Have it be mismeasuring ingredients for a recipe or forgetting to water the plants, making mistakes make humans, well, human. And while those two examples aren’t necessarily expensive mistakes, some people only wish to be so lucky. Major oversites can lead to massive amounts of money being lost on big projects.
Whether it’s the $243.31 million Walkie-Talkie building in London that melts cars or the typo that lost the Japanese company Mizuho Securities Co. $225 million; some mistakes wind up costing more than a pretty penny. Take a look because history isn’t soon to forget these expensive mistakes.
Blockbuster Said No To A Partnership With Netflix
While streaming services are the new norm, people had to go to little town video stores to rent movies back in the day. One such store was Blockbuster Video, the one-stop-shop for all things found on VHS tapes and, later, DVDs. Ironically, Blockbuster wouldn’t be extinct if they didn’t turn down a certain opportunity.
In 2000, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings met with Blockbuster CEO John Antioco to propose a partnership: Netflix would promote Blockbuster on their streaming service if Blockbuster promoted Netflix in store. Antioco said no. Ten years later, Blockbuster went belly-up, and Netflix went on to become worth $15.8 billion.
By Selling Alaska To The US, Russia Lost Out On $200M
In 1867, Russia’s Alexander II went ahead and sold “The Last Frontier,” aka Alaska, to the United States, not realizing that centuries later, it would be a very expensive mistake. Not particularly enjoying the rough terrain, horrible farming land, and high transportation costs, Alexander 11 didn’t think the future state would do him any good.
So, he sold it to the United States for $7.2 million. Fast-forward a century and a few years later, and Russia realized that the States pretty much got away with highway robbery. With its oil and gas reserves, Alaska is well-worth around $200 billion.
The Walkie-Talkie Building That Melts Cars: $243 Million
The Walkie-Talkie building in London, England, might look very cool, but it is the opposite. This particular building has a pesky tendency to get so hot that it’s actually able to melt cars!
During two hours of the day, the building acts as a concave mirror, throwing sunlight back out onto the street at a heat of up to 243 °F during the summer months. With those temperatures, the building’s nickname “Fryscrapper” couldn’t be more correct. Unfortunately, the building cost a whopping $243 million to construct, and now the developer finds itself having to pay off people’s car repairs, too! One man was granted $1,151 in repairs.
Decca Records Said No To The Beatles, Losing $50M In 1964
Record labels have to sign who they think is going to be the best for the company in the long run. And for Decca Records, that wasn’t the Beatles, known as the Silver Beatles back then. The executive of the label, Dick Rowe, turned the band away, thinking their style of guitar was fading out of popularity.
Well, he couldn’t have been more wrong. The Beatles went on to become one of the biggest bands in the world. In 1964 alone, The Wall Street Journal estimates that the band’s record sales were close to $50 million. Talk about an epic mistake on the part of Decca Records.
Metric Vs. Imperial System Lost NASA $125 million
In 1999, a group of engineers preparing to launch a Mars Climate Orbiter made a pricey mistake. The Lockheed Martin spacecraft engineers had a bout of miscommunication, as part of the team gave the other measurements used the imperial system instead of the metric system.
The mishap caused the orbiter to miss its mark, losing the company a total of $125 million. During an interview, the space policy director at the Federation of American Scientists, John Pike, said, “I can’t think of another example of this kind of large loss due to English-versus-metric confusion. It is going to be the cautionary tale until the end of time.”
George Lucas Handed Over Star Wars Merchandising Rights
Considering the entire Star Wars franchise is based around his galactic fantasy, it’s no surprise that George Lucas is a very wealthy individual. Ironically, he could have been more so if he didn’t sign over merchandising rights to the entire franchise over to 20th Century Fox.
We’re talking Lego sets, action figures, and toy lightsabers. Every Star Wars toy on a shelf, Lucas doesn’t see a penny of its profits. In 1978 alone, the year after the release of A New Hope, profits from the action figures alone well exceeded $100 million. Today, they’re into the billions.
