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Curse of the Hope Diamond
The Misfortunes of May Yohé

A successful actress known for being impulsive, charming, and optimistic, May Yohé married Lord Francis Hope in 1894. Her life thereafter was plagued with personal and financial problems. She and Lord Francis lived well beyond their means and fell into extreme debt. Their marriage ended in 1902 due to Yohé's misconduct with Captain Putnam Bradlee Strong, who she in turn married and then divorced that same year.

Did May Yohé ever wear the Hope Diamond? The answer depends on whom you ask. For her part, Yohé claimed that she had worn the Hope Diamond on multiple occasions. For example, she wrote that she once wore the Hope Diamond to a dinner party in London hosted by Lord Alfred Rothschild, where she enjoyed the attention of everyone in attendance, even speaking with Edward, the Prince of Wales. Lord Francis, however, denied allowing anyone to wear the diamond, stating that, “I became the owner of the stone in 1887 and from that year until I sold it in 1901 it was never worn by any one” (Kurin 2006).

Whatever the case may be, Yohé tried to exploit her association with the Hope Diamond throughout her life. In 1912, hoping to make a comeback as an actress, she performed in Little Christopher Columbus in London wearing a copy of the Hope Diamond necklace for the first time (mounted in a replica of the necklace made by Cartier for the next private owner, Evalyn Walsh Mclean in 1911). In 1921, Yohé helped write a book and film about the curse of the Hope Diamond, blaming it for her failed marriages, financial ruin, and life of hardship (Kurin 2006).

Creator Rotary Photographic Co Ltd
Photo ID NPG Ax160350
Source National Portrait Gallery, London

A matte bromide postcard print of May Yohé from the 1890s

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