Costly Mistakes That End Up Losing These Companies A Fortune

No matter how much companies invest in unbelievable engineering projects, no matter how many brilliant brains you have working on a project for corporations supported by the likes of United Airlines, there’s always a probability that something could malfunction.

Photo by Zhang Hengwei/China News Service via Getty Images

From expensive submarines that cannot float to one-of-a-kind rare guitars accidentally destroyed by Hollywood actors, expensive mistakes can (and do) happen, losing companies thousands, even billions of dollars. Several of these projects would have easily been saved by a simple text, while others were disasters from the beginning.

The Non-Floating Submarine

When: 2013
Where: Spain
Who: Navantia
Losses: $2.2 billion

Even airheads know that a submarine has one main job: floating. Despite paying about $2.2 billion to develop a new, cutting-edge Isaac Peral Submarine in 2013, the Spanish government didn’t even use it because of this immensely expensive error.

Photo by Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty Images

The submarine was so incredibly massive that it couldn’t float correctly. Engineers investigated the issue and concluded that there had been a miscalculation. Luckily, the design didn’t make it to the production stage, but it still lost the government a ridiculous sum of money.

Stations Couldn’t House Wide Trains

When: 2014
Where: France
Who: RFF provided incorrect dimensions to SNCF
Losses: $68 million

Railroads and the Metro are heavily utilized in France, so when the train company SNCF invested in a new transportation plan, it made perfect sense. But even plans with the best intentions can be poorly executed.

Source: Wikipedia

2,000 new trains worth more than $20.5 billion hit railways in 2014, but with a sizable issue. They were way too wide, or as BBC called them, too “fat,” to safely slip by each other on the tracks. The error cost SNCF nearly $70 million.

Abandoned Mine Found Underneath Neighborhood

When: 2020
Where: South Dakota, USA
Who: Dakota Plaster Company
Losses: $10-15 million

When buying a house, make sure to double-check with the realtor that it’s not sitting on a huge, colossal, abandoned mine. A bunch of South Dakota residents didn’t check when they paid a fortune for their beautiful, newly-built houses in 2014.

Source: Imgur

One resident was tending to his lawn when he suddenly saw the sinkhole. Twelve families were eventually evacuated. Investigators found that a giant 600 feet long gypsum mine was located directly underneath the properties, rendering them unsafe – and completely worthless.

The Titanic

When: 1912
Where: North Atlantic Ocean
Who: White Star Line
Losses: $7.5 million ($400 million with inflation)

In 1912, the Titanic was a true example of engineering genius. Indeed, at such a high cost, it was a passenger ship unlike anything before. With stunning staterooms and a sweeping staircase, it was more like a 5-star hotel that could float.

Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images

Tragically, we know the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. Despite being ridiculously expensive, the Titanic had many issues, including poorly made rivets and only 16 lifeboats to hold over 3,300 passengers.

Stuck at the Shore

When: 2019
Where: Auckland Beach, New Zealand
Who: Little Shoal Bay Boating Club
Losses: $50,000

Parking your vehicle in a safe spot is an absolute necessity. You wouldn’t put a brand-new Tesla on a beach, but someone thought it was a smart idea to test their luck with a 4×4 Land Rover.

Source: Reddit

It’s unclear why this happened or why the owner thought it was a place for an expensive car. However, the digger sent to rescue the 4×4 also got stuck and sat fully submerged in the sand and mud for over three days.

Losing an Airplane Window in-Flight

When: 1990
Where: Airspace over Didcot, Oxfordshire
Who: British Airways
Losses: $2.8 million

In 1990, one of the most dreadful airplane incidents was captured on video in real-time. A flight was soaring over Oxfordshire when suddenly the pressure inside the cockpit caused the front window to fly off – sucking pilot Tim Lancaster out of the plane.

Source: Twitter

Luckily, Lancaster’s legs caught on the controls – and a staff held onto his body (half inside the plane, half outside in the freezing winds) until they made an emergency landing. Lancaster suffered broken bones and frostbite but was fortunate to survive.

Dropping the Noaa-N Prime Satellite

When: 2003
Where: Sunnyvale, California
Who: Lockheed Martin Space Systems
Losses: $135 million

Satellites may look like big hunks of metal, but they’re complex machines that take a lot to make. So, when one gets damaged, it’s not a solution of just sticking it back together with Newell’s Krazy Glue.

Source: Reddit

In 2003, employees at Lockheed Martin Space Systems moved the Noaa-N Prime Satellite to a different position when it fell onto the floor, causing $135 million in damages. All because someone forgot to secure it with the required 24 bolts before lifting it.

Destroying an F-16 Jet

When: 2018
Where: Belgium
Who: Belgian Air Force
Losses: $15-$18 million

We’ve all made mistakes at work, but have you ever accidentally fired a cannon and destroyed a $15 million dollar fighter jet? If not, one Belgian maintenance worker might just have you beat. The incident happened in 2018 at the Florennes Air Force Base.

Source: Imgur

The employee somehow accidentally shot a Vulcan cannon at a fully-fueled General Dynamics’ F-16, causing it to explode. Fortunately, there were no casualties, but two technicians suffered head injuries due to this careless and costly slip-up.

Skyscraper That Melted Cars

When: 2013
Where: London
Who: Land Securities and Canary Wharf Group
Losses: $1,000 per car/Undetermined for the building

Skyscrapers are normal for big cities across the world, but how many of them have been known to melt cars and other businesses? In 2014, the “Walkie Talkie” in London melted a Jaguar parked across the street from the sun’s reflection.

Photo by Prisma Bildagentur/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Jaguar cost over $1,000 to repair, but the destruction from the building’s glare didn’t stop there. Neighboring businesses said windows cracked from the heat, making the $250-million-dollar building spend an undisclosed amount on fitting a giant sunshade.

Kurt Russell Ruins a Rare, Priceless 1870s Guitar

When: 2015
Where: On-set of “The Hateful Eight”
Who: Shiny Penny, FilmColony
Losses: $40,000

Back in 2015, director Quentin Tarantino hired Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh to star in “The Hateful Eight.” Leigh plays a vintage guitar in one specific scene when Russell’s character takes it from her and smashes it to pieces.

Source: Pinterest

Russell didn’t know that the guitar was a valuable museum piece. Production was supposed to swap it for an inexpensive dummy halfway through the scene, but they forgot. The museum was so upset they refuse to lend out any items.

In-Flight Emergency Slide

When: 2014
Where: Inside a plane
Who: United Airlines
Losses: $20,000

The passengers on a flight from Chicago to Orange County in 2014 had the emergency slide inflate inside the cabin. The United Airlines plane was going along as usual when passengers heard a hissing sound, only to see that the inflatable was starting to grow.

Source: Imgur

The pilot performed an emergency landing in Kansas. The plane itself had to be taken out of service while they replaced the slide, costing the airline something in the region of $20,000. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Rare Elias Martinez Artwork Forever Ruined

When: 2012
Where: Eastern Spain
Who: Cecilia Gimenez (restorer)
Losses: Priceless

Artwork is sometimes so rare that it’s hard to put a price on it. Back in 2012, the world was flabbergasted when an elderly Spanish woman took it upon herself to restore “Ecce Homo” by Elias Garcia Martinez. When staff checked on the painting, they were horrified to discover what had happened.

Source: Reddit

Although the “restoration” was an attempted act of service, the result is entirely bad. Martinez’s work was altered beyond all recognition, transforming Jesus from a religious figure into something resembling a monkey.

Oil Rig Explosion

When: 1988
Where: Aberdeen, Scotland
Who: Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Ltd.
Losses: $1.7 billion

Working on an oil platform can be a delicate (and expensive) business. When things go wrong, there’s a margin between a near miss and a fatal disaster. In 1988, a platform operated by Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Limited exploded when a PSV flange leaked.

Source: Youtube

Several explosions occurred within two hours, resulting in the entire collapse of the platform. The result was $1.7 billion worth of damage. Presently, the Piper Alpha remains one of the largest oil rig disasters in oil business history.

Release of Fire Foam

When: 2013
Where: Various
Who: Delta Air Lines
Losses: $100,000

Storing airplanes takes thought and resources, so naturally, companies want to protect their planes with a fire foam system. If there is a fire, it’s taken care of relatively quickly. If it accidentally releases when there’s no fire, it’s a costly disaster.

