Published on: October 6, 2023 at 08:04 pm.
Last updated on: October 24, 2023, 10:33 pm.
Editor’s note: “Vegas Myths Busted” posts new entries every Monday, with a bonus Flashback Friday release. Today’s post in our ongoing series was originally published on February 3, 2023.
The centerpiece of Zak Bagans’ “Haunted Museum” in downtown Las Vegas is a wine cabinet that has been advertised as “the most haunted object in the world.” Also known as the Dybbuk Box, this artifact supposedly has a long history of bringing evil and death to anyone who disturbs it.
Bagans, the main host of Travel channel The “Ghost Adventures” series claimed to have encountered bad magic once he added the cabinet to his collection of gruesome and unsavory artifacts in 2017. His museum also contains Ted Bundy’s glasses, a plaque made from the ashes of Charles’ cremated body. Manson, and the Camaro was owned by David Koresh.
According to the museum’s website, shortly after the Cabinet’s arrival, “mysterious protruding holes began to appear in the walls surrounding the artifact, as if something was trying to emerge from inside the exhibit.”
Bagans was scheduled to open the cursed closet himself as the culmination of a four-hour live Halloween broadcast from the museum in 2018, but he felt so much evil inside, he claims, that he lost his nerve.
Wine cabinet of curiosities
The only problem with the story is that the Dybbuk chest is just an ordinary wine cabinet. In 2021, the man who sold him on eBay 20 years ago, Kevin Maness, admitted in an interview that he made up his elaborately detailed superhero backstory as a social experiment.
I’m a creative writer,” he told Charles Moss, a newspaper reporter inverse, The online journal of science and technology was launched in 2015 by Bleacher report Co-founder Dave Nimitz. “Dybbuk Box is a story I created. Dybbuk Box did exactly what I intended to do when I published it…become a real-time interactive horror story.
The box was reportedly sold for $140 to Lucifer Nitschke, who was at the time a student at Missouri State. Nitschke resold it to Jason Haxton, director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine at A.T. Still University. Haxton wrote about his alleged dark experiences with the wine cabinet in a book called “The Dybbuk Box.” Bagans bought the fund from Haxton in 2016 for an undisclosed sum.
Maness’s elaborately detailed work of fiction even landed him a job as a consultant on “The Possession” since Sam Raimi produced the 2012 horror film based on Maness’s story.
Here’s the story by Maness straight from a 2003 eBay listing…
Maness was a furniture restorer in Portland, Oregon, when he bought a Dybbuk box at a garage sale in 2001. It was sold to him by the granddaughter of a recently deceased 103-year-old Holocaust survivor, Havila, who fled Nazi-occupied Poland. . Havila’s parents, brothers, sister, husband, two sons and one daughter were not so lucky.
Havila Manis’ granddaughter told me that her grandmother always kept the wine cabinet locked and out of reach because there was a dybbuk — an evil spirit in Jewish folklore — living inside. Manis recommended never opening it, otherwise bad things would happen.
Maness ignored the warning, and… Bad things happened. (I bet you didn’t see that coming!)
While restoring a wine cabinet as a gift for his mother, Maness finds a series of strange objects inside. There were two US wheat pennies from 1925 and 1928, two locks of hair, a dried rosebud, a candlestick with octopus legs, a golden wine goblet, and a granite statue inscribed with the Hebrew word shalom. The Shema, a Jewish prayer from the Bible, is carved on the back of the cabinet.
After opening the box, the first bad thing that happened to Manis was a phone call from a saleswoman at his furniture restoration shop. She screamed that an intruder was downstairs, the site of Manis’ workshop, breaking glass and swearing. The intruder also closed the iron security gates and the emergency exit so that she could not escape. When Maness asked her to call the police, his battery died.
Manis hurried back to his shop and opened the gates and exits. When he entered his workshop, none of the lamps worked, and all the lamps were broken in their sockets. Shortly thereafter, the brother of a store employee died by suicide after accidentally knocking a dresser off its shelf. Two years later, this employee also committed suicide.
Mother knows what is best
Not a believer yet? Wait until you hear what happened after Manes finally gave the Dybbuk box to its intended recipient. Again, this is all according to Manis’s 2003 eBay listing…
It was Halloween (because of course it was). While his mother was examining her gift in the store, Maness left the room for five minutes. When he returned, she was unconscious and unresponsive. She had a stroke. The next day, in the hospital, she could only communicate by pointing to the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper. “No gift,” she explained.
On the same day his mother had a stroke, the lease on Manis’ store was terminated without cause or explanation.
“I would destroy this thing in a second,” Manes wrote in his eBay listing. “Except I don’t really understand what I may or may not be dealing with. I’m afraid (and I mean fear) that if I destroy the safe, whatever it looks like it came with The treasury may stay here with me.”
Maness ended his list with the slogan: “Help me.”
There is no such thing as a Dybbuk box—at least, there wasn’t one before Maness coined the term. Now, there are dozens of them for sale on eBay, Etsy, and dybbukstore.com. (Yes, they have their own online store.)
Jewish folklore identified dybbuks as evil spirits, but they were claimed to inhabit living beings, never pieces of furniture.
Manis an act Purchase a wine cabinet at a garage sale. But it was sold to him by a lawyer, not the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. Maness put the strange objects inside it himself. He also carved a Jewish prayer into the back of the cabinet.
Manis’s mother an act She had a stroke, but was home. She did not explain any warnings about ill-fated gifts at the hospital. While the wine cabinet was in Maness’s possession, this was the only abnormally bad thing that happened to him or anyone close to him.
Oh, and Manes never had a furniture restoration shop. At the time he purchased the wine cabinet, he was working on the perfect job of collecting intimate details from the lives of strangers for use in his scary stories.
He was a waiter.
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