Turning Down Harry Potter Cost 12 Publishers Billions
Author J.K. Rowling is a legendary tale of a woman coming from humble beginnings only to push through and come out way on top. Well, for 12 publishers who didn’t believe in the power of Harry Potter, they didn’t follow Ms. Rowling to the top. Instead, they lost out on billions of dollars.
Before landing a contract with Bloomsbury Publishing, Rowling sent out the synopsis for the Potter series to 12 publishing houses. All rejected her. In the end, the Harry Potter books alone grossed around $7.7 billion worldwide! Talk about a pricey mistake on those 12 publishers’ part.
Justice League Superman Reshoots/’Stache Mishap: $25 Million
After the final wrap on the 2017 film Justice League, Superman actor Henry Cavill jumped right into a new project, one that required him to don a mustache, Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Unfortunately for Cavill, reshoots for the Warner Bros. film and principal shooting for the Paramount film became a bit of a mess.
Not only did the Mission Impossible film have Cavil donning a mustache, but the studio wouldn’t allow him to shave it off for reshoots. So, on top of paying a whopping $25 million to coordinate reshoots with the other studio, Warner Bros. also had to pay a visual effects crew to remove the ‘stache digitally.
A Single Typo Cost A Japanese Company $225 Million
In December of 2005, a stockbroker at the Japanese company Mizuho Securities Co. made a pricey mistake. Making a single typo in a data report wound up costing the company a whopping $225 million since it read the company was offering stock for an extremely low price.
In the report, the broker wrote that Mizuho Securities was selling 610,000 shares for 1 yen, which is equivalent to around 0.0096 dollars. He meant to write they were selling for around $5,000. Of course, investors didn’t hesitate to buy up as much stock as possible, losing the company a pretty penny in the process.
The Isaac Peral Was A $2.3 Billion Engineering Mistake
In 2013, Spain commissioned a hi-tech submarine costing a whopping $2.3 billion to build. The Isaac Peral was going to be state of the art. “Was,” being the keyword, since an engineer caught a costly mistake in the schematics. By placing a decimal point in the wrong place, the submarine weighed 77 tons!
Pretty much, it would sink straight down to the ocean floor with no means of getting back to the surface. On top of extended labor costs, the Spanish government had to dish out $11.9 million more just to fix the vessel. After the fix, it was too large to fit in any of the country’s docks.
The Swaying Millennium Bridge Cost $6.6M To Fix
To celebrate the start of a new millennium, the city of London, England, built a beautiful bridge spanning the River Thames. Opening for the first time on June 10, 2000, the bridge had to be closed down three hours later. The engineers didn’t account for foot traffic.
The numerous people crossing the structure resulted in the $24.1 million bridge swaying from side to side in a very Harry Potter-like fashion. In order to make it safe to cross, developers had to spend another $6.6 million. After two years of modifications and repairs, the newly structured “Wobbly Bridge” was reopened.
An Oxford Comma Mishap Cost Oakhurst Dairy $5 Million
The Oxford Comma is used to separate the second to last and last items in a list. Depending on who’s writing, this particular comma can be seen as “optional.” Well, the drivers of the Oakhurst Dairy company don’t see it that way. Apparently, the overtime section of their contract was missing one.
Lawyers disputed that the missing comma changed the meaning of the sentence, making it unclear that overtime wouldn’t be paid out in certain instances. The company wound up paying the drivers $5 million in the settlement. Long story short, Oxford Commas are our friends!
A Proofreading Error Cost Alitalia Air $7 Million
In 2006, Alitalia Airlines learned just how important it is to proofread. That year, as many as 2,000 eagle-eyed flyers looking for bargain deals spotted one, a $39 flight from Toronto, Canada to Cyprus. Talk about a deal! Well, that flight cost was actually a typo. The tickets to fly practically around the world were meant to be a lot steeper, at $3,900.
