25 Weird and Expensive Mistakes

Posted by , Updated on May 15, 2024

Anyone can make a mistake, right? Well, there are mistakes, and then there are mistakes SO EPIC they made the T-Rex in Jurassic Park look like a fluffy kitten chasing a laser pointer.

Thankfully, your average Tuesday gaffe pales compared to these multi-million; yes, you heard me – multi-million dollar mistakes.

From a skyscraper that melted cars to a typo that nearly ruined a company, here – in no particular order – are

the 25 weirdest and most expensive Mistakes in History.

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25

Superman’s Moustache Problem

Mission Impossible - Fallout Casthttps://screenrant.com/justice-league-movie-superman-henry-cavill-mustache-reshoots/

Justice League’s production proved to be a bumpy ride, not least for Superman himself, Henry Cavill. While filming Mission: Impossible – Fallout, he also had commitments to reshoot scenes for the DC blockbuster. 

Unfortunately, a contractual obligation for Mission: Impossible meant Cavill couldn’t shave his facial hair. This posed a unique challenge: How do you integrate Superman’s clean-shaven look into the Justice League reshoots? 

The solution, implemented at a reported cost of several million dollars, involved digitally removing Cavill’s mustache in post-production. This attempt, while technically impressive, became a peculiar footnote in the film’s bumpy journey, forever reminding us that even superheroes can’t escape the occasional follicle faux pas.

24

The $125 million Metric Mishap

Mars Climate Orbiter Arthttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/space/stories/orbiter100199.htm

Launched in 1998, the Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO) was designed to study Mars’ climate conditions. 

And despite leaving Earth, traveling through space, and reaching Mars, MCO tragically disintegrated due to a totally preventable error. 

Lockheed Martin used metric units for thruster calculations, while NASA mistakenly assumed they had used imperial units. 

This discrepancy caused MCO to enter the atmosphere at a dangerously low altitude, leading to engine failure and a spectacular waste of $125 million. 

23

The Submarine That Couldn’t Swim

S-81 Isaac Peralhttps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44871788

For submarines, sinking is easy; the real magic is popping back up.  Spain’s ambitious project, the Isaac Peral, was supposed to be a masterpiece. Launched in 2013 with a hefty $2.2 billion price tag, the Peral already faced its first hurdle before completion – it was too heavy – by about 100 tons. 

They immediately sought the help of General Dynamics, who did their best to save the sinking ship (pun intended). 

They proposed lengthening the sub by 30 feet and adding a reinforced ring, seemingly solving the weight issue.

But a new problem surfaced in 2018. The expanded Peral, now a steel behemoth, wouldn’t fit its designated home port in Cartagena. The port is currently being upgraded and should ensure smooth sailing – literally – for the entire fleet by 2027. Despite the hurdles, the Isaac Peral was christened in 2021 and can resurface without incident.

22

The Stockbroker’s Typo

Tokyo Stock Exchange Main Building (1988)https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/business/2005/12/09/the-typo-heard-round-tokyo/2fdbd44d-ecda-4b80-889f-1c7a3fc25741/

In December 2005, a simple typo cost Mizuho Securities, a Japanese financial giant, millions of dollars. A stockbroker’s clumsy fingers accidentally offered 610,000 shares of J-Com stock for a mere 1 yen (about $0.01) each on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, instead of the intended one share for 610,000 yen (about $5,000).

Like eagles spotting a field mouse, investors swooped in to feast on this unbelievable bargain. A massive amount of shares were exchanged before exchange rules kicked in, which prevented further losses by setting a minimum selling price of 572,000 yen, but it was too little, too late.

The result? A $225 million hit. 

21

The Sinking Of The Titanic

RMS Titanic 3https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofBritain/RMS-Titanic-the-unsinkable-ship/

The icy night of April 15, 1912, etched the Titanic’s sinking into history as one of the worst maritime disasters ever.

Over 1,500 lives were lost after the ship collided with an iceberg. 

