Kidnapping seems like a very profitable business, as we can see in 11 most expensive ransoms ever paid. In a majority of cases, kidnappers sought money, but in some, it was done to fulfill political goals. Unfortunately, nobody came up with a plan to kidnap some of most hated television characters. People would pay good money to kidnappers just to keep them away from cameras.
Ransoms have been around for a long time. The idea of holding someone hostage until their loved ones pay out seems like an easy way to make some cash. Unfortunately for kidnappers, there are plenty of cases where the plan backfired. One of the best stories about kidnapping fail and karmic payback is the one about Julius Caesar.
In 75 BC, young Julius was returning to Rome when his ship was intercepted by pirates in the Aegean Sea. Delighted to find a Roman patrician on board, pirates set his ransom at 20 talents, a standard rate for a senator at the time. Caesar laughed it off and demanded the ransom be set to 50 talents of silver. (Roman talent was about 32 kilograms). Pirates obliged him and took him to their hideout in Cilicia, a part of a modern day Turkey while he waited for his friends to gather the money. Caesar spent 38 days with his captives. He spent every day telling them how he will crucify them all once they set him free. Pirates found him very amusing since they were convinced there’s no way a young arrogant roman will find them ever again in numerous bays and coves of the Cilician coast, infested with pirates. However, pirates didn’t know that they were dealing with one of the greatest military minds in history. The error of their ways was shown to them when Caesar appeared with a fleet and captured them. To show his gratitude to the way they treated him while holding him hostage, he did them a favor. Before crucifying them, he had their throats cut. It was considered an act of mercy.
Despite being a great story, Caesar’s kidnapping isn’t among most expensive ransoms ever paid. 1.5 tons of silver seems like a petty cash compared to what some of the victims paid to get their freedom back. The 70s in particular seemed like a golden age of ransoms. 8 out of 11 most expensive ransoms ever paid on our list are from a short period between 1973 and 1975. As the law enforcement technology progressed, the chances of successfully collecting the ransom and avoid getting caught diminished significantly, at least in first world countries. We excluded from the list modern pirates and their tanker ransoms and decided to focus on people instead. Let’s see who paid 11 most expensive ransoms.