20 Of History’s Most Insanely Expensive Mistakes

We've all made mistakes that have hurt our wallets more than anything else. Maybe we used a non-affiliated ATM in a rush and had to eat that $2.50 charge, or perhaps we bought the wrong paint color but couldn't return an already-opened canister.

But in the grand scheme of financial errors, a dollar here and there pales in comparison to the most expensive mistakes in history. These are the mistakes that would clean out just about anyone's bank account or make them miss out on a lifetime's worth of riches.

If you aren't sitting down, you might want to do so, because these people, cities, and companies lost so much money that it might make you feel faint!

1. 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, which was caused by a faulty foundation, victimized quite a few apartments valued at $264 per square foot. Naturally, investors demanded their money back.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.