Whispers followed, swirling around Captain Smith’s orders to push the Titanic’s limits, chasing a record arrival to show the world just what the Titanic was capable of.

But the biggest mistake lay on the decks. The ship had only 20 lifeboats.

It’s horrifying to think this number was originally 32, but since it was deemed an eyesore, the extra 12 were removed. The tragedy, however, birthed stricter maritime laws, ensuring no ship would ever sail so ill-equipped again.

20

The Dubai Aquarium Leak

Dubai Mall Aquariumhttps://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/feb/25/dubai-aquarium-evacuated-after-leak

Imagine shopping in Dubai’s mega-mall, admiring the glitz when BAM! Water erupts from the giant aquarium, sending Gucci-clutching shoppers running. Well, it actually happened.

The 2010 leak, not the mall’s finest moment, saw nearly 400 sharks and 33,000 other types of fish take an unplanned swim. 

Divers, working in specially designed underwater pods, used advanced sealants to patch the leak over the next few days, all at a staggering price tag of nearly $20 billion. Yes, BILLION.

19

The “New Coke” Fiasco

Coca-cola Soda Canhttps://www.coca-colacompany.com/about-us/history/new-coke-the-most-memorable-marketing-blunder-ever

In the 80s, Coke ruled the soft drink world like a sugary Caesar. However, the status quo changed after a few clever marketing campaigns by Pepsi and the emergence of health trends. Coke panicked. 

They launched “New Coke” in 1985, but the world spat it out. Sales plummeted, Coke scrambled, and within weeks, they put “Classic Coke” back on the shelves.

Several conspiracy theories started flying around – was New Coke a calculated ploy, a genius maneuver to boost Classic’s image through temporary scarcity? Or a colossal blunder, a marketing misfire of epic proportions?

The answer, like the perfect Coke recipe, remains a guarded secret. But we do know one thing: New Coke wasn’t just unpopular; it was expensive. On top of $4 million spent on development and marketing, the New York Times reported the company lost a whopping $30 million due to leftover product.

18

That Time Russia Sold Some Land

Alaskahttps://web.archive.org/web/20080410122537/http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/gp/17662.htm

In the 1860s, Russia faced a dilemma. The Crimean War had turned its European rivals, Britain and France, into hostile neighbors, making it tough to hold onto distant Alaska. 

Meanwhile, its bonds with America were never stronger. Sensing an opportunity, both nations hatched a surprising deal: Russia would sell Alaska to the United States.

The sale, finalized in 1867 for a mere $7.2 million (about two cents an acre), sparked outrage in Russia. Newspapers, politicians, and even ordinary folks denounced it as a foolish giveaway. 

And yes, it was a STEAL!

To add insult to injury – by the 1880s and 1890s, Alaska’s gold rush exploded, showering America with hundreds of millions of dollars. It remains the nation’s second-largest gold producer after Nevada.

Can you guess which other Alaskan mistake also features on today’s list?

17

The $120,000 Banana

Duct Taped Bananahttps://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-65446331

Remember when a banana taped to a wall sold for $120,000? Yeah, contemporary art can be a real peel-er. 

In 2019, while basking in its six-figure glory, the Miami banana found itself eaten by a performance artist just after it was sold.  

Then, in 2023, a South Korean student pulled a similar stunt at the Seoul museum, citing a skipped breakfast and, one assumes, a healthy dose of rebellion.

As it turns out, the museums didn’t even press charges. Why? Well, it turns out the banana wasn’t just a pricey snack; it was also a performance piece with replaceable parts – fresh bananas waiting in the wings to take over when the original got, well, mushy.

16

The Expensive Airline Ticket Mistake

Airplane Tickethttps://skift.com/2012/10/27/alitalia-counts-the-cost-of-computer-glitch/

In 2012, the year Gangnam Style conquered dance floors all over the world, Alitalia, in a fit of digital generosity, dropped a JPY25,000 discount bomb on their Japanese website for specific flights to and from Tokyo and Osaka. 