The lack of zeros cost the airline more than a pretty penny, as they had to accommodate the flyers who paid for the $39 ticket. In the end, Alitalia lost approximately $5 million in ticket sales.
SNCF Purchased The Wrong Size Trains: $68.4 Million
In 2014, French railway stations ran into a bit of a problem when the rail operator, RFF, gave the wrong dimensions to the French company SNCF. The wrong measurements wound up resulting in the purchase of 2,000 of the wrong sized trains.
As it turned out, most of the platforms were way too wide to accompany the newly ordered trains. According to an RFF representative, “When you separate the rail operator from the train company, this is what happens.” Well, their little mistake wound up costing $68.4 million to fix, as they decided to expand the platforms instead of buying new trains.
Workers Lost Control Of A Controlled Fire, Costing Them $1B
It might be ironic, but controlled fires are a way to preserve the wilderness. So, professionals set them every so often to ensure no growth is able to happen. Unfortunately, those controlled fires sometimes lack control, as seen in Cerro Grande, New Mexico, in 2000.
That year, workers lost control of what was meant to be a controlled fire situation. The fire ran its out-of-control course for a month before professionals got a handle on it. As a result, multiple properties burned down and cost that state $1 billion in property damages.
Ronald Wayne Selling His Apple Share For $800
The name Steve Jobs is familiar to a lot of people around the world, even his partner Steve Wozniak; they’re the names of the men who created the Apple empire. The thing is, they didn’t start the company by themselves; there was a third partner, Ronald Wayne.
Unfortunately for Wayne, his and Jobs’ personalities clashed, resulting in the former selling his ten percent share and leaving the company. Well, he sold his share in 1976 for a measly $800, a decision that prevented him from ever reaching multi-millionaire status. As of 2019, Apple is worth $1 trillion.
Excite Backed Out Of Buying Google In 1999
In 1999, a platform called Excite was the most popular search engine, right behind Yahoo! But BakRub, later known as Google, was starting to become a contender. As such, Excite thought to capitalize on BackRub, offering them $750,000. They soon backed out of the deal when BackRub’s stipulation to being bought out was Excite utilizing their technology.
Excite’s reasoning for not purchasing BackRub was because their search function was too user friendly. People would find what they were looking for too quickly, resulting in a loss of revenue for the company. Well, backing out of the deal was a mistake, as Google is with $1 trillion as of 2020.
An Inexperienced Restorer Glued King Tuts Priceless Beard Back On
The funeral mask of King Tut was discovered by Howard Carter in 1925. Now, the priceless gold artifact is on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for all to go and see. Unfortunately, being there under the eagle-eyed gaze of museum-goers makes restorationists want to make sure everything is kept in as pristine condition as possible.
When an inexperienced restorer noticed the beard on King Tut’s mask falling off, he took a pricey matter into his own hands. He went ahead and used an epoxy-based glue to fix an estimated $2 million mask. Probably not the best move.
Not Proofreading Cost New Jersey Education Reform $400M
It was a proofreading error that cost New Jersey a federal grant. The worst part, the federal grant was meant to help education reform in the state. On a report, instead of comparing the budgeting numbers from the 2008 and 2009 years, they supplied the 2010 and 2011 figures.
The comparisons between the years were so large that New Jersey wasn’t granted funding. The mistake cost the state’s education system a whopping $400 million in funding, something they very much could have used in years to come.
Kurt Russel Smashed A 150-Year-Old Guitar Costing $40k
One fateful day on the set of the 2015 film The Hateful Eight, actor Kurt Russell made quite an expensive mistake. For one scene, the production crew borrowed a 150-year-old one-of-a-kind 1860s Martin from the Martin Guitar Museum. In the scene, Russell takes the guitar from his co-star, smashing it on a wall.
Well, the idea was to use the guitar, cut the frame, and swap it out with a cheap replica before the actor smashed it. No one told Russell, who went ahead smashing the actual 150-year-old guitar. Unfortunately, the guitar wasn’t cheap, costing the production a relationship with the museum as well as around $40,000.