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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Death
The Mona Lisa Suicide — Occasionally I've run across references to a French artist who supposedly committed suicide because he was driven mad by the mystery of the Mona Lisa's smile. There aren't many details to the story. The Telegraph, in an article from 2003, summarizes the entire tale: On June 23, 1852, a young French artist, Luc Maspero, threw himself from the fourth floor window of his Paris hotel. In a final letter, he wrote: "For years I have grappled desperately with [Mona Lisa's] smile. I prefer to…
Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2008.   Comments (4)

Mystery Coffin — A woman walking her dog in the Welsh countryside recently found an empty coffin sitting in the middle of a field. The coffin had a note in it: "Jump in, you're next." No one knows who put the coffin there, but the likely suspects are local students since it's freshman week and there have been other pranks in the region, such as "a tree full of knickers and a young driver sticky taped into his car." Link: North Wales Chronicle
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (4)

Ken Campbell and the Royal Dickens Company — Ken Campbell recently died at the age of 66. The Telegraph's obituary describes him as "an actor, writer and director of wilful eccentricity" who worked in experimental theater. However, he was perhaps best known for a hoax he pulled off in 1980, when he sent around letters announcing that the Royal Shakespeare Company was renaming itself the Royal Dickens Company. I couldn't find a good description of this hoax online (and, unfortunately, I've never gotten around to writing one up...…
Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008.   Comments (6)

Did Steve Fossett fake his death? — That's the latest rumor. The Telegraph reports: Lieutenant Colonel Cynthia Ryan of the US Civil Air Patrol has said Fossett, whose body or plane was never found, could still be alive. She said: "I've been doing this search and rescue for 14 years. Fossett should have been found. "It's not like we didn't have our eyes open. We found six other planes while we were looking for him. We're pretty good at what we do." Some anomalies about his disappearance: Only one person saw him take…
Posted: Mon Jul 28, 2008.   Comments (12)


Well-Dying Courses — Suicide has become such a problem in South Korea that many companies, including Samsung and Hyundai, are sending their employees on "well-dying" courses, which involve writing out your will and faking your own funeral. Somehow this is supposed to prevent suicide. From the Financial Times: Before they are "buried", participants are asked to pose for their funeral portrait. Participants enter a "death experience room" where they choose a coffin and put on a "death robe". Course members…
Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008.   Comments (7)

Your classmate has died—but not really — I've previously noted a few cases where extreme shock tactics were used to teach a lesson. (See Fake Attack at Elementary School and Fake Terrorism Drill.) The following case isn't as bad as those earlier examples, but it still comes across as creepy for officials to trick students into believing their classmate had died in order to teach a lesson about drunk driving. From signonsandiego.com: Many juniors and seniors were driven to tears – a few to near hysterics – May 26 when a…
Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008.   Comments (22)

Woman claims to be 120 — Mariam Amash, who lives in the village of Jisr a-Zarka in Israel, claims that she is 120 years old. Her claim recently surfaced when she applied for a new Israeli identity card. She might be telling the truth. Apparently she has a birth certificate issued by Turkish authorities, who ruled Jisr a-Zarka back in 1888 when Amash says she was born. She also has eleven children, the eldest one being in her late 80s. So assuming that her children aren't lying about their ages, Amash would…
Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2008.   Comments (2)

90 Day Jane — Jane has declared that in ninety days she's going to kill herself, and she's keeping a daily blog to share her experiences during her final months. She writes: I am going to kill myself in 90 days. What else should i say? This blog is not a cry for help or even to get attention. It's simply a public record of my last 90 days in existence. I'm not depressed and nothing extremely horrible has lead me to this decision. But, does it really have to? I mean, as an atheist I feel life has no…
Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2008.   Comments (75)

Quick Links: Jan. 29, 2008 — Russian election draws eccentric candidates Four empresses are running, as well as a tsar. Fake tickets offer strange message Police in Boulder are warning drivers to be on the lookout for fake parking tickets that bear this cryptic message: "The foregoing is falsely alleged upon personal initiative. This ticket hereby notes discredibility. Remember: Things could be worse. Get over yourself." I'm Not Dead Yet Polish resident Piotr Kucy is trying to convince officials that he isn't…
Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2008.   Comments (2)

Quick Links: January 14, 2008 — Nuclear Reactor in Garage A 22-year-old man was boasting on an amateur science blog that he had built a mini-nuclear reactor in his garage. His boasts earned him a visit from federal authorities who determined that he didn't actually have a nuclear reactor. But he did have some kind of strange experiment going on that, had it continued, "would have been a cleanup issue." (Thanks, Joe) Dead Man Cashing Check Scam "Two men were arrested on Tuesday after pushing a corpse, seated in an…
Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2008.   Comments (2)