Source: Twitter

Delta Air Lines found that out the hard way in 2013 when their new hangar and aircrafts got foamed for no reason. Several military bases have also faced the same issue, racking up big bucks in unnecessary repair costs.

NASA Burns a Satellite

When: 1999
Where: Outer Space
Losses: $125 million

NASA was crushed when they invested $125 million on the Mars Climate Orbiter in the 1990s, only to watch it burn up. The worst part? It was because one team was using the Metric System, while the other was using the Imperial System.

Photo By Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory used one measurement system while Lockheed Martin’s division used another. Neither team realized until it was too late, spelling disaster for the project when it could have easily been avoided.

Collapse of the Lotus Riverside Apartment Complex

When: 2009
Where: Shanghai
Who: Shanghai Meidu Real Estate Development
Losses: $2,000 per square meter

In 2009, the Lotus Riverside Apartment Complex in China was being built when an entire block fell over on its side. It was eventually blamed on the parking garage underneath the building and nearby riverbank collapse.

Source: Reddit

As water leaked in, the foundations of the building became unstable, leading it to crumble. At the time, space in the structure was being sold for $2,000 per square meter. Not only did developers have to start over, but they also had to clean the damage.

Overturned Nourah of Riyad Yacht

When: 2020
Where: Greece
Who: Megatechnica
Losses: $30 million

Owning a luxury 70-meter yacht is a dream for most of us, while it’s more realistic for a Saudi prince. Earlier this year, the $65 million yacht was being taken out for maintenance in a Greek yard when the entire thing capsized in the ocean.

Source: Reddit

Workers were able to retrieve the luxury ship and began repairing it in March 2020. While it’s unclear just how much it will cost to bring the boat back up to standard, it’s likely to be somewhere around the $30 million mark.

Until the Landslide Brought It Down

When: 2010
Where: Taiwan
Who: Maintained by Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau
Losses: $20 million

Slope management in Taiwan has been a hot topic for quite some time, as landslides often happen and cause all kinds of disasters. In 2010, disaster struck again when Highway 3 was covered by a monumental landslide that completely demolished the highway.

Source: Pinterest

With 50 excavators and 100 trucks working on the mess, it took over a month to get the highway clear. The disaster ultimately cost the government more than $20 million when all was said and done.

Epic Cargo Spill

When: 2011
Where: Astrolabe Reef, New Zealand
Who: Daina Shipping (Costamare)
Losses: $108 million

While some mistakes are because of actual issues, often, disasters can be avoided. Consider the case of The Rena Monrovia container ship. The vessel was on a voyage when it struck New Zealand’s Astrolabe Reef and beached in 2011.

Source: Reddit

The cargo spilled into the ocean, while the ship basically totaled since it had traveled at full speed. It cost the company $240 million to clean up the mess – and it was all because nobody was looking where they were going.

BP Oil Spill

When: 2010
Where: Gulf of Mexico
Who: BP
Losses: $65 billion

There are fewer disasters more profuse than Deepwater Horizon. On April 20, 2010, the drilling rig exploded, resulting in the largest recorded oil spill. 94 workers were rescued from the rig – but the fire continued for days.

Photo by U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images

The tanker itself sank two days later, but that wasn’t it. The oil spill had a huge impact on the environment around the Gulf of Mexico. BP had to pay big money to try and amend the situation, bringing the total bill to upward of $65 billion.

Losing Millions in Bitcoins

When: 2013
Where: Wales
Who: James Howells
Losses: $85 million

The world of Bitcoin can be confusing to the untrained eye, but it ended up paying big for early investors. Welsh computer whizz James Howells collected 7,500 bitcoins, which would go on to be worth more than $85 million, but there was just one problem.

Photo By Getty Images/ George

James threw away the hard drive. He had broken his laptop into parts, which he sold on eBay. He thought that he had kept the hard drive in case it became more valuable. However, when he checked, he realized he accidentally threw it away.

Mysterious Bridge Collapse

When: 2020
Where: Genoa, Italy
Who: Ing. Nino Ferrari Impresa Costruzioni Generali Srl, ANAS
Losses: Undetermined

Italy has long had an infrastructural problem. The Caprigliola Bridge was built 111 years ago in Tuscany, Italy. The bridge collapsed on April 8, 2020. Thankfully, there were no deaths, but 17 people are being investigated.

Source: Twitter

Built by Attilio Muggia, the bridge was badly damaged near the end of World War II. Retreating German Wehrmacht troops set mines as they left, which took four years to repair. The causes of the 2020 collapse haven’t been identified.

Overpass Collapse

When: 2007
Where: Bay Area, San Francisco, California
Who: CalTrans
Losses: $5.2 million

A tanker truck, traveling early morning, was in an accident that caused the collapse of a freeway overpass. The tanker truck was carrying 8,600 gallons of gas and spilled hundreds of cubic feet of concrete onto the highway below as the overpass collapsed.

Source: Wikimedia

The driver lost control during a curve, hit a guardrail, the tanker flipped on its side, and caught on fire. The intense heat from the fire was what caused the overpass to collapse. Luckily, the driver of the tank survived.

LucasFilm Signs Over Star Wars Rights

When: 2013
Where: Undetermined
Who: LucasFilm
Losses: $3 billion

Whether this was purposeful or not is up for debate, but to the Average Joe, it certainly looks like George Lucas missed out. In 2013, the notorious filmmaker decided to hand the Star Wars franchise over to Disney for $4 billion.

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

George not only gave up the films, but he also gave up the rights to the merchandise. Star Wars merch has a revenue of $3 billion alone, so would it have been worth striking an entirely separate deal on that front? Perhaps.

Tokyo Stock Exchange Typo

When: 2005
Where: Tokyo
Who: Mizuho Securities
Losses: $200 million+

This is possibly one of the gravest typos in history. In 2005, someone hit the wrong key in the Tokyo Stock Exchange – and the extra comma ended up costing businesses hundreds of millions of dollars. The error was from a trader at Mizuho Securities.

Photo by Yamaguchi Haruyoshi/Sygma via Getty Images

He tried to sell one share for 610,000 yen, but his typing error sold 610,000 shares at one yen each. By the time he realized the mistake, it was too late. An investigation was launched soon after to see how it happened.

The Challenger Catastrophe

When: 1986
Where: Atlantic Ocean
Losses: $3.2 billion

Before Elon Musk was sending astronauts into space with his specially designed rocket, five NASA astronauts and two payload specialists were on their way to orbit in 1986. Despite the Challenger having already completed nine flights, something went tragically wrong this time.

Photo by Apic/Getty Images

The Challenger disintegrated in 76 seconds when seals failed due to the cold weather. In less than a minute, over $3.2 billion in damages were created (and seven lives lost) in a tragic disaster that saw a ban on takeoffs for the next three years.

Lake Peigneur Sinkhole

When: 1980
Where: Iberia Parish, Louisiana
Who: Texaco
Losses: $50 million

Lake Peigneur was a popular freshwater spot in Iberia Parish until 1980. Athletes used it to let off steam, while it was also the perfect place to bring the family. Then, Texaco started drilling for oil above the underwater salt mine, which may have caused the disaster.

Source: Pinterest

A huge sinkhole swallowed over 65 acres that surrounded the lake, going from a 10-foot deep body of water to 200-foot deep. Miraculously, 55 men miners escaped uninjured. Texaco paid over $50 million in damages to local businesses.

Refusing The Beatles

When: 1960’s
Where: London
Who: Decca Records
Losses: Billions

Before becoming global superstars, The Beatles was looking to sign with Decca Records. After seeing the band perform, they didn’t sign them, missing out on one of the most profitable bands the world has ever seen.

Photo by Unknown/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

The Beatles went on to make billions. These days, their back catalog alone is worth $1 billion, while Paul McCartney himself has a hefty net worth of $924 million. That’s one financially devastating misjudgment if you asked us!

The “Restored” Statue

When: 2020
Where: Palencia, Spain
Who: City of Palencia
Losses: $11 million

Art restoration is a nuanced, time-consuming process involving intensive knowledge of both chemistry and art history. Typically, museums and cities will pay millions to top-tier renovators to preserve their priceless works of art.

