It’s been established that an early visit to Kit Tut’s tomb wasn’t good for your health. A long list of famous people was presumably laid low 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 in the second party that visited the tomb. 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. He wrote the letter 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 early visit to 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 (aka George Herbert), who financed the excavation, was the first to succumb to the curse. He died of blood poisoning within a month of his visit after accidentally tearing open a mosquito bite, which was never a good idea. George Jay Gould, a wealthy American financier and railroad executive fell sick immediately after his visit in 1923; he died of pneumonia a few months later.
More tangible proof of the curse’s existence was discovered after archaeologist Howard Carter 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 when he tried to rebuild, it was hit by a flood.