13. “No, Jeff! I said release the flotation device once we get out of the plane!” Hey, at least if the plane makes a crash landing into the ocean it’ll float.
14. Ladies and gentlemen, we have here not one, not two, but three massive mistakes! These fuselages all fell off a train, and they can be yours for the low price of fishing them out of the water!
15. Hmm, it seems like the people partying aboard these two Carnival cruise ships weren’t the only ones kicking back too much liquor. The captain and crew members clearly decided to imbibe, as well.
16. No, you’re supposed to place the MRI machine on the wheels! This was apparently about a five million dollar mistake! Looks like someone’s gonna be working overtime for the next 30 years.
17. When this guy’s $300,000 boat started to sink in the lake behind his home, he sank not only his pickup truck, but also his jeep in a failed attempt to get it out. That’s gonna hurt the wallet.
18. Ahh, good old Detroit. Home of the Pistons as well as trailer drivers who feel the need to knock over a whole collection of 2020 Shelby Gt500s in the middle of the highway.
19. Realtors had no idea when they sold this property it was on top of an undisclosed abandoned gypsum mine. Instead of fretting, maybe turn this sinkhole into a pool and increase the property value?
20. This is a 70 million dollar “whoops!” The insurance company will not be happy, nor will the dozens of people on their way to party it up. Looks like they’re all heading to the local pub instead.
21. The Millennium Bridge: England welcomed the new millennium with a big bridge over the River Thames in 2000. But just three hours after its opening, it shut down. Engineers didn’t realize that the heavy foot traffic would cause it to sway back and forth. The issue required an additional $6.6 million—on top of the $24.1 million already spent—to fix the issue.
Cerrepe / Flickr
22. China’s tower block collapse: It’s not often you see entire apartment complexes tip over, but that’s exactly what happened at Shanghai’s Lotus Riverside complex. The fall, caused by a faulty foundation, victimized quite a few apartments valued at $264 per square foot.
23. The lost bitcoin fortune: If you were lucky enough to invest in the online currency Bitcoin during its early years, you’d find it was a fruitful investment. That’s a fact Welsh IT worker James Howells has likely lost a lot of sleep over: his collection of 7,500 bitcoins grew to be worth $7.5 million in 2013. The problem? He accidentally threw the money away when he discarded his hard drive.
24. Apple’s third founder: Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak became household names as their tech company skyrocketed to fame. They might have had to share their success with a third founder, Ron Wayne, had he not sold his equity in 1976. Grated by Jobs, Wayne cashed out his 10 percent share of Apple for $800 early in the company’s history. If he’d held out until 2013, that same equity would have been worth $35 billion.
Cult of Mac
25. The Mars climate orbiter: It wasn’t a mechanical failure that cost NASA $327.6 million after the Mars Orbiter went down in a fiery blaze; it was human error. The teams tasked with navigating the orbiter used two different measurement systems while calculating trajectories—one team used metric, while the other used imperial. Whoops.
26. Russia sold Alaska: In possibly the worst deal ever, Russia dumped the territory of Alaska on the United States for the low fee of $7.2 million. Only 50 years later, Americans discovered quite a bit of gold in the Last Frontier, making the U.S. territory worth more than 100 times the original purchasing price.
Frank Kovalchek / Flickr
27. The too-heavy submarine: The thing about submarines is that they aren’t supposed to sink uncontrollably. In 2013, Spanish officials found they’d violated that golden rule when their new $2.3 billion submarine was 77 tons overweight thanks to a decimal error by an engineer. They needed $11.9 million and an additional three years to have it sea-ready.
28. Star Wars merchandise rights: George Lucas made a massive mistake when it came to his franchise (and it wasn’t just the Holiday Special). To get the green light to make Star Wars, he signed over the merchandising rights to 20th Century Fox. Big mistake. By 1978, action figures alone had generated more than $100 million with that number reaching $3 billion by 2011.
29. France’s fat trains: In 2014, the French train company SNCF realized they’d made a grave calculation error. See, they had just purchased 2,000 trains for $20 billion. But the trains were too fat to fit into most stations. The company had to pay an additional $68 million to widen some stations’ platforms.
Our Phellap~commonswiki / Wikimedia
30. Kurt Russell destroys a guitar: There’s a scene in the 2015 Quentin Tarantino movie The Hateful Eight where Kurt Russell’s character destroys a guitar. No one told him, though, that the guitar was an authentic, priceless instrument from the 1870s that was on loan from a Pennsylvania museum. Russell’s dedication to acting ended up actually destroying the artifact.
31. An expensive comma: Canadian phone company Bell Aliant managed to escape an $888,888 contract with Rogers Communications thanks to a comma error. According to The New York Times, the contract said: “This agreement shall be effective from the date it is made and shall continue in force for a period of five (5) years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five (5) year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.” Courts ruled the second comma meant the automatic renewal was not, in fact, automatic.
Tony Webster / Flickr
32. Howie Hubler’s trading loss: There have been better times in history to be a stock trader than the early 2000s, but for as bad as the market was, no one fared quite as poorly as Howie Hubler. The Morgan Stanley employee sold insurance on AAA-rated mortgages that ended up having no value and caused a $9 billion trading loss.
official-ly cool / Wikimedia
33. Oil spill on the Deepwater Horizon: Cost-cutting measures ended up costing BP $60.9 billion when some lousy cement aided in the leaking of 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Still the biggest oil spill of its kind, the disaster at Deepwater Horizon was a financial crisis on a scale that was rarely seen.
US Coast Guard
34. The New Jersey funding error: Every year, states apply for “Race to the Top” funding, a grant created by the Department of Education to help schools innovate and grow. In 2010, New Jersey missed out on $400 million dollars from the program thanks to a clerical error on the state’s application.
Good Free Photos
35. The Challenger disaster: The 1986 launch of the Challenger spacecraft cost seven astronauts their lives when the craft exploded just 73 seconds after launch. Compounding the tragedy of the situation, NASA spent a whopping $1.7 billion on a replacement craft.
36. Sinking of the Vasa: You have to hearken back to the olden days for this financial disaster, when Sweden launched Vasa, a new warship. The vessel only made it 4,000 feet before a strong gust of wind sank it. Looks like it probably wouldn’t have lasted long in a war anyway…
Javier Kohen / Wikimedia
37. Sinkhole at Lake Peigneur: When an oil rig working for Texaco drilled just a touch too deep, it accidentally collapsed the salt pillars holding up Louisiana’s Lake Peigneur. At the time, the lake was only six feet deep, but after the ensuing sinkhole formed by the drilling accident, the lake’s depth suddenly reached 1,300 feet. Texaco paid out $44.8 million in compensation—a costly error indeed.
38. Japan’s stock market error: In 2005, a Japanese stockbroker set the value of J-Com’s share price to one yen for 610,000 shares. The problem was that he was supposed to have set it to 610,000 yen for one share. That error costed J-Com 27 billion yen—or about $236 million—which was the near equivalent to their previous years’ total income.
Stéfan / Flickr
39. Excite passed on Google: You’ve likely never heard of the tech company Excite, but you very well could have… had its CEO not passed up on buying Google. For $750,000, the CEO could have absorbed the company that’s now worth $498 billion. Instead, he ended up selling to Ask Jeeves in 2004.
Internet History Podcast
40. Scott Thompson sells part of Yahoo! If you were an owner of Yahoo! stock in 2012, you might not feel too fondly about then-CEO Scott Thompson. He sold 20 percent of Yahoo! shares to the e-commerce business Alibaba, a move that dramatically backfired and ended up costing Yahoo! $54 billion.
Yahoo / Flickr