Source: Twitter

However, in Palencia, Spain, they clearly tried to cut costs by hiring an okay restoration servicer, resulting in this butchering of a centuries-old statue into what locals call more of a “Potato Head.” While the financial damage is staggering, the damage to history is far worse.

SpaceX Eruption

When: 2020
Where: Texas, USA
Who: SpaceX
Losses: Undetermined

Tesla’s Elon Musk has shifted his focus to SpaceX, his private company that is currently competing with the likes of NASA for space exploration. Musk’s current project centers around Mars exploration, though they recently had a large setback.

Source: YouTube

A SpaceX rocket exploded upon launch, though Musk still claims to consider the mission a success. He tweeted about the state of the tank pressure, how that affected touchdown velocity, and that the launch garnered plenty of data.

USS Gerald R Ford Ship

When: 2020
Where: Atlantic Ocean
Who: US Navy
Losses: Undetermined

The USS Gerald R Ford isn’t an ordinary US Navy ship. It’s a $12.8-billion-dollar wonder that should have the latest technology, considering how new it is. The ship was first commissioned in 2017 but has yet to get past beginning phases.

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

The ship has experienced countless problems over the last year, specifically with its nuclear system. Less than half of the vessel’s handling elevators are operational while more problems continue to arise. The Navy definitely hoped for better results.

The 1965 Northeast Blackout

When: 1965
Where: Northeast region
Who: Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Station No.2
Losses: $6 million

On November 9, 1965, over 30 million people across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont were abruptly left without power. After something went wrong with a protective relay on the lines, the entire system failed.

Source: Facebook

Interconnected lines fell, plunging vast expanses into darkness. Businesses weren’t able to operate, while traffic lights failed. The blackout cost over $6 million in damages as different power plants struggled to rectify it.

Facebook Rejecting Brian Acton & Jan Koum

When: 2009
Where: California
Who: Facebook
Losses: $19 billion

It might seem like Mark Zuckerberg is a man who’s done everything right in his life, having a net worth of $76 billion at age 36. However, he’s not perfect. WhatsApp developer Brian Acton applied for a job at Facebook back in 2009 – but was rejected.


He ended up developing WhatsApp, the popular messaging app. Facebook eventually bought WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion in 2014, making Acton and Koum very rich men. But Facebook could’ve had them in-house from the beginning with a little more foresight.

The Charles De Gaulle Airport Collapse

When: 2004
Where: Paris
Who: Charles De Gaulle
Losses: $900 million

As passengers, we expect many inconveniences at the airport. Baggage delays, limited in-flight menu options – what we don’t expect is a terminal to collapse on us. In 2004, a portion of terminal 2E did just that. The disaster had a number of casualties.


Investigators later found that there were several structural problems with the terminal, including the concrete ceiling. Designer Paul Andreu blamed the companies that had built it for not ensuring the safety of the reinforced concrete. Damages ended up costing $900 million.

A Not-So-Controlled Burn

When: 2011
Where: Little Manatee River State Park, Florida
Who: Department of Environmental Protection
Losses: Undetermined

Controlled burns can clear large areas, but fire can spread. In 2011, the Department of Environmental Protection attempted to burn 25 acres of woodland in Little Manatee River State Park in Florida. Instead, the fire ravaged 125 acres when it got out of control.

Source: YouTube

It is unclear just how much this accident cost those responsible, but it most certainly wasn’t cheap. Fires can get quickly out of hand, destroying buildings and everything in its path to the tune of millions.

B-2 Stealth Bomber Disaster

When: 2008
Where: Andersen Air Base, Guam
Who: United States Air Force
Losses: $1.4 billion

Back in 2008, a B-2 Stealth Bomber went nose first into the runway right after taking off at the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Investigators blamed the accident on heavy rain that had impaired the air-data sensors.

Source: Facebook

Miraculously, the two crew members managed to eject to safety before the plane hit the tarmac. The aircraft was completely wrecked, racking up over $1.4 billion in damages and thus making it the most expensive airplane crash ever recorded.

Howie Hubler’s Big-Time Losses

When: 2007
Where: New York
Who: Morgan Stanley
Losses: $9 billion

Howie Hubler was an unknown – but that all changed when he lost $9 billion for Morgan Stanley in 2007. At one point in 2006, Hubler was the golden child at Morgan Stanley, overseeing a team that made over 20% of the company’s profits.


Then everything started to turn, and the housing market crashed the following year. Hubler thought he had a good system, selling mortgage-backed CDOs and credit default swaps against them, but he was incorrect. His decisions alone ended up losing Morgan Stanley $9 billion.

Vasa Vessel Sinks

When: 1628
Where: Sweden
Who: Owned by King Gustavus Adolphus
Losses: Undetermined

When the 69-meter-long ship Vasa was launched in 1628, no one predicted it would sink soon after. The ship had 145 sailors and 300 soldiers, as well as bronze cannons for weaponry. The structure wasn’t stable and carried way too much weight.


As soon as it hit strong winds, it tipped and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. The ship was recovered in 1961 and serves as one of the country’s most popular museums today.

The United States Buys Alaska From Russia

When: 1867
Where: Alaska
Who: Russian Government
Losses: Undetermined

It’s impossible to say precisely how much money Russia could’ve made if the country hadn’t sold Alaska to America back in 1867 – but it’s safe to say it would’ve been a lot. The deal was made for $7.2 million, but if Russia had kept hold of it, who knows what its value would’ve been.

This $7,200,000 check from the United States to USSR is for purchasing Alaska on March 30th, 1867. Photo By Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Alaska’s oil and gas industry alone has produced 17 billion barrels of oil, while the state as a whole has a GDP of $49 billion. That’s money Russia would’ve gladly used.

Not Purchasing Google for One Million Dollars

When: 1998
Where: California
Who: Yahoo
Losses: $990 billion

Google is one of the most profitable enterprises in the world, valued at close to a trillion dollars. It’s nearly impossible to imagine that Sergei Brin and Larry Page nearly sold the entire business to Yahoo in 1998 for a measly $1 million. Luckily for them, Yahoo declined.

Source: Facebook

Yahoo is now worth $10 billion. It’s obvious who the winner is here. It just goes to show that one man’s error is another man’s gain. Sergei Brin has $49 billion, while Larry Page is now worth $51 billion.

Throwing A Winning Lottery Ticket in the Garbage

When: 2018
Where: Aberdeenshire, UK
Who: Fred and Lesley Higgins
Losses: $75 million

In 2018, Fred and Lesley Higgins bought a Euromillions ticket, only to be told they hadn’t won when they came to check the numbers. The ticket was ripped up and thrown away, but someone released the mistake at the last second.

Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In fact, they had won almost £58 million, aka $75 million. This was a close call but had the mistake gone unnoticed, the couple would’ve kissed goodbye to a life-changing amount of money that could’ve set their family up for life.

The Ford Edsel

When: 1955
Where: Michigan
Who: Ford
Losses: $350 million

Ford has become a leading force in the automotive industry, but that doesn’t mean the company is immune to loss. In the 1950s, designers and engineers labored to create the Edsel, a brand that they thought was destined for greatness.

Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

However, only four years after production had started, the line was stopped. Despite putting hundreds of millions into it, Ford suffered a loss of over $350 million. The line went away with minimal fanfare in 1960, leaving the company upset and poorer for it.

The Sinking of the Prestige

When: 2002
Where: Spain
Who: American Bureau of Shipping/London P&I Club
Losses: $2.8 billion

The environmental impact of oil spills is more than dangerous. The Prestige was carrying over 77,000 tons of heavy fuel oil when disaster happened in 2002. A storm caused a tank to burst, and with no permission to dock, the vessel sank to the bottom of the ocean.

Source: Facebook

Over 17.8 million gallons of fuel poured into the water, virtually annihilating the local fishing industry. The clean-up cost over $2.8 billion, making it one of the costliest disasters of its kind.

The Hindenburg Tragedy

When: 1937
Where: New Jersey
Who: Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei
Losses: $3 million

By 1937, the Hindenburg had already spent a year carrying passengers. When it collaborated with American Airlines to connect travelers from Lakehurst to Newark, it seemed like a safe bet. Unfortunately, everyone was wrong.

Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

While docking in New Jersey on May 6, 1937, changing winds and other factors caused the airship to catch fire. Before long, it was consumed by flames and crashed down to the ground. 13 passengers and 22 crewmen died, while the $3 million airship was completely destroyed.

Crash of The Columbia

When: 2003
Where: Texas
Losses: $6 billion

When space shuttles go round mid-flight, there is a very small chance that anyone on board will survive. Seven crew members learned that the hard way when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up after reentering Earth’s atmosphere in February 2003.

Photo by: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The shuttle was minutes from landing when a piece of foam broke off from the tank and hit the left wing, causing serious damage. This caused the entire shuttle to break up and $6 billion in damages. In response, NASA grounded all launches for over two years.

Scott Thompson Sells Yahoo Shares

When: 2012
Where: California
Who: Yahoo
Losses: $54 billion

When Yahoo hired Scott Thompson to be the CEO in 2012, they didn’t anticipate that he would end up costing more than his salary. Scott ended up making one of the most expensive mistakes. At that time, Yahoo had a stake in Alibaba.


Thompson concluded that they didn’t need 20% of that stake and sold it, even though the company was valued at $30 billion. After the sale, the value of Alibaba skyrocketed to over $300 billion, losing Yahoo $54 billion. Obviously, Scott has since moved on.

Quaker Purchases Snapple

When: 1994
Where: Chicago
Who: Quaker
Losses: $1.4 billion

When Quaker made a deal to purchase Snapple in 1994, it was a big deal. Both brands were popular at the time, and the amount of money changing hands was unbelievable. Quaker paid $1.7 billion in cash to make the deal. They didn’t realize they’d end up regretting it.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Three years later, the company sold Snapple to Triarc Companies for a measly $300 million. Basically, Quaker wasted over $1.4 billion on buying Snapple when they should have just let it go to bigger bidders like Coca-Cola.

The Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapse

When: 1981
Where: Kansas City
Who: Hyatt
Losses: Millions

In 1981, Hyatt Regency guests in Kansas City had no clue they were about to witness a horrific tragedy. Two walks imploded due to poor upkeep and neglect, making history as America’s most catastrophic accident of this kind.

Source: Facebook

The disaster was shocking and unlike anything seen before. It was incredibly expensive for the hotel chain. It’s unknown how much Hyatt had to payout, but it would’ve been a huge amount in building costs as well as piles of legal costs to the victims.

Nuclear Reactor Meltdown

When: 1979
Where: Pennsylvania
Who: Exelon Nuclear
Losses: $4 billion

The partial reactor meltdown that happened at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in 1979 is the biggest accident of its kind on American soil. A bunch of failures caused a coolant leakage from the reactor, resulting in $4 billion in damages.


The reactor was too badly damaged and was forced to close. Clean-up took 24 years to finish. Not only was it very costly because of the damage it caused, but it lost Exelon Nuclear money in future profits once it had to be decommissioned.

Sony Acquires Columbia Pictures

When: 1989
Where: Japan
Who: Sony
Losses: $2.7 billion

When Sony purchased Columbia Pictures in 1989, the studio paid $3.4 billion on what seemed like a winning horse. However, Columbia wasn’t as successful for the initial five years following the deal, lacking breakaway hits to warrant what Sony paid for it.

Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

In total, Sony lost billions of dollars in the first few years, but they’ve held on tight to the company ever since. The movie industry isn’t an exact science, so chances are this mistake eventually righted itself.

The Accidental Leaning Tower of Pisa

When: 1372
Where: Italy
Who: Catholic Church
Losses: $4 million

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the largest tourist attractions, but when it was completed in 1372, it wasn’t meant to lean at all. Due to the soft ground during the building process, the tower had a tilt of more than 5 degrees.

Photo by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Work was done to try and rectify it in the early ’90s, which gradually changed the tilt to a little less than 4 degrees. The UNESCO World Heritage Site might have been a $4 million mistake, but at least it draws tourists.

The Two Time Collapse of The Quebec Bridge

When: 1907/1916
Where: Canada
Who: Theodore Cooper/Frants Lichtenberg
Losses: $1.5 million

The Quebec Bridge collapsed in 1907, killing 75 workers and injuring 11. The Quebec Bridge’s cantilever arm, south anchor arm, and half-completed section fell into the St. Lawrence River, sending the workers with it.


Theodore Cooper was the engineer in 1907and the failure of Chord A9R, which caused the collapse, was his responsibility. In 1916, Frants Lichtenberg was made aware of a problem with the central span countless times but ignored it. On September 11th of that year, it imploded and killed 13 workers.

The Apollo 13 Explosion

When: 1970
Where: 210,000 miles above Earth
Who: Rockwell International, Grummen
Losses: $283 billion

When the astronauts on Apollo 13 were on their NASA space mission, they heard a loud bang. The astronauts on board thought at first that someone was playing a prank, but it quickly became clear that something was very wrong.

Source: Pinterest

The second oxygen tank had exploded, and the first one was losing pressure fast. The oxygen was gone after three hours. Thankfully, the astronauts didn’t die—Apollo 13 crashed into the Pacific Ocean 87 hours after the first tank explosion.

Flooding of Kansai International Airport

When: 2018
Where: Japan
Who: Kansai Airports
Losses: $20 million

Kansai International Airport had 25.2 million passengers in 2016, making it the 30th busiest airport in all of Asia. The Japanese airport was nominated for awards as recently as 2020. But Kansai isn’t perfect—it sank in 2018.

Source: Twitter

Typhoon Jebi hit the airport in 2018 and flooded runways. The water was so high that it reached the aircraft’s engines in the loading bay. Operations resumed a month later, but it wasn’t until April 2019 that the airport was fully fixed.

The Leaking Aquarium

When: 2010
Where: Dubai
Who: Emaar Entertainment
Losses: Undetermined

The nightmare scenario of a cracking aquarium is exactly what happened in Dubai in 2010. An aquarium and shopping center were both emergency-evacuated when water began leaking from a massive aquarium, home to hundreds of deadly sharks.

Source: Reddit

A weakness in the panel joints caused the leakage. The aquarium’s maintenance staff immediately sprang into action, saving millions in potential damages and the lives of 33,000 sea creatures, all of which were fine.

Mercedes-Benz Obtains Chrysler

When: 1998
Where: Germany (Daimler HQ)
Who: Daimler-Benz & Chrysler
Losses: $30.4 billion

Mercedes-Benz (owned by Daimler) purchased Chrysler in 1998. This deal lasted nine years and lost Daimler-Benz $37 billion. It sold the brand to Cerberus, a private equity firm, for $7.4 billion, losing $30.4 billion.

Photo by Sergei Mikhailichenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Cerberus was optimistic about the purchase, despite the challenges. The main reason Chrysler lost so much money was that Mercedes understood it didn’t want to share the luxury market with its new little brother. Daimler hustled Chrysler as a result.

The Purity Distilling Company Flood

When: 1919
Where: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Who: Purity Distilling Company
Losses: $100 million

A molasses storage tank belonging to the Purity Distilling Company oozed 2.3 million gallons of molasses into the streets of Boston. The tanks burst, unleashing a rush of molasses traveling 35 mph.


The molasses killed 21 people and injured 150. For years afterward, the area smelled of molasses. Residents also remembered hearing a bang when the rivets shot out of the storage tank during the burst. It took months of scrubbing with saltwater and several hundred clean-up and rescue workers to repair the damage.

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse

When: 1940
Where: Tacoma, Washington, USA
Who: Leon Moisseiff (lead engineer)
Losses: $636,000

Four months after opening, the bridge’s main span collapsed. The collapse was a result of strong winds that led to aeroelastic flutter. It has been studied and has had lasting effects on the fields of engineering, physics, and science.

Source: Twitter

One major error in the design was the solid sides that didn’t let wind pass through to the deck. No human was killed in the collapse, but there was an even more devastating death: the loss of Tubby, a Cocker Spaniel.

The Savar Building Failure

When: 2013
Where: Bangladesh
Who: Sohel Rana
Losses: Undetermined

The Savar Building Collapse had 1,134 deaths and 2,500 injuries. Rescue efforts took a month to complete. The factory was built in 2006 by Sohel Rana, who falsified deeds and intimidated co-owners in the process.

