Curse of the Crying Boy art print

The "Curse of the Crying Boy" involves any number of kitschy prints of a sad child that are said to bring ruin to any house where it hangs. The legend began with a 1985 article in The Sun titled "Blazing Curse of the Crying Boy." A couple blamed the print for a fire that destroyed their home in South Yorkshire, England. The print was the only item to survive. After the article ran, countless other people allegedly came forward claiming that they had the same print and similar experiences. In Fortean Times, David Clarke investigates the Curse of the Crying Boy, the tabloid tale that seemingly spawned it, and the variations on the theme that continue to this day. From Fortean Times:
Cryingboyyyyyyprin Rotherham fire station officer Alan Wilkinson who, it emerged, had personally logged 50 ‘Crying Boy’ fires dating back to 1973, dismissed any connection with the supernatural, having satisfied himself that most of them had been caused by human carelessness. But despite his pragmatism, he could not explain how the prints had survived infernos which generated heat sufficient to strip plaster from walls. His wife had her own theory: “I always say it’s the tears that put the fire out.” The Sun was not interested in finding a rational explanation. It ignored Wilkinson’s comments and claimed “fire chiefs have admitted they have no logical explanation for a number of recent incidents.”

Soon afterwards, it emerged that the ‘cursed’ prints were not all copies of the same painting, nor were all the prints by the same artist. The picture that survived the fire in Rotherham that initially triggered the scare was signed by the artist G Bragolin. The Sun claimed the original was “by an Italian artist”. In fact, Giovanni Bragolin was a pseudonym adopted by Spanish painter Bruno Amadio, who is also known as ‘Franchot Seville’. Attempts to trace him floundered as art historians said he did not appear to have “a coherent biography”. To make matters more confusing, further ‘Crying Boys’ that had featured in the fires, part of a series of studies called ‘Childhood’, were painted by Scottish artist Anna Zinkeisen, who died in 1976. The only common denominator was that all were examples of cheap, mass-produced prints sold in great numbers by English department stores during the 1960s and 70s.
Curse of the Crying Boy (Fortean Times)


  1. There’s a Gogol short story with a similar theme. I’m drawing a blank on the name but it was a portrait of a banker who jumped out of his frame late at night to count his gold.

  2. Somebody send this to Karl Pilkington…he’ll bother Ricky and Stephen telling them “See, I was right about those paintings make them houses burn down”

  3. It would be fun to have a gallery show of all the variations of the Crying Boy one could find.

    1. Hello it is some years later after you had your post up, but I have recently obtained 2 crying children paintings one girl and one boy. I’m so interested in the background of these paintings, but only hear bad things about them. Mine are signed and in very good condition. I cannot tell if they are originals or copies. I want to try to sell them I’m tired of them already. Isn’t there some kind of art gallery that would be interested in these paintings as much as I’am? Please feel freee to reply back.

  4. This was a great bit on the Ricky Gervais show podcast about this.

    All the houses had sinks! That must be it!

    Correlation DOES NOT EQUAL Causation.

  5. There are a couple of these on ebay right now for about $300 each. I guess they are good for helping people burn their money.

  6. I’m curious about why they had an unattractive painting of a crying child hanging in their home in the first place.

  7. So what am I supposed to do with my laughing girl print that keeps bursting into flames, while everything around it remains unscorched?

  8. Did they possibly think asbestos or some other flame retardant/resistant material. Mass produced in teh 60s and 70, sounds like asbestos to me!

  9. Kinkade paintings drain away your soul and replace it with an Original Thought zapper. They also make you fat, and begin to favor polyester knit pants.

  10. I was wandering around a junk store one time and found a display of horrible art. In next to the 4ft x 5ft painting of Sherman burning Misc Southern Town and lamps made out of artillery shells there was a series of oil paintings that must have been way more cursed than that crying boy painting. They depicted (in portrait form) animal headed children sitting down to dinner. The paintings were highly bizarre in that they weren’t cartoony in the slightest. Incredibly realistic kid torso (dressed in frock coat) holding knife and fork