Quick Links: Dec. 3, 2007 — Pie in Santa's Face "A 22-year-old University of Montana student was charged with assault Friday for shoving a pumpkin pie into Santa Claus’ face at a shopping mall while a teen sat on his lap." Save the Park Four students in the UK created a hoax website as a social experiment to test the influence of the media. Their website, savethepark.co.uk, claimed there were plans to build a 220,000 tonne waste incineration plant in a South London park. Within a few weeks their site had received…
Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007.   Comments (4)

Quick Links: Megan Meier, fake lawyer, etc. — I'm on the road up to Lake Tahoe for Thanksgiving, but here's a few quick links I've been meaning to post. Online hoax leads to girl's suicide The case of Megan Meier is attracting lots of attention, both online and offline. Megan believed that a young guy on MySpace was interested in her, but when Josh started to send her nasty messages, she committed suicide. Later it was discovered that "Josh" was a fake alias created by adults in Megan's neighborhood. A bizarre case, and one that…
Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2007.   Comments (25)

Hawk Kills Whitey — The students of Ohio State are in mourning after a hawk killed Whitey, an albino squirrel that was widely known around the campus. A facebook page has been created to honor Whitey's memory. It currently has over 2100 members. The Lantern, Ohio State's student newspaper, reports: Whitey's life was cut short at around 2 p.m. Friday when a hawk spotted his white fur coat from above and flew in for the kill. Several students walking through the South Oval witnessed the aftermath of the…
Posted: Mon Nov 19, 2007.   Comments (7)

Did Morrissey predict the death of Princess Diana? — Here's an unusual theory. David Alice, webmaster of dianamystery.com, argues that the singer Morrissey (formerly of The Smiths) predicted the death of Princess Diana. I would dismiss it all as an elaborate joke, except that the guy seems really serious about it. The crux of his argument (at least in the video posted below) is that one of the songs on The Smiths' album The Queen is Dead, speaks about two people getting killed together in a car crash. And this song was released as an…
Posted: Thu Oct 11, 2007.   Comments (13)

Detective Poses As Corpse — Here's a story about a detective who had to go deep undercover, posing as a corpse in order to catch a man who was vandalizing hearses belonging to a funeral home: The funeral directors contacted the Portsmouth Business Crime Reduction Partnership which hired a team of private detectives. They spent five days posing as members of the public and using cameras to stake out the firm. But cars continued to be damaged under their noses so security firm Storewatch decided one of their team…
Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2007.   Comments (2)

Tombstone Humor — The temperature reached 110 degrees on my patio today. I sat inside the whole day with a fan blowing on me, wishing I had air conditioning, and wondering how anyone could think global warming is a hoax. I also put together a list of tombstone humor, which I posted in the hoaxipedia. My favorite humorous epitaph that I came across, which supposedly can be found on a tombstone in a Maine cemetery (though I have my doubts) is this one: “Tears cannot restore her. Therefore do I weep.”
Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2007.   Comments (18)

Death-Predicting Dog — First there was Oscar, the death-predicting cat. Now there's Scamp, the death-predicting schnauzer. Metro.co.uk reports: Scamp, a Schnauzer, lives at The Pines nursing home in Ohio – where his owner, a staff member, claims he has been present for the death of virtually every patient for the past three years. That's around forty deaths, twice as many as Oscar the cat's kill count of 20. Deirdre Huth, Scamps owner, says that the doomhound always turns up in the hours before one of the…
Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007.   Comments (2)

Poe Toaster Revealed — RainOubliette has beaten me to the punch and already posted about this in the forum, but I've been getting so many emails about it that it obviously belongs here on the front page as well. For decades a mysterious figure has visited the grave of Edgar Allan Poe in Westminster Churchyard, Baltimore on the anniversary of Poe's birthday and placed three roses and a bottle of cognac on the writer's grave. The figure has become known as the "Poe Toaster." Now a man, Sam Porpora, has…
Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2007.   Comments (6)

Oscar, the death-predicting cat — The latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 357, Number 4) contains a short article about Oscar, a cat that seems to possess the ability to predict when people are about to die. Oscar's home is the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, so he has many chances to be around dying people. When patients are about to die, he curls up next to them and happily sleeps there, until they're dead. Then he quietly exits the room. Most of…
Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2007.   Comments (81)

Paris Hilton Lives! — In the past few days, several hoaxes have been circulating on the internet about Paris Hilton. The first claims that she was stabbed in jail. The second suggests that she committed suicide. The appearance of these hoaxes was rather predictable, given the media circus surrounding her time in jail. The method of operation of both hoaxes was to disguise themselves as credible news sites. The "Paris Hilton was stabbed" story disguised itself as a CNN webpage. The "Paris Hilton committed…
Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2007.   Comments (10)

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