Unfortunately, their website also applied the discount to other routes. 

The internet, naturally, went bananas (not the $120,000 kind, thank goodness).

Alitalia soon realized their website had gone rogue and, with a heavy sigh and a lighter bank account, fixed the error.

15

The Amsterdam City Council’s €188 Million Housing Benefits Error

Canal in Amsterdam, Netherlandshttps://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2014/01/software_and_staff_to_blame_fo/

In December 2013, Amsterdam’s city council disbursed €188 million instead of the intended €1.8 million to over 10,000 low-income families.

The mistake was due to a software miscalculation, which interpreted cents as euros. 

The no doubt ecstatic families ended up receiving significantly larger payouts than planned, ranging from €15,500 instead of €155 to a single instance of €34,000 instead of €340. 

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the kind of “Dutch treat” the city council had intended, and they recovered most of the mistakenly released funds, with only €2.4 million remaining outstanding when the error became public.

14

France’s Oversized Train Problem

Maquette de MI 79Rhttps://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/10845789/French-rail-company-order-2000-trains-too-wide-for-platforms.html

France’s dream of speedy rail travel hit a major snag in 2014. Their new high-speed trains, ordered with much fanfare, simply wouldn’t fit in over 1,300 stations across the country. The reason? A miscalculation in platform clearances. 

The solution was uncomfortably expensive. Either adjust the trains, a complex engineering feat or modify the stations themselves, a lengthy and disruptive process. Neither option was ideal, and the situation drew its share of amusement (one satirical paper jokingly suggested passengers “pull in their stomachs”). 

SNCF ultimately opted to modify the trains, but some stations also needed platform modifications. The final bill? About €500 million or $548,353,500.00

13

The Laufenberg Bridge

Hochrheinbrücke laufenburghttps://www.science20.com/news_articles/what_happens_bridge_when_one_side_uses_mediterranean_sea_level_and_another_north_sea-121600

In 1994, two Laufenburgs, one German, one Swiss, came up with a grand plan: a bridge across the Rhine, a proper steel handshake uniting their towns. 

Each side eagerly built their half, keen to join hands in the middle – until 2003, when their vision snagged on a 21-inch hitch. 

As it turns out, even seemingly simple terms like “sea level” can be tricky. Germany measures from the North Sea, Switzerland from the Mediterranean, leading to a 10-inch difference they knew about. 

Unfortunately, someone doubled the calculation gap, leaving one side 21 inches higher than its partner. 

To bridge the gap (see what I did there) – they painstakingly adjusted the lower section (at a cost of around €10-15 million), and the bridge finally opened in 2004.

12

The Sinking Of The Vasa

Vasa Warshiphttps://www.pri.org/stories/2012-02-23/new-clues-emerge-centuries-old-swedish-shipwreck

Sweden’s grand Vasa warship met an ironic end just 20 minutes after its 1628 launch. The heavily armed vessel, barely out of the harbor, sank in shallow waters after succumbing to a fatal design flaw: a chaotic mix of measurement systems. 

Builders used both Swedish and Amsterdam feet, leading to uneven weight distribution within the ship. This instability, exacerbated by the top-heavy design, proved disastrous when faced with even slight winds. The Vasa keeled over, and 30 people died.

The ship was finally salvaged in 1961 after spending 333 years underwater, and it now resides in the Vasa Museum.

11

The Skyscraper That Melted Cars

Walkie Talkie Building Londonhttps://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2786723/London-skyscraper-Walkie-Talkie-melted-cars-reflecting-sunlight-fitted-shading.html

London’s “Walkie-Talkie” skyscraper may glitter, but its shine couldn’t mask its flaws. In 2014, it snagged the “Carbuncle Cup” for the UK’s worst building, a dubious honor with real teeth. 

Its curved facade melted more than one car by reflecting sunlight, necessitating an expensive fix: non-reflective window film. 

