The Curse of the Crying Boy Painting

Updated on March 27, 2018
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An Early Years Teacher from the UK, I have always had the urge to write. I enjoy producing articles about the paranormal and true crime.

Image supplied by Wikipedia
Image supplied by Wikipedia

When I was a young child in the seventies, I became fascinated by a painting in my grandmother’s house. The painting was a cheap print of a popular painting and hung on the living room wall of her small terraced house. The reason I was so fascinated was that the picture depicted a child. The boy was a similar age to me and for some reason looked sad and downcast, tears brimming from troubled eyes. I was so attached to the painting I even gave the sad child a name. A few years after the painting went up on the wall there was a devastating kitchen fire in the house. While the kitchen was destroyed, the rest of the house was undamaged. Despite this, the painting of the boy was removed and thrown into a skip along with the contents of the kitchen. For years it puzzled me why my grandmother did this until I read a series of articles about a cursed painting. That painting was ‘The Crying Boy’.


Image supplied by Massimo Polidoro
Image supplied by Massimo Polidoro

Giovanni Bragolin

‘The Crying Boy’ was one of a series of paintings by artist Giovanni Bragolin completed in the 1950s. The series depicted young teary-eyed children. While it may seem strange to want an image of a weeping child on your wall, the pictures proved popular all over the world. In the UK alone over 50,000 copies sold. The children represented were often poor and very beautiful. One boy's image particularly tugs on the heartstrings, his eyes a sad reflection of his soul. He became known as ‘The Crying Boy’. In total Bragolin painted over sixty paintings and up until the early eighties the prints and reprints of his images, continued to be mass produced.

The Blazing Curse is Born

In 1985 the most popular tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom, printed a story that was to cause panic and end the popularity of Bragolin’s work. ‘The Sun’ published an article entitled ‘Blazing Curse of the Crying Boy’. The story described the terrible experience of May and Ron Hall after their Rotherham home was destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire, much like my grandmother’s, was a chip pan that overheated and burst into flames. The fire spread rapidly and destroyed everything on the ground floor. Only one item remained intact, a print of ‘The Crying Boy’ on their living room wall. Distraught at their loss, the devastated couple made the bizarre claim that the painting was cursed and it, not the chip pan, was the cause of the fire.


A Child is Blamed

The tale would have disappeared into the archives of the strange and mischievous stories that peppered ‘The Sun’, except for one thing. A firefighter claimed that he had attended at least fifteen house fires where everything was destroyed. The only thing left complete in each home was the picture of ‘The Crying Boy’. Before long the story gathered momentum and a rash of fires all over the United Kingdom were blamed on the cursed child. In subsequent articles ‘The Sun’ went onto claim;


• A lady in Surrey lost her house to fire 6 months after buying the painting.

• Two sisters in Kilburn had fires in their homes after buying a copy of the painting. One sister even claimed to have seen her painting sway backwards and forwards on the wall.

• A concerned lady on the Isle of Wight attempted to burn her painting without success and then went on to suffer a run of bad luck.

• A gentleman in Nottingham lost his home and his family were injured.

• A pizza parlor in Norfolk was destroyed including every painting on its wall except for one.

When 'The Sun' reported that even rational firefighters refused to have a copy of 'The Crying Boy ' in their homes, the reputation of the painting was damned forever.


A Halloween Bonfire

In all these cases, and many more that were reported, the painting of ‘The Crying Boy’ remained unharmed. Eventually, if there was an image of a crying child by any artist in a house that went on fire, the painting was blamed. Some claimed that they experienced bad luck if they attempted to destroy or get rid of their paintings. Others were convinced that it was only a matter of time before disaster struck them. After printing more articles and scare stories, ‘The Sun’ offered a frightened public a solution. On Halloween 1985, hundreds of the paintings were collected together by the newspaper and burnt under the supervision of the Fire Brigade.

The Curse

So why would this seemingly innocent series of paintings be cursed? Before long speculation was rife. Theories ranged from the little boy being a gypsy child whose family placed a curse on the artist. Some claimed that the child had died in a fire and his spirit was trapped in the painting. The most enduring story claimed the crying boy accidentally set fire to the studio of the artist who had painted him. The child’s parents had also been killed in a blaze. Wherever the little orphan went fires mysteriously followed, earning him the nickname Diablo or Devil. The boy supposedly survived to early adulthood but was tragically killed when his car crashed and burst into flames. From then onwards it was his image that carried on his cursed fascination with fire.

