Haunted house stories abound, but tales of haunted paintings are far less common. It seems most ghosts prefer spacious mansions and sprawling cemeteries to the limited space found in a framed portrait or painting. However, not all ghosts limit themselves to traditional haunting grounds. Here are four haunted paintings and the paranormal activity that made them famous.
Portrait of Bernardo de Galvez
A number of spirits reportedly haunt The Hotel Galvez in Galveston, TX. However, the stories surrounding the portrait of Bernardo de Galvez are some of the most chilling.
Born in 1746, Bernardo de Galvez was a Spanish military leader who aided the American colonies during the Revolutionary War. Bernando, who died in 1786, is also Galveston’s namesake.
A portrait of Bernando de Galvez hangs at the end of a downstairs hallway at Hotel Galvez. Legend has it the portrait’s painted eyes follow guests as they walk by. People who approach the painting often feel chilled or uneasy. The portrait’s haunted reputation naturally appeals to tourists who try to photograph the painting. However, it seems guests can’t get a clear photo unless they ask Bernando for permission. A paranormal investigation team snapped a picture of the infamous portrait, but the photo was marred by a skeletal image. Perhaps they forgot to ask the long-dead Bernando for his consent to be photographed?
The Hands Resist Him
Bill Stoneham’s “The Hands Resist Him,” a.k.a. the “eBay Haunted Painting” is one of the world’s most haunted works of art.
“The Hands Resist Him” features a boy and creepy doll standing in front of a glass paneled door. Stoneham created the painting in 1972, and The Godfather actor John Marley purchased it a few years later. A couple in California eventually acquired the painting and put on eBay in February 2000. Though the painting is creepy, the story behind it is even more so.
According to the couple, the figures in the painting moved around at night and even left the canvas altogether. However, the boy and doll didn’t simply disappear from view. They entered the room in which the painting was displayed. It seems the artwork’s curse didn’t just affect the owners. People who viewed the painting online reported feeling sick and faint. Some people claimed their children ran away screaming after seeing “The Hands Resist Him,” while others claimed to be gripped by an unseen entity. One person tried to print a downloaded image of the painting, but their brand new printer refused to cooperate.
An art gallery in Grand Rapids, MI purchased the painting for just over $1,000 and eventually tracked down Bill Stoneham. The artist was surprised by the haunting stories, but did note that the gallery owner who displayed the “The Hands Resist Him,” and the art critic who reviewed it, both died within a year of viewing the painting. Stoneham has since painted two sequel works, “Resistance at the Threshold” and “Threshold of Revolution.”
The Crying Boy
Italian painter Bruno Amadio created a series of paintings known as “The Crying Boy,” striking images of weeping children staring forlornly ahead. Mass-produced prints of the paintings were first released in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until 1985 that strange stories emerged about the paintings’ knack for avoiding, and starting, fires.
According to a report in The Sun, a firefighter in England claimed that several copies of “The Crying Boy” had inexplicably survived dozens of house fires. The firefighter went on to say that neither he nor his fellow fireman would allow any version of the painting in their homes as they believed the series was cursed. Households with “The Crying Boy” reportedly had a high rate of fires, which caused some to speculate that the paintings were somehow setting homes ablaze. After reading the article in The Sun, many people were eager to get rid of the paintings, so the tabloid organized a Halloween bonfire to destroy the prints. Reports of the “The Crying Boy” surviving fires dramatically decreased after that, though the occasional tale still pops up.
The Anguished Man
In 2010, a man named Sean Robinson reported strange activity in his home. Sean blamed the eerie events on a painting known as “The Anguished Man” and set up a camera to share the paranormal activity with viewers.
According to Robinson, his grandmother originally owned the painting and believed it was cursed. She told Sean she saw dark figures near the painting and heard moans and cries in the night. She also claimed the artist had committed suicide after finishing “The Anguished Man” and that he had mixed his own blood with the paint. Sean inherited the painting after his grandmother’s death and experienced the strange events for himself. Videos Robinson uploaded to YouTube show slamming doors, rising smoke, and the painting falling from a wall. Many viewers, however, are far from impressed. Robinson uploaded the last video on December 15, 2011. Did the activity die down or was it all just a hoax?