It’s been pretty well established that an early visit to Kit Tut’s tomb wasn’t good for your health. A long list of famous people were presumably laid low by a curse for disturbing the pharaoh’s 3,000-year repose. Maybe it’s time to add the name of William Boyce Thompson to the list. According to a letter written to an associate, Thompson was among the second party that got to pay a visit. Though he died six years later of complications reportedly brought on by fat-reduction surgery, maybe the curse was at work.
“We had very courteous treatment at Tutankh Amen’s tomb, and saw everything of the new finds,” the Colonel inauspiciously wrote to his business associate, Charles F. Ayer, from Shephard’s Hotel in Cairo on February 24, 1923, three months after the tomb was discovered. “Mrs. Thompson and I, with Dr. and Mrs. Howell, were the second party to go into the tomb on the opening of the inner chamber last Sunday, the Sultana going down first. A few days before, we had seen the tomb and all the articles which had been removed up to that time.
“I remarked to Lord Carnavon on Sunday: ‘The new discoveries make the old ones look like’ but before I could finish, he said: ‘thirty cents.’ They are surely wonderful and indicate that the Egyptians of that period had reached a very advanced stage in art. I think the Greeks built their art upon a foundation borrowed from the Egyptians.”
Further evidence of Thompson’s presence at the tomb comes from publishing magnate C.W. Barron, who shared a train ride with the couple. “What might have been a lonely journey became a delightful one when C.W.B. encountered his old friends, Mr. and Mrs. William Boyce Thompson,” according to the book They Told Barron. “In the Thompson’s special car he extended his route; the readers will hear these two veterans of the American Stock market discussing Sinclair Oil as they walk under the stars of Damascus.”
Thompson’s acquaintance, Lord Carnavon (George Herbert), who financed the the excavation, was the first to succumb to the curse. Within months of his visit tomb, he died of blood poisoning after accidentally tearing open a mosquito bite, never a good idea. By then the press had already been speculating on the mummy’s curse. George Jay Gould, a wealthy American financier and railroad executive, feel sick almost immediately after his visit in 1923, dying of pneumonia a few months later.
More tangible proof the curse was discovered after Howard Carter, the archaeologist gave the gift of a paperweight to his friend, Sir Bruce Ingham. The paperweight — a mummified hand with a bracelet — was supposedly inscribed with “cursed be he who moves my body.” Could it be a coincidence that Ingham’s house quickly burned to the ground? Probably not, especially considering that he he tried to rebuild, it was hit with a flood.