Charles street was buzzing with excitement. It was the evening of March 26, 1952, and a crowd of over 100 had gathered in Baltimore’s premier shopping district to see something remarkable. The Hope Diamond.
While his guests drank champagne, Nelson Coleman was trying to compose himself. This night wasn’t exactly going as planned.
The Hope Diamond was the star of the night. Baltimore’s most influential residents were eager to see the rare, natural blue diamond, with a reputation for cursing its owners.
Nelson’s sister Helen, wearing a gown made entirely of pearls, entertained guests as Nelson paced his office. Harry Winston had double-booked the Hope Diamond. The infamous diamond was now halfway across the country.
Nelson knew his guests would laugh at the mix-up. That the 25-carat fancy yellow diamond Mr. Winston sent in its place would please them. What Nelson couldn’t shake had happened an hour earlier.
As Nelson was adjusting the bowtie on his tuxedo, an unexpected guest came through the door. Nelson was immediately star-struck. The Norwegian-American beauty that stood in his jewelry store was the most famous figure skater in the world, Sonja Henie.
In town to perform at the Ice Capades, Mr. Winston had sent her in to view the Hope Diamond. They were finalizing their negotiations for her to buy the stone. Nelson explained the scheduling mix-up. Disappointed, Sonja left to make her performance. What Nelson couldn’t understand was why he couldn’t get that encounter out of his head. He took a deep breath and emerged from his office. The party surrounded him and all thoughts of Sonja Henie vanished.
The next morning he barely remembered his visit with Sonja. His mind still racing with the excitement of the party. He settled in for his morning ritual, reaching for his cup of coffee and a copy of the Baltimore Sun. There it was. 275 people injured, 30 critically. Tragedy at the Ice Capades. What started as a quiet screech during the overture turned into a deafening roar. The filled bleachers, thousands of seats, came crashing 18 feet down to the floor.
Devastated by the events, Sonja spent the night at the hospital. Visiting the victims. She blamed herself for this unbelievable accident. Certain her plan to buy the Hope Diamond unleashed its curse on the innocent audience members. The next morning she contacted Harry Winston’s office and pulled out of the sale.
Six years after these events Harry Winston still had no buyer for the Hope Diamond. It’s unclear how many more people the diamond’s curse affected after that night in Baltimore. But for 60 years the diamond has been safely displayed at the Smithsonian Institute.