Source: Twitter

In April 2013, there was an explosion in the factory. An engineer was called in to investigate and demanded immediate evacuation. Rana refused to allow the workers to exit, and the factory collapsed the following day. Rana was charged with murder and is still awaiting trial.

Handling Baggage All Wrong

When: 2005
Where: Denver, Colorado, USA
Who: United Airlines, Inc.
Losses: $410 million

The Denver International Airport Baggage Handling System was a computerized system to replace airport baggage workers. It failed pitifully when it was introduced, causing delays and damage to customers’ bags for months. The system was finished the same year it was introduced.

Source: Pinterest

Software failures resulted in the baggage claim eating peoples’ luggage. The network designers underestimated the complexity of the project. They didn’t think to add recovery capacity and backup, so the system wasn’t able to cope with and reboot after failures.

The Skylab Outpost

When: 1979
Where: Esperance, Australia
Losses: $2.2 billion

Skylab, launched in May 1973, was supposed to be an outpost that would propel America into the future but came crashing down six years later. Skylab was always designed to be temporary, with NASA engineers planning on it lasting nine years.

Photo By Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG Via Getty Images

Skylab started failing in 1978 when the orbit of the station was rapidly decaying. Months later, NASA engineers shot booster rockets to hit Skylab and bring it down into the Indian Ocean. Instead, the shattered station landed in a remote Australian town.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster

When: 2011
Where: Okuma, Fukushima, Japan
Who: Tokyo Electric Power Company
Losses: $187 billion

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake resulted in a 46-foot tsunami that flooded the nuclear power plant’s nuclear reactors, emergency generators, and circulating pumps. A loss of cooling in the reactor core led to three nuclear meltdowns and three hydrogen explosions.

Source: Twitter

Radiative contamination went on for three straight days, with one person dying from cancer. The hydrogen explosions injured 16 people, and two workers went to the hospital for radiation burns. As of now, the power plant is permanently shut down.

Olympic Stadium in Athens

When: 2004
Where: Athens, Greece
Who: The Greek Government
Losses: $1.7 billion

Greece’s Olympic Stadium in Athens was a huge sports complex to host the Olympic Games in 2004. Greece spent billions that it couldn’t afford and ended up taking a $1.7 billion loss that international organizations refused to help them with.

Source: YouTube

The stadium is now abandoned, with pretty much everything overgrown, cracked, and crumbling. It’s unclear whether the venue in Athens will ever make a revival, as very few companies in the struggling country—as well as the Greek government itself—could afford such an expensive clean-up.

Terra Purchases Lycos

When: 2000
Where: N/A
Who: Terra Networks, Lycos, Inc.
Losses: $12.41 billion

Terra Networks, a Spanish internet company, purchased Lycos, a web search engine. Terra bought Lycos for $12.5 billion, and then Lycos abandoned its search engine in 2001. Lycos was once the eighth-most popular website in the world before the bubble crash.

Source: Pinterest

Terra sold it in 2004 after three years of loss. Daum Communications bought it for $95.4 million, which was less than two percent of the original investment. Lycos is still around today but got rebranded as “Brightcom Group” in May 2018.

Sumitomo Copper Affair

When: 1996
Where: Osaka, Japan
Who: Sumitomo Corporation
Losses: $1.8 billion

The metal trading scandal took place from 1986 until 1996, with the discovery of the scandal. Yasuo Hamanaka, the chief copper trader of Sumitomo Corp., the Japanese trading house, consulted without authorization on copper contracts for ten years.

Photo by Yamaguchi Haruyoshi/Sygma via Getty Images

It began as a way to make back losses quickly, but it developed into a ginormous fraudulent campaign involving false commercial justification and fake accounting of physical copper stores where there weren’t any. Hamanaka spent eight years in jail for corruption.

The Francis Dam Collapse

When: 1928
Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
Who: Los Angeles Department of Water & Power
Losses: $7 million

Categorized as American history’s “worst civil engineering failure,” the dam failure killed over 400 people and flooded miles of fertile farmland. William Mulholland, the chief engineer at the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, ruined his career because of the collapse.


There were no contraction joints in the dam, and cracks began to form. Mulholland inspected the cracks and concluded that they were a nonissue. March 1928 proved him wrong when12.4 billion gallons of water swept through the area.

Devasting Dam Disaster

When: 1975
Where: Zhumadian, Henan, China
Who: Chinese Government, The Soviet Union
Losses: $54.12 million

The collapse of China’s Banqiao Dam in 1975 affected 10.15 million people, 30 cities, and three million acres of land. The Banqiao Dam collapse caused 62 other dams to collapse, which were built by the Chinese and the Soviet Union governments.

Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The poor design caused the collapse. The governments responsible only focused on the dam’s goal of retaining water, overlooking the other crucial purpose of building a dam: preventing a flood. Between 85,600 to 240,000 people died as a result.

Worst Oil Spill in History

When: 1989
Where: Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA
Who: Exxon Shipping Company
Losses: $3.8 billion

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker, owned by the Exxon Shipping Company, was heading to Long Beach, California, when it crashed into Alaska’s Bligh Reef. The resulting spill dumped 10.8 million gallons of oil into the ocean.

Photo by jean-Louis Atlan/Sygma via Getty Images

Exxon Shipping attempted to evade responsibility, but an investigation found that the Company was responsible for not maintaining the crash-prevention radar (RAYCAS) and overloading the crew, causing fatigue from the infinite workload. The fatigue led a mate to steer the boat improperly.

AOL Acquires Time Warner

When: 2000
Where: New York City, New York
Who: AOL, Time Warner
Losses: $98.7 billion

AOL announced that it was going to buy Time Warner. The purchase price was $182 billion in debt and stock, which made this purchase the largest merger in corporate history. In 2000, Time Warner was the largest global media/entertainment company.

Time Warner Chairman and CEO Gerald Levin left, and America Online Chairman and CEO Steve Case give a high five. Photo by Chris Hondros/Newsmakers

The merger failed because of inaccurate expectations, aka corporate culture clashes. AOL thought it could get Time Warner’s cable customers. Time Warner thought it would acquire millions of subscribers. In real life, neither of these happened.

Aon Center’s Dangerous Marble Slabs

When: 1974
Where: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Who: Standard Oil of Indiana, Turner Construction, Edward Durell Stone
Losses: $80 million

In 1974, the Aon Center was constructed and encased with slabs of Italian Carrara marble. The marble was thinner than usual, and during building, a 350-pound slab fell off and smashed into the roof of the Prudential Center.

Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

That wasn’t enough for the company to stop building. Inspectors found dangerous cracks 12 years later. Stainless steel straps weren’t enough to repair it, so the whole building had to be redone in granite for $80 million. It took two years to fix.

MIT’s Stata Center

When: 2007
Where: MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Who: Skanska USA, NER Construction Management, Frank Ghery
Losses: Undetermined

The Ray and Maria State Center is supposedly done in German Expressionism Style, but, in reality, it just looks bad. In 2007, MIT sued the construction, development, and architect companies, citing problems with the design.

Photo By Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The State Center was badly designed, which led to mold growth, leaks, cracked masonry, backed-up drainage, and emergency exit blockage by falling ice and debris. Gehry was the most liable for the damage, as he ignored warnings from consulting firms about design issues.

The Great Flood of 1889

When: 1889
Where: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA
Who: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Losses: $484 million

The Johnstown Flood was caused by the South Fork Dam’s catastrophic failure to handle unusually heavy rainfall, and the investigation was covered up. The wealthy, powerful members of the South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club altered the dam that affected its ability to withstand storms.

Source: Facebook

The initial investigation concluded that, despite the dam’s failure and the deaths of 2,209 people, there wasn’t anything wrong with South Fork, and it shouldn’t have collapsed. The actual cause wouldn’t be discovered until 2016, nearly a century later.

NASA Mistakenly Taped Over the Moon Landing

When: Early 1980s
Where: Kennedy Space Center (Florida, USA)
Losses: Priceless

NASA finally admitted in 2009 that they recorded over the original moon landing tapes, which is disastrous yet also absurdly funny. The Apollo 11 moon landing tapes were taped from the SSTV onboard the ship.

Source: Youtube

The raw footage disappeared in the early ’80s. Investigators found that the Apollo 11 SSTV tapes were erased and recycled, which used to be NASA’s standard procedure. Now, all that is left is NTSC video and Super 8 film recording of the original SSTV transmission.

Publishing Houses That Rejected Harry Potter

When: 1990s
Where: England
Who: Undetermined
Losses: $25 billion

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, pitched her books to 13 different publishers, getting rejected by 12. Bloomsbury decided to give the new author a chance, and now the franchise is worth $25 billion.

Source: Facebook

Bloomsbury did have a specific request for Rowling, to which she agreed. She had to use the “J.K.” instead of her first name, Joanne, because her publishers were nervous that young boys wouldn’t want to read a book series written by a female author.

Sony Declined Purchasing Marvel

When: 1990s
Where: Tokyo, Japan (Sony HQ)
Who: Sony Entertainment
Losses: $18.2 billion

The Marvel franchise is worth over $18 billion and was worth $4.24 billion when Disney bought it in 2009. However, there was a possible buyer before Disney. Sony turned Marvel down twice. The franchise could have bought all of the Marvel rights for $25 million.

Source: Reddit

Instead, the company only bought the rights to Spider-Man for $10 million, along with five percent of Marvel movies’ revenue and fifty percent of consumer products revenue. Sony’s Marvel connection is worth far less than it could have been.

Blockbuster Rejects Netflix

When: Late 1990s
Where: Dallas, Texas, USA (Blockbuster HQ)
Who: Blockbuster LLC
Losses: $125 billion

In the late ’90s, Blockbuster LLC. was offered the chance to buy Netflix for $50 million. Blockbuster’s CEO turned down the offer, and now, Blockbuster is done except for one branch in Bend, Oregon. Netflix is worth over $125 billion.

Photo Illustration by Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Netflix used to be a mail-in rental service and added a streaming platform. Blockbuster officially went bankrupt in 2010. There are rumors that Netflix killed Blockbuster, but Blockbuster lost money every year from 1996 until its closure, and Netflix was only founded in 1997.

The Balloon Release of ’86

When: 1986
Where: Cleveland
Who: Balloon Art by Treb
Losses: $3.2 million

In 1985, Treb Heining and his friends thought it would be a good idea to release over 1.5 million balloons into the air above Cleveland. They’d set a world record, and they’d raise a lot of money for charity in the process. If only it were that easy.

Source: YouTube

Sadly, while the launch took off without an issue, organizers hadn’t taken into consideration where the balloons would land. Due to a change in the weather forecast, the gigantic number of balloons descended onto local lakes.

Changing the Coke Formula

When: 1985-2002
Where: Atlanta, Georgia (Coca-Cola HQ)
Who: The Coca-Cola Company
Losses: $34 million

New Coke serves as a cautionary tale about what happens when you attempt to change with a well-known brand in the name of competition. Coca-Cola became concerned that Pepsi, which has a subtly sweeter taste, was taking over the soda market.

Photo by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Coca-Cola created New Coke as a way to counter the threat. The new formula was widely hated, particularly by Southerners. Despite focus groups revealing animosity towards changing a Southern tradition, Coke went through with New Coke anyway.

Xerox Didn’t Advertise Their First Computer

When: 1972
Where: Menlo Park, California
Who: Xerox
Losses: $2 trillion

The Xerox Alto was the first computer ever made to support an OS and was developed in the early ’70s. Apple and Macintosh were based on the Alto. Only 2,000 were ever produced and were never marketed.


The company didn’t realize the value of what it had. Otherwise, they might not have invited Steve Jobs and other computer developers to copy the design of the Alto. It wasn’t until Macintosh was released in the early ’80s that Xerox recognized the opportunity it had squandered.

The Atari Shock of 1983

When: 1983-1985
Where: US, Japan
Who: Atari, competitor video game companies
Losses: $3.1 billion

The video game crash took place from 1983 until 1985 and lost billions. The video game industry’s revenues peaked in 1983, earning $3.2 billion. Two years later, they plummeted 97% to $100. A flooded console market, loss of publishing control, the mutiny in Atari, and the development of PCs all contributed to the industry crash.

Source: Pinterest

Games were overproduced, causing market inflation. One game, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, had over 782,000 cartridges buried in a landfill in New Mexico to get rid of the surplus.

Western Union Refuses Alexander Graham Bell

When: 1876
Where: Rochester, NY (then the HQ)
Who: Western Union
Losses: $551.7 billion

Alexander Graham Bell developed the telephone. He patented the technology in 1876, and he went to Western Union with his invention. Western Union turned him away, as the company thought that telegrams would be the future—not telephones.

Photo by CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Rejected but not one to quit, Alexander Graham Bell, a former teacher for the hearing-impaired, founded his own company, Bell Telephone, which would go on to dominate American telecommunications for years.

Sampoong Department Store Collapses

When: 1995
Where: Seoul, South Korea
Who: The Sampoong Group
Losses: $364 million

In 1987, the Sampoong Group built the Sampoong Department Store on a landfill. Lee Joon, the head of the construction division, altered the designs to replace support columns with escalators. Woosung Construction, the original construction company, refused the changes. Joon fired them and continued building.


In 1995, Joon and his company ignored cracks that appeared. For five hours before the collapse, loud bangs were heard from the top floor, and Joon also ignored these warning signs. That evening, the building collapsed, killing 502 and injuring 1,445.

The Exploding Galaxy Note 7

When: 2016-2017
Where: Worldwide
Who: Samsung SDI, Contemporary Amperex Technology
Losses: $17 billion

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 cost Samsung $17 billion in revenue. When released in 2016, battery issues caused the phone to combust, explode, and overheat. Samsung vowed to fix the issue, hiring another company to make a new battery.

Source: Youtube

The new battery had problems as well, and the Note 7 phones kept exploding. The two recalls happened within a month of each other as the replacements kept exploding. In 2017, Samsung suggested never charging the phones past 15%. By March of 2017, the phone was discontinued.

The Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Tunnel Project

When: 1982-2004
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
Who: Parsons Brinckerhoff, Bechtel
Losses: $22 billion

The project was supposed to reroute I-93 into a new tunnel and make changes to the roadway. The Big Dig, which was originally supposed to cost $7.4 billion, was the costliest highway project in America.

Source: Pinterest

The tunnel was supposed to be finished by the late ’90s, but delays, design flaws, leaks, poor execution, substandard materials, and cost overruns ruined the project. It was semi-completed in 2004, ended up costing $22 billion, and won’t be paid off until 2038.

The Westside Shopping Centre Continued Collapses

When: 2008, 2011
Where: Bern, Switzerland
Who: Studio Libeskind
Losses: Undetermined

The Westside Shopping and Leisure Centre building is designed at various angles covering 1.5 million square feet. The project’s roof has fallen twice since it was built in 2008, once that same year and then again in 2011. The first collapse was over a fast-food restaurant.


The second collapse injured three and almost killed a small child standing nearby. The second collapse happened over the indoor swimming pool, with pieces of the roof and insulation falling onto the swimmers below.

Enzo Ferrari Inspired His Own Rival

When: 1963
Where: Sant’Agata, Bolognese, Italy
Who: Ferrari, Lamborghini
Losses: $11 billion

Ferruccio Lamborghini was a tractor-builder before he designed his legendary supercar. Before creating his own car, Lamborghini owned two Ferraris but found that he struggled with their clutches. After investigating, Lamborghini realized that the clutch on the Ferrari was the same as on a Lamborghini tractor.

Source: Pinterest

Lamborghini confronted Ferrari about the clutch; Ferrari insulted him and then challenged Lamborghini to build his own car, since he was so smart. Lamborghini did just that, and now, Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. is worth $11 billion and is Ferrari’s biggest rival.

Problematic Opera House

When: 2009-2011
Where: Guangzhou, China
Who: Zaha Hadid
Losses: Undetermined

Designed by architect Zaha Hadid, the Guangzhou Opera House took five years to complete. Hadid was inspired by rocks washing up on the Pearl River riverbank. The Opera House had a lot of issues when it first started.

Photo by View Pictures/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When it opened, there was gossip of sub-standard construction, which caused cracks in granite slabs. Guangzhou has a humid climate, which was one of the reasons cracks formed. Glass panels from the Opera House windows also fell and, in 2009, the building caught on fire.

Yahoo Botches Its Acquisitions

When: 2005
Where: Sunnyvale, California (HQ)
Who: Yahoo
Losses: $45-$60 million

Yahoo bought Flickr in 2005 for $35 million. There was immediate culture clash, with Yahoo making deep cuts to the Flickr engineering team. Both of the founders of Flickr left disgusted. Yahoo also purchased Delicious that same year.

Photo Illustration by Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The founder of Delicious, Josh Schachter, had a positive attitude about working with Yahoo until they forced him out too in 2007. He said Yahoo fired his employees and deprived him of responsibilities. Now, Yahoo has a notorious reputation as a company you don’t want to be acquired by.

One of Deadliest Plane Crashes in French History

When: 2000
Where: Gonesse, France
Who: Aerospatiale-BAC Concorde
Losses: $125 million

Air France Flight 4590 crashed on the runway, killing 113 people (109 on the plane plus 4 on the ground) and injuring six. The plane crashed after running over garbage on the runway. The debris caused a tire to burst and trash to fly into the left wing.

Source: Pinterest

The fuel tank in the left wing was too full and resulted in its immediate rupture and explosion. Continental Airlines was responsible for the debris on the runway. Concorde and Continental had to pay millions in compensation to victims’ families.

Devastating Five-Train Crash

When: 1915
Where: Quintinshill, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Who: Caledonian Railway
Losses: Undetermined

The Gretna Rail Disaster killed 226 people and injured 246, making it the deadliest rail catastrophe in UK history. The first collision happened when a troop carrier consisting of multiple trains traveling to Liverpool hit a stationary train.

Source: Pinterest

A minute later, a sleeping car smacked into the wreckage. The gas ignited and started a gigantic fire, killing half of the soldiers on board. Two signalmen were found to have been at fault. They were in jail for a year and then, surprisingly, rehired by a railway company.

Dyson’s Bagless Vacuum

When: 1990s
Where: Charlotte, North Carolina, USA (HQ)
Who: Hoover Vacuum Cleaners
Losses: $5.7 billion

James Dyson’s original idea was a bagless vacuum that wouldn’t lose suction. He created the idea after becoming upset with the performance of his Hoover vacuum. After bringing his idea to life, Dyson went to present his invention to Hoover.

Source: Pinterest

Hoover turned it down. Dyson founded his own company, and his idea was successful. Hoover would later steal Dyson’s idea with its Triple Vortex Vacuum. It went to court, and Dyson was awarded $5.19 million ($7.51 million with inflation).

The Sultana Explosion

When: 1863
Where: Somewhere in the Mississippi River
Who: John Litherbury Boatyard
Losses: $5 million

The Sultana Disaster is lesser known because the Civil War was ending right around the same time and overshadowed the tragedy. The Sultana exploded in 1863, killing 1,100 – 1,547 people. The Sultana routinely carried more than her 400-person capacity.


Two boilers exploded due to water level neglect, which caused the ship to sink. The boilers’ metal was also brittle. The gross water from the Mississippi River fed the boilers, causing dirt to accumulate and form clogs. All of these factors led to the explosion.

Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable

When: 1858
Where: Valentia, Ontario, Canada
Who: The Atlantic Telegraph Company
Losses: Over $1 million

Telegraphic communication was new technology in the 1850s, and the Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable made communication possible across the ocean. The first cable was laid down but only functioned for three weeks.

Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Wildman Whitehouse tried to boost transmission speed to the cable, but he ended up overpowering the voltage (2,000 volts). The first cable failure was disastrous, and public confidence was so low that there almost was no second cable. Some journalists even hinted that the first cable was a hoax.

The Ford PR & Pinto Disaster

When: 1971-1980
Where: Edison, New Jersey/Milpitas, California
Who: Ford Motor Company
Losses: $121 million

The Ford Motor Company manufactured the Ford Pinto from 1971-1980, and it was known for exploding. The Pinto drew scrutiny when a series of crashes and fires were all caused by the Pinto tanks rupturing after rear-ending collisions.


In a shocking 1968 leaked “Pinto Memo,” Ford execs debated the cost of saving lives vs. economic damage. Fixing the damage cost $137 million, while Ford found that the “benefit to society” was worth $49.5 million. Ford didn’t make the changes, and 27-180 deaths occurred.

Largest Tire Recall in History

When: 1978
Where: Nationwide
Who: Firestone
Losses: $150 million

In November 1978, Firestone announced that it would recall 14.5 million steel-belted tires. Firestone began producing radial tires in the early ’70s in order to compete with Goodyear and Michelin. It sold the tires before it had perfected them on paper.


Firestone was using their customers to test out their tire design. After a state trooper was killed from tire failure, Firestone came under government scrutiny and had to recall the 500 brand. The 500s caused 40 known deaths and thousands of accidents.

City of New Orleans vs. Its Own Levees

When: 2005
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
Who: Army Corps of Engineers
Losses: $169 billion

Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, causing 1,833 deaths and $169 billion in damages. One of the costliest hurricanes on record, New Orleans is still recovery 15 years later. The hurricane had wind speeds as high as 174 mph and rained 2.3 trillion gallons of water.

Source: Pinterest

The levees in New Orleans weren’t strong enough for the storm. The Army Corps of Engineers tried to blame Katrina’s size, but it was the levees’ construction. The sheet piling wasn’t deep enough, causing poor reinforcement for the floodwalls and levees.

Explosive Decompression Flight

When: 1988
Where: Hawaii
Who: Aloha Airlines
Losses: $5.2 million

Flight 243 was a Hawaiian flight, with a Boeing 737-297 flying between Hilo and Honolulu. During the flight, there was an explosive decompression, a result of maintenance errors and metal fatigue. Only one person, a flight attendant named Clarabelle Lansing, didn’t survive.

Source: Pinterest

Lansing was ejected from the plane as a result of the decompression. Of the 95 passengers and crew, 65 suffered injuries. Though the aircraft was damaged, Captain Bob Schornstheimer and First Officer Mimi Tompkins were able to land the plane safely.

Catastrophic Pesticide Disaster

When: 1984
Where: Bhopal, Madya Pradesh, India
Who: Union Carbide India Limited
Losses: $860 million

The Bhopal Disaster was a pesticide leak where the plant’s tanks and safety equipment failed, so the gas leaked directly over 500,000 people. Thousands of people were dead the following morning from diseases caused by the exposure like choking and pulmonary edema.

Source: Pinterest

The Bhopal Disaster has 3,787 known deaths, though that’s an estimation. Some reports say that, with all the damage and exposure, the actual death toll is closer to 16,000. At least 558,125 people suffered injuries, and damages were about $1 billion.

Apollo 1 Burns Before Launch

When: 1967
Where: Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Who: NASA, North American Aviation
Losses: $25 billion

The Apollo 1 was the initial crewed mission for the U.S. Apollo Program’s moon landing. The NASA program planned the initial test of the Apollo C&S module. It was scheduled to launch in February 1967 and take two weeks.

Photo by NASA/Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

However, on January 27, 1967, Apollo 1 was doing a rehearsal test when a fire broke out in the interior. It killed all three crew members and was allegedly caused by electric arcs in the cabin, combined with a pure oxygen atmosphere.

The End of British Airships

When: 1929
Where: Allone, France
Who: Royal Airship Works, V.C. Richmond
Losses: $58.34 million

The R101’s crash basically ended British airships and killed 48 people, 46 of whom died immediately. The airship underwent heavy testing before the initial flight, so it was surprising when it crashed.

Source: Pinterest

The R101 didn’t do well in inclement weather, like rain, as the rainwater would collect in the ballast tanks. The weather forecast was initially positive but changed when a windy, rainy storm hit. The R101 tried flying anyway but crashed before reaching its destination.

Tay Bridge Collapse

When: 1879
Where: Tay Rail Bridge, UK
Who: North British Railway
Losses: $1.46 million

The Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879 killed around 75 people. A train passed over the bridge during a violent storm, the bridge collapsed, and both went into the water. No one survived, though 15 weren’t recovered.

Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images

Sir Thomas Bouch designed the Tay Bridge with narrow piers. Also, the Bridge’s cross-bracing was weaker and not as extensive as similar Bouch designs. The architect died a year after the Bridge collapsed, his reputation ruined.

An Almost Deadly Design Flaw

When: 1978
Where: New York City, New York
Who: Hugh Stubbins, Emery Roth & Sons, Boston Properties, KlingStubbins, Le Messurier Consultants
Losses: $8 million

LeMessurier Consultants was one of the main designers of the Citigroup Skyscraper. They found that the building was extremely unsafe because it couldn’t stand up to quartering winds due to vulnerable connection joints. LeMessurier convinced Citigroup to fix the problem secretly.

Source: Twitter

Crews worked in the middle of the night to weld two-inch steel plates over the skyscraper’s 200 joints. The dangerous error was hidden from people for 20 years before The New Yorker ran an article in 1995.

The New York Times Emailgate

When: 2011
Where: New York, New York
Who: The New York Times Company
Losses: Undetermined

The New York Times, in December 2011, meant to send an email to a couple hundred customers who had recently canceled their subscriptions. The email offered a 50% discount on NYT for four months to convince them to reconsider.

Source: Pinterest

But the magazine accidentally sent it to 8.6 million people who had canceled subscriptions, not just a few hundred. The Times then commented that they didn’t send the email, which wasn’t true. Money-wise, the damage costs were unknown, but reputation-wise, The Times definitely took a hit.

Grounded British Airways

When: 2017
Where: London, England
Who: British Airways
Losses: $102 million

A 2017 IT failure ended up costing British Airways $105 million in revenue, but also accommodating and re-booking thousands of passengers. The IT error, due to a power surge, led BA to cancel all departing flights from London’s Gatwick and Heathrow Airports.

Source: Reddit

The IT meltdown left the airline struggling to contact support staff. For three days, the flight schedule was messed up, which was especially inconvenient, as this was a holiday weekend. Passengers slept on the terminal floors while they waited for the situation to be resolved.

One Negative Sign Changes Everything

When: 1995
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
Who: Fidelity Investments
Losses: $24 million

One Fidelity Investments tax account found how bad spreadsheet mistakes can be when they transcribed a net capital loss of $1.3 billion from the Magellan fund onto a spreadsheet but forgot to put the negative sign.

Source: Pinterest

The result was a $4.32/share year-end dividend distribution after the net loss became a gain. The dividend estimation was apparently off by $2.6 billion. Fidelity’s managing director had to send a bashful email saying that they weren’t getting a massive windfall.

Overbooking the London Olympics

When: 2012
Where: London, England
Who: London Olympics Committee
Losses: Over $1 million

A staff member accidentally typed “20,000” instead of “10,000” into a cell on the London Olympic Committee spreadsheet. This meant that the Committee sold 10,000 tickets for seats that weren’t there at synchronized swimming.

Source: Twitter

When the overbooking mistake was caught, the Committee had to compensate by upgrading ticket holders. Instead of attending smaller synchronized swimming heats, the 10,000 phantom fans got to attend major events. The loss was calculated to be worth over $1 million.

NewsCorp Acquires MySpace

When: 2005
Where: New York, New York
Who: NewsCorp
Losses: $545 million

When NewsCorp’s Rupert Murdoch purchased MySpace for $545 million in 2005, the social networking site had 16 million users a month and was growing significantly. NewsCorp thought that MySpace would be the only social networking site.

Source: Reddit

Facebook launched in 2006, but it only started competing with MySpace in 2008. In 2006 and 2007, MySpace’s peak, Facebook was basically irrelevant, as its target audience was college-aged kids. When NewsCorp tried to sell it again five years later, Facebook was gaining momentum, and MySpace was only worth $35 million.

A Rare, Smashed Piano

When: 2020
Where: Italy
Who: Unnamed
Losses: $194,000

It can take years to break in an instrument fully, so when Canadian virtuoso Angela Hewitt hired movers to handle her incredibly rare, $194,000-dollar piano, she completely trusted them. She didn’t expect them to drop it and smash it to pieces.

Source: Pinterest

Angela took to Facebook to talk about the incident, saying that essentially every part of the piano was completely destroyed. She was heartbroken by this loss, as she truly considered her piano one of her friends.

Ron Wayne Returns His Apple Shares

When: 1976
Where: San Francisco
Who: Apple
Losses: $95 billion

Besides Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Apple once had a third partner. Ron Wayne held a 10% share in the company back in the 1970s when he came on board to help steer the young founders.

Source: Twitter

10% of the small enterprise at the time didn’t seem like a safe bet. Wayne had possessions that could get seized if the business went under, so after less than two weeks on board, he sold his share back to Wozniak and Jobs for $800. Today, 10% would be equal to $95 billion.

The Wobbling Bridge

When: 2000
Where: London
Who: Monberg & Thorsen, Sir Robert McAlpine
Losses: $5 million

Construction began on a new bridge across the River Thames in 2000. Given the $20 million price tag, excited Londoners were surprised to see it excessively wobble when they walked across it.

Source: Pinterest

The flaw also surprised engineers, who soon realized it was a phenomenon that occurs when too many people cross the bridge. In order to repair it, they requested an additional $5 million and fitted 37 viscous fluid dampers between 2001 to 2002 to try and disperse the energy.

The United States’ Worst Earthquake

When: 1906
Where: San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
Who: N/A
Losses: $14.466 billion

One of the most catastrophic earthquakes in the history of the US was the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, which struck the San Francisco Bay Area along the San Andreas Fault early in the morning on Wednesday, April 18th.

Source: Twitter

The earthquake had a moment magnitude of 7.9. More than 3,000 people died, and over 80% of the city of San Francisco was destroyed. To this day, the number of casualties is the highest for any Californian natural disaster in the state’s history.

Hurricane Katrina Devastates the South

When: 2005
Where: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama
Who: Army Corps of Engineers
Losses: $217.46 billion

A natural disaster that caused billions in damage was Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 Atlantic storm that killed over 1,800 people. Katrina was the fourth most intense Atlantic hurricane ever to hit land. Katrina had winds reach 175 mph.

Source: Twitter

The damage would have been less had the levees in New Orleans been engineered better by the Army Corps. of Engineers. Though ACE tried to say that Katrina was too big a storm, forensics found that key levees failed even before Katrina actually fully hit.

Kantō Earthquake Shifts the Great Buddha

When: 1923
Where: Kanto Plain, Honshu, Japan
Who: N/A
Losses: $800 billion-$1.2 trillion

The Great Kanto Earthquake struck Japan in 1923. The earthquake was a 7.9 on the magnitude scale, striking deep underneath Sagami Bay. The resulting hurricane was so strong that it moved Kamakura’s holy, 242,000-pound Great Buddha statue almost two feet.

Source: Imgur

This was shocking, especially when considering that Kamakura sits 37 miles from the epicenter. After the earthquake caused the hurricane, additional disasters like extensive firestorms, fire tornados, and civil unrest compounded the death toll.

Australia’s Worst Bushfire

When: 1939
Where: Victoria Australia
Who: N/A
Losses: $5.65 billion

The Black Friday bushfires remain one of the worst bushfires in the history of Australia. Eastern Australia is very fire-prone, and the 1938-1939 bushfire season was made even worse by years of drought coupled with a period of extreme heat (110-112 degrees Fahrenheit).

Source: Pinterest

On January 13, 1939, bushfires burned 4.9 million acres of land, killing 71 people and destroying entire towns. More than 1,300 homes, 69 sawmills, and 3,700 buildings were obliterated.

Yellowstone’s Largest Wildfire

When: 1988
Where: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Who: U.S National Parks Service
Losses: $267.29 million

The flames began as small, individual fires that combined into a giant conflagration that burned for months, eventually burning 793,880 acres. The entire park closed to non-emergency personnel, a first in its history. 42 of the smaller fires were caused by lightning, the other two by humans.

Source: Imgur

There were two civilian deaths. 4,000 soldiers were brought in to help suppress the fires, as other land management agencies weren’t able to handle the situation. The fires only stopped when it began to rain, bringing cooler weather.