The building’s sleek form also channels potent winds, buffeting pedestrians and toppling signs. While the exact cost of the fix remains under wraps, they undoubtedly added a hefty sum to the building’s £200 million ($255,269,000.00) price tag.

10

The Guy That Threw His Millions Away

Silver Bitcoin Coinhttps://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-67297013

One man in Newport in South Wales bought a fortune in Bitcoin in 2009, enough to retire on a private island with pet flamingos. Then, in a tragic tech tragedy, he spilled a drink on his drive, left it in a drawer, and forgot about Bitcoin altogether (who forgets about flamingos?!) 

In 2013, he got rid of the drive and accidentally created the world’s most valuable landfill lottery. 

That’s James Howells’ real-life crypto-calamity, folks.

He has offered the city council a quarter of his buried treasure for a dig. But alas, they’re not keen on sifting through mountains of trash for an old hard drive that might not even be in working order anymore.

9

A Lost Tracker Set Off One Of The Greatest Woodland Fires in California

Cedar Firehttps://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/california-man-accused-arson-setting-spree-charged-starting-fire-dixie-n1276523

In 2003, a lost California tracker’s desperate plea for help led to disaster. 

Confused and alone in San Diego’s woods, he lit a fire that quickly spiraled out of control, igniting the infamous “Cedar Fire.” 

The inferno carved a destructive path, scorching over 110,000 hectares of forest, bush, chaparral, and grassland and razing 2,820 homes, in the process claiming 15 lives, including that of a firefighter. The $1.2 billion price tag makes it one of California’s most devastating wildfires.

8

The Inebriated Oil Tanker Captain

Exxon Valdez Oil Spillhttps://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1989-03-31-mn-704-story.html

In 1989, an inebriated captain at the helm of one of Exxon Valdez’s big haulers, carrying 180,000 tons of crude oil, steered disaster into Prince William Sound, Alaska. 

His recklessness triggered one of the most devastating oil spills ever, leaving a swathe of environmental destruction in its wake.

The impact was colossal: 40,000 tons of oil spewed from the gash in the tanker, coating 800 kilometers of shoreline and tainting 7,000 square kilometers of seabed. It caused the death of hundreds of thousands of birds, seals, and other marine life, and ExxonMobil had to cough up over $3.4 billion to scrub the oil, compensate affected businesses, and pay legal fees.

7

The Supercar Storage In Cheshire

Silhouette of Firefightershttps://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9055817/Arsonists-destroy-fleet-70-supercars-barn-conversion-goes-flames.html

If you love high-end cars, you might want to step away for a second because this next item might make you weep. Unless you’re comfortable crying when you watch YouTube videos, then stay, by all means.

In 2020, a fire destroyed several very expensive cars at a storage facility in Chesire, UK. This facility was housing cars worth millions of dollars -not that you would see any evidence of it when you look at the lack of fire-security measures.

The fire charred up over 80 hypercars, supercars, and classic models, some being the only of their kind in the world! In the end, nothing could be saved. Amongst the ruined remains were the corpses of a Ferrari LeFararri, a Jaguar E-Type, rare Bugattis, McLarens, Porches, and Aston Martins. 

6

A Boy Tripped And Punched A Hole In A $1.5 Million Painting

Huashan 1914 Creative Parkhttps://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/25/asia/boy-trips-punches-hole-in-painting/index.html

In 2015, a Taipei art exhibit’s “get close to the art” policy backfired spectacularly when a child tripped, in the process punching a hole in a $1.5 million 17th-century painting and spilling his soda on it for good measure. 

The curator, who’d allowed the unprecedented proximity to the artwork, stood speechless for several minutes after learning of the mishap. Yeah, we bet.

Thankfully, the mishap was an honest accident, and the art experts were able to patch the masterpiece back up.

5

When Sport Turns Fatal

Fútbol de Colombiahttps://www.101espn.com/2018/05/22/world-cup-escobar-murdered-after-colombias-exit-in-1994/

Football fans can get crazy – some more so than others.

In 1994, Andres Escobar, captain and defender of Colombia’s team, was gunned down just ten days after his team’s World Cup loss and subsequent elimination. 

While Colombian fans grieved the team’s loss, a few went over the edge, blaming Escobar for the defeat and subjecting him to a wave of threats. 

Humberto Munoz was later convicted of the murder and served over ten years in prison, but the full details surrounding the murder and who might have ordered it remain a mystery.

4

Steve Rothstein Cost American Airlines Millions of Dollars

American Airlineshttps://thehustle.co/aairpass-american-airlines-250k-lifetime-ticket/

Back in 1987, American Airlines made a bold move – they sold lifetime first-class passes to those who could afford them – never thinking it would be used to the tune of millions of dollars.

Steve Rothstein, a travel enthusiast with wings of steel, bought one for a cool $250,000 and took to the skies, racking up over 10,000 trips in two decades. 

Not content with flying solo, he later added a “bring-a-buddy” feature because family first! Even at 30,000 feet.

But in 2008, things got bumpy. The airline canceled the golden ticket, accusing Mr. Rothstein of “cheating the system” with some “questionable booking habits.” 

The ensuing legal battle became tabloid fodder, with headlines screaming “the worst marketing disaster in human history.” The heart of the issue? Whether Mr. Rothstein’s travel patterns were within the pass’s limits or a one-way ticket to airline bankruptcy. 

Was he a travel-hacking hero or a frequent flyer gone rogue? 

You tell me.

3

The Cleveland Balloonfest Disaster

Cleveland Public Squarehttps://ultimateclassicrock.com/cleveland-balloonfest-86/

Imagine setting a world record for something as innocuous as…releasing balloons. Sounds harmless, right? 

Cleveland, eager to escape a decade of woes, staged Balloonfest ’86 to inflate its image. With 1.5 million balloons taking flight, it soared to a record…and disaster. 

Highways choked on rubber confetti, Arabian horses spooked by the colorful invasion injured themselves, and Canada’s beaches became buried in inflatable flotsam.

But the true tragedy unfolded on Lake Erie. Two unsuspecting fishermen vanished in a storm, their search boat dwarfed by the swirling mass of balloons. The Coast Guard, battling the latex blizzard, couldn’t find them, and both lost their lives.

2

The Alaskan "Bridge to Nowhere"

Sarah Palinhttps://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0SI000/

A few years ago, someone figured it would be a good idea to build a bridge taller than Brooklyn, stretching nearly as far as Golden Gate, for exactly 50 people.

That was the dream (or nightmare, depending on who you ask) for Gravina Island’s bridge in Alaska. The mega-project promised to eliminate the 7-minute ferry ride. Because 7 minutes is just too much, right?

Construction for the bridge was approved in 2005, and a couple of million dollars were paid, and the preliminary work took off. And that was it. Nothing more. The project was scrapped in 2010.

It quickly became the butt of jokes, earning the infamous nickname “Bridge to Nowhere.”

Today, only a few remnants are scattered around the planned bridge site.

1

The Man Who Didn’t Sign The Beatles - Twice!

Mistakeshttps://www.goalcast.com/beatles-rejected-twice/

For The Beatles, fate knocked twice on Decca Records’ door in 1962. Twice, Decca slammed it shut. 

Dick Rowe, head of A&R, uttered the now-infamous: “guitar groups are on the way out,” dismissing the band with a wave of his dismissive hand. Little did he know, their manager, Brian Epstein, had quietly promised to personally buy 3,000 records – a detail, tragically, lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.

Determined, Epstein secured a second audition, a live performance at the Cavern Club. But on that fateful night, torrential rain and a teeming crowd trapped Rowe outside, unwilling to navigate the throng. He retreated to his hotel, unknowingly turning his back on a revolution. In essence, rejecting them twice!

This double rejection cost Decca millions and cemented Rowe’s legacy – not as a musical genius, but as the man who said no to the music of a generation.

Enjoy this list? Check out 25 Biggest And Most Embarrassing Mistakes Ever Made.