After the execution of Ferdinand Maximilian, the island of Lokrum was offered for sale to the Dubrovnik County. Despite being sold for a mere 20,000 silver coins, the county was not interested in purchasing the infamously cursed island. Sometime later, a certain aristocrat from Poljica bought the island. But the curse of Lokrum was quick to take effect, the man was almost immediately slapped with bankruptcy, and he was forced to put the island up for sale yet again.
The Curse of Lokrum Island
Dr. Jakopovic of Budapest was the next island owner. He was well-known for his connections with Emperor Francis Joseph I. But like so many unfortunate souls before him, Dr. Jakopovic was met with a disastrous fate. Shortly after he purchased Lokrum, it was discovered that he had nothing to prove that he was a real doctor and that there was not a single evidence of him practicing the profession. In fact, an investigation would reveal that Mr. Jakopovic was merely a barber!
Turns out, Jakopovic stole his identity from a dead soldier in 1848. The scandal caused a huge commotion among the high-society members of Venice and Budapest. Jakopovic did not suffer a severe punishment for his crime thanks to intervention from the emperor, but he lived the rest of his life away from society and died a hated man.
After Jakopovic’s death, Lokrum went to the hands of his nephew, who worked as a Hussar. His demise takes the prize as shortest death to ever occur to a Lokrum island owner. On his first day on the island, the young man drowned after a strong wind overturned his boat.
With no one left to claim ownership of the island, Lokrum once again belonged to the Habsburg Monarchy. As the only son of Emperor Francis Joseph I, Rudolf and his wife, Stefanie, were next to inherit the island. The couple settled in Lokrum comfortably at first, adding even more exotic plants to the gardens that surrounded the island. That all changed after the couple welcomed their first child, Archduchess Elisabeth. Their marriage began to strain, and they eventually drifted apart.
Years later, 30-year-old Rudolf began numerous illicit affairs including one with 17-year-old Marie Vetsera. Emperor Franz Joseph demanded that the couple end their relationship. Rudolf decided to take matters into his own hands by shooting himself in the head after murdering Marie the same way. Their bodies were discovered in Mayerling, where nuns continue to pray for their souls to this day.
Alarmed by the stories about the curse of Lokrum, Rudolf’s mother, who also went by the name Elisabeth, offered the island back to the Benedictines. But they would not dare set foot back on Lokrum as they pledged to remain faithful to their brothers’ orders. In the end, the island went to the Dubrovnik Dominicans, who only accepted the ownership under the condition that they could sell it to any of Habsburg monarchs if they desired to do so.
It certainly seemed like the nightmare was going to end there. But the Lokrum curse was not one to be defeated. At the auction where the ownership of Lokrum was put on the table, the organizers were met with a telegram that ordered the auction to be stopped. The telegram read that ““someone from the emperor’s household wished to buy Lokrum.”
So who was this mysterious investor? It was none other than Rudolf’s own daughter, now going by the name Elizabeth Windischgratz, who wanted the island to herself. The island eventually went back to the Habsburgs, this time it was under the direct ownership of Francis Joseph I, the Austrian Emperor himself.
And as the story goes, the carnage continued.
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The fall of the Habsburg monarchs
Empress Elisabeth was the first to fall victim of this new cycle of cursed events. As she returned home to Geneva from Corfu in 1898, she was stabbed with a needle by the Italian anarchist Luigi Lecheni.
One by one, more members of the royal family began to die. The eldest son of the archduke Francis Ferdinand was killed in Sarajevo, and the princess killed her husband’s mistress at a party in Prague. She was later disinherited by her royal parents. Soon enough, the Habsburg line evanesced.
By this time, the superstition that haunted Lokrum Island became so widespread that it drove the people from the nearby towns away. It was eventually developed by the government and was made into a tourist spot, a destination made even more popular by the hit HBO television show Game of Thrones.