Debunked

In a bid to debunk the stories that grew up around the painting of ‘The Crying Boy’ various experts offered their own theories. A frustrated Fire Brigade pointed out that in all cases where there had been fires, there was a rational explanation. The fires in almost all cases could be traced back to human carelessness or electrical faults. What they couldn’t explain was the evidence that the paintings often remained intact when everything around them was destroyed. In a 2010 video made by Steve Punt and available on YouTube, a painting of ‘The Crying Boy’ is set alight in a bid to decide the matter once and for all. By the time the fire burns out, the corner of the painting is scorched but it remains largely intact and the face remains untouched. Yet ‘The Sun’ who first published the story of ‘The Crying Boy’ had no trouble incinerating hundreds of copies. Possibly the simplest of explanations is that the picture is printed onto fire retardant materials. Quite simply, the manufacturer of the print created a fire-resistant product that became a victim of its own success. The debate continues.

Punt PI tries to burn cursed Crying Boy Painting

My grandmother was not a superstitious woman. Indeed, she went on to have another much worse fire some years later when her refrigerator overheated. Was she right then, to throw away her painting of my little friend because of unsubstantiated rumours? I think so. While there is probably a very rational explanation for the phenomenon of ‘The Crying Boy’ painting, where curses are concerned I believe it is better to be safe than sorry. Or is it? You decide.

Would you hang a painting of 'The Crying Boy' in your home?

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    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 2 weeks ago from UK

      I will be sure to watch. Thanks for commenting.

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      I'm jaystaitons big paranormal fan he does 3 AM 2 weeks ago

      I have heard of the crying boy but never seen it in real or up in person

      But I am watching lots of paranormal things and I am a huge fan of jaystaytion so make sure you watch him on YouTube

      Just to say I am new here

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 4 weeks ago from UK

      Alexandra please don’t worry. I am sure that your painting is fine. The paintings that people were worried about were on sale in England forty years ago. Lots and lots of copies were made and some people thought they were printed on cheap materials that weren’t fire proof. The newspapers at the time whipped up hysteria to sell copies after a few coincidences. The paintings are on sale all over the world and no other country suffered the same phenomenon as far as I know. Please enjoy your painting. If you are really concerned maybe you could take it down for a while and place it in a safe place until you decide what to do.

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      Alexandra 4 weeks ago

      Hi, please help me, I have one of those paintings but the boy in it looks older than the photos I found online but it's sign by giovanni.....and I can't find a picture of the painting I have(in which the boy looks older) online or in anywhere and I don't lIve in Englan and my country does not speak in english, maybe the painting was brought here.......please......I'm really scared. i have the painting since I've moved into this house with my family and nothing seems to have happened neither to us or the family here before but they wanted to move really fast. As I said I have no idea how the painting came here since I don't lIve in Englan and the previous owners were not related to England in any kind of way. PLEASE HELP MEEE!!!!!!

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      cookie girl 4 weeks ago

      this is so scary if i lived alone i would but my grandma in home alone when me and my siblings and grandpa go to school or work and if anything happned to her i would never forgive myself i do like ghosts a anything like that

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      luna bell 4 weeks ago

      my nan has that exact picture on her wall i told my mum and she said she is gonna take it down

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 4 weeks ago from UK

      Thank you for your comment. I am so sorry you have had such horrible experiences. Fire is truly devastating. As you can see from the comments there are diverse views on the subject of these paintings. I don't think I'd be brave enough to tempt fate and have one in the house, no matter how much I loved the painting. Best wishes, Ann

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      I am sitting in shock 4 weeks ago

      We had a copy of this painting in our living room, and our kitchen on the farm caught fire because of chips cooking in oil that spilled over and yes when I moved to the City years later as a grown up the same thing happened with my in my townhouse. No jokes, no stories.

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 5 weeks ago from UK

      Hi Annah, I would suggest emailing a few auctioneers specialising in art and send them photos of your paintings. It would be very exciting if they turned out to be valuable. Good luck and fingers crossed. Ann

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      annah kontic 5 weeks ago

      wrote an email ref we might have an original of this and forgot to leave my email for contact ..annah1@btinternet.com it is the email ref an italian painter who used to bring his family to lismore every year to stay in castle with duke of devonshire...my nam was a milk maid there and she was given a crying boy and another painting....it does not look like a print but an oil painting and the signiture in top right hand corner looks lkke a w bragolin but hard to make out..it is certainly not a print...the other painting is of a lady in oils we think done by same person but we can't find signiture....they are in old wooden frames..can anybody help

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      Bob the helper 2 months ago

      To be Save or Remove this Curse You have to get a Crying girl to keep him from doing ANY Dangerous Stuff, “Someone said that The little Crying boy would also come out the painting” If you have a Crying boy I consider you get a Crying girl to keep him company!

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      Elisabeth Gardner 3 months ago

      Absolute nonsense to blame a painting or print for a disaster In a house. I owned this painting 20 years ago if not longer and nothing happened ever. People have to much phantasy. If I can buy another one I will.

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 4 months ago from UK

      That is a lovely thought Sumiya.

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      Sumiya Ahmed 4 months ago

      For this boy I felt sad.. But if he is unlucky.. Then I also Don't want to ran my whole family... If he is still alive I pray he became lucky for everyone.. N he deserves love... God bless him

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 5 months ago from UK

      This is the problem Wanor, fires happen unfortunately. Common sense tells you the painting can’t be the cause but are you prepared to tempt fate? I would rest easy and enjoy your cards if they turn up, such beautiful children. Best wishes, Ann.

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      Wanor Sintaro 5 months ago

      Hi Ann... I bought this crying boy post card when I was a teenager in the 80s. One of my most favourite post card collections. I don't believe in this superstition but...my parents' house caught on fire ten years ago caused by a short circuit. Now I am wondering whether the crying boy post card was at my parents' house. I think I have lost it.. :-) &*_*& Have a nice Day!

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 5 months ago from UK

      Thanks for your comment. The whole story is fascinating. Have a good day. Best wishes, Ann.

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      Shrewsbury lou 5 months ago

      We actually had this painting in our condo which traveled with us from from new york. I was told that the boy was crying because if you look at the picture sideways it looks like a face (demon of some sort) can be made from the coat.

      We never had any fires but then again When the picture was packed along with other paintings, this one was in front and tape was used to hold them together for easy transport. When the tape was removed, it left a cross imprint across the picture which may be why we never had any issues.

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      Dilruba Hossain 5 months ago from Dhaka

      your right

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 5 months ago from UK

      Hi Dilruba, many people do believe the curse is real. It certainly became a phenomenon in the united Kingdom during the seventies and eighties. I think opinion is divided. Lots of people would think that the idea of a curse is silly superstition but others are not prepared to take a chance. My grandmother certainly had a fire while owning a copy but then had another severe fire twenty years after destroying the painting.

    • tithi5683 profile image

      Dilruba Hossain 5 months ago from Dhaka

      its real?

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 5 months ago from UK

      Hi Jessica, there is certainly a copy of the painting on the uk and the us versions of eBay at the moment, I don’t know where you are based. If you do a search of Giovanni Bragolin print or Giovanni Bragolin ‘The Crying Boy’, a copy of the print should come up, there are hundreds out there. You have a beautiful child by the way. Best wishes.

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      Jessica Forkey 5 months ago

      I am trying to find the crying boy painting. The painting looks alot like my son. Can you please help I seen it on the TV show Ghost Adventures Artifacts with Zak Bagans and fell in love with it my email address is Jessicaforkey82@gmail.com thank you Jessica

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 7 months ago from UK

      Thanks for your comment Lynn. The children in the paintings are very beautiful. Your son must be very handsome. It is so sad to see them crying. I think you probably did a wise thing. Best wishes, Ann.

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      Lynn Whiat 7 months ago

      I was given a paining of crying boy by a neighbor in Toronto Ontario who thought it was my oldest son, I told her no, she wanted me too have it. I hang it up & over the yrs everyone that came too my house thought it was my son. over 20 years later me& my daughter were watching a show about curses & that photo came up...I was like omg where is that painting, I had put it in basement storage because on one of our moves it had water damage on the bottom. The next day I watch garbage truck take it away. Never wanting it in my house again. We never had a fire all the yrs living in Pickering but came close a few times. I believe someone was looking after us. I just can not believe how much that boy looked like both my sons...very weird

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 7 months ago from UK

      Oh my goodness Harold, hoping and wishing that things improve for you. A lot of people would scoff. I think better safe than sorry. Stay well. My very best wishes. Ann

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      harold fessler 7 months ago

      Bought a print at a flea market around may 2015.

      Sept 1 2015- diagnosed throat cancer. Had surgery, beat it.

      Jan thru Dec 2016 3 surgeries skin cancer. Beat it

      Aug 2017 auto accident, broken back..

      Told my wife sept 2017 to get rid of painting. When we first got the copy of painting I mocked it. The painting is now gone from my home......!!!

    • anncarcat profile image
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      Ann Carney 7 months ago from UK

      I think you are exactly right.

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      mc 7 months ago

      I think that the painter captured the innocence pureness of a soul that can not be destroyed by evil.

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      Lynsey1879 10 months ago

      Yer IV heard this story it's quite an old 1 now, apparently where ever this picture would get put or who ever owned it, a fire was 2 always follow & that would b the only thing intact where as everything &every 1 was burnt,

    • mohamudukash9 profile image

      mohamudukash9 10 months ago

      I am really so sorry to see totally a baby crying and I don't like to force the children to cry.

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