Some ETF investors are gluttons for punishment, according to an analysis of buying patterns and product flows.

“The old Wall Street chestnut of ‘Money chases performance’ stands on its head in ETF land, at least when looking at the top and bottom 30 ETFs with a three year record,” says Nicholas Colas, ConvergEx Group chief market strategist.

The worst performing 30 funds, with an average loss of 83%, have managed to draw over $14 billion of fresh capital over the last 36 months, Colas said in a note Wednesday. The best performing 30 names — up an average of 142% — have only pulled in $5.5 billion. And the top 10 funds have actually lost assets.

Most of the best and worst performing ETFs are leveraged funds geared to magnify the market’s return on a daily basis. They’re designed as trading vehicles rather than buy-and-hold investments.

However, one unleveraged product that has destroyed an astonishing amount of investor capital the past three years is iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX).

The exchange traded note has a market cap of $1.7 billion, according to issuer Barclays. The ETN is designed to replicate the performance futures contracts based on the CBOE Volatility Index. The VIX is known as Wall Street’s fear gauge and tends to rise when stocks are selling off. [Top ETF Wealth Destroyers]

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