Have you ever booked the wrong tickets for a journey or traveled to the wrong place by accident? How about buying the wrong item from a store or even getting a gift for someone that they did not like? These mistakes might have cost you some money to rectify. Perhaps you had to re-book your travel tickets and incurred and administration fee, or couldn’t return an item and had to buy another more suitable one. However, despite the fact that the extra expense in these cases may be annoying, it will not have been too costly. You will likely have learned a valuable lesson and have moved on with your life without it affecting you too greatly.
For some people though, this just isn’t the case. The mistakes that they have made aren’t trivial errors in judgement or slight oversights. Instead, they are massive blunders that couldn’t be fixed easily and that turned out to be incredibly expensive. Not only do some mistakes cost dearly in sheer monetary terms, but they can also cause consequences around the world and bring huge corporations to their knees. Regardless of the huge effects the mistakes in this article may have caused, one thing is for certain; they are without a doubt the most expensive ever made.
10. James Howell Throwing Away Bitcoins
In the early days of the Bitcoin during 2009, James Howell mined a large amount of the currency until he eventually managed to accumulate 7,500 Bitcoins. While the value of the virtual currency was incredibly low at the time, making Howell’s hoard worth almost nothing, by 2013 the 7,500 coins were worth in the region of $6 million. Unfortunately for Howell, he had previously thrown the hard drive containing his virtual currency away after spilling a drink on it. After learning about the value of the Bitcoins years later, he traveled to the local junk yard in the hopes of finding the hard drive but couldn’t locate it.
9. French Trains Too Wide
In 2014, French railway operator SNCF began a process of ordering a large number of new trains as they looked to upgrade the public transport system and ensure that the rail network was brought up to modern standards. Using measurements given by the rail operator RFF, SNCF ordered 2,000 trains. Unfortunately, the measurements given by RFF were only for those stations built in the last 30 years and many older regional stations had slightly narrower platforms. This meant that the trains were too wide to go into use, as one out of every six stations couldn’t take them. SNCF then had to spend $60 million to carry out building work at those stations to make them wide enough for the trains to pass through.
8. Ronald Wayne Sells Apple Stock
Ronald Wayne had previously worked with Steve Jobs at Atari, before they both teamed up with Steve Wozniak to start up Apple. He wasn’t just a partner in the technology company either, but was instrumental in the early days, providing the original design of the logo, as well as drawing up the contracts for the partnership between the three and the Apple I manual. However, fearing that the inexperience of his partners would mean that the company would not be successful, he bought his 10% stake out mainly because he had assets that could be seized if Apple went bankrupt. He took $800 for his stake and a further $1,500 a year later but if he had kept his stock, it would have been worth more than $35 billion in 2011.
7. Fox Giving Away Star Wars Merchandising Rights
George Lucas was determined that Star Wars would be made and had to have a number of difficult negotiations with 20th Century Fox, in order to ensure he would get the finances required for the production. Thinking that the film was going to be a huge flop, Fox sought to reduce the directing fee paid to Lucas by around $350,000 and he agreed on the condition that he could keep the licensing rights to the Star Wars brand. As everyone is aware, Stars Wars became a massive hit that has spawned multiple movies, toys, books and video games. Estimates put the total brought in by merchandising and licensing of Star Wars at around $20 billion, with Fox missing out on almost all of that.
6. Piper Alpha Oil Rig Explosion
The Piper Alpha disaster was an oil rig explosion that was the result of a number of mistakes. When maintenance was necessary in 1988, the operator decided to continue to mine oil and gas during the construction of new upgrades. A temporary cover was placed on a pipeline that was undergoing work and could not be used, but this information was not passed on to a key worker. This miscommunication resulted in a massive explosion that cost more than $1.4 billion in insurance for damages, as well as hundreds of millions more in compensation and lost revenue. Tragically, the resulting explosion did not just have a monetary loss, but also led to the deaths of 167 workers who were present on the oil rig at the time.
5. NASA Loses Mars Probe Over Math Error
NASA spent a total of $125 million on the Mars Climate Orbiter over several years. The cost came from researching and development along with the launch to get the probe into space. It was originally designed to study the climate on Mars and report any atmosphere or surface changes back to mission control. Contact with the probe was lost though, shortly before it could begin its mission proper due to a calculation error. While most of the different groups working on the project used the standard metric measurements, one used inches, feet and yards. This caused an error in the transferring of co-ordinates between the various groups that led to the Mars Climate Orbiter travelling too low in the atmosphere and being destroyed over Mars.
4. Howie Hubler Trading Loss
Howie Hubler was a trader at the bank Morgan Stanley. The trader made large sums of money by shorting sub-prime mortgages, but then went on to bet big on the hope that house prices in the US would continue to rise after 2006. Following a downturn in the economy that had global consequences, house prices fell dramatically by the middle of 2007. This led to the value of any mortgages and financial products from the loans lowering and Morgan Stanley lost $7.8 billion in just three months. In total, Hubler lost the bank around $9 billion through his bad trading and was responsible for almost all the losses for Morgan Stanley that year.
3. Typing Error In Japanese Stock Market
In 2003, Japanese firm Mizuho Securities wanted to sell one share in the company J-Com Co. on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The value they put on the share was 610,000 yen, around $5,000. But the trader responsible for executing the sale made a typing error and instead, listed 610,000 shares for sale at just 1 yen. Despite the fact that this number of shares was more than 40 times the actual number of total shares available for J-Com Co., the Tokyo Stock Exchange still processed the order after protests from Mizuho Securities. Eventually the error caused the company to lose somewhere in the region of 27 billion yen, a figure that converts to $225 million.
2. Lost Lottery Ticket
A British couple made a terrible error in 2010, when a woman picked the winning numbers for the Euro Millions Lottery. The prize for the winning ticket was an estimated $181 million, a life changing amount of one of the biggest prizes offered by the lottery in its history. Unfortunately for the woman who picked the numbers, her husband had binned the ticket not realizing it had won the jackpot. The jackpot went unclaimed, suggesting that the woman was the only winner, but some good did come of it, as the money was then shared out to charitable causes.
1. AOL Buying Time Warner
AOL purchased Time Warner in 2000, for a total of $164 in shares, despite the fact that most industry analysts only valued the company at between $100 and $110 million. The internet based company was booming though, with AOL commanding a huge market share of the ISP market with its dial-up services. The dot com crash that came in 2001, one though badly affected the newly merged business to such an extent that it reported a loss of $99 billion in 2002. By 2009, the two companies were split apart to operate as separate entities once again. AOL was valued at just $1.8 billion and Time Warner at $40 billion, proving the entire merger was a huge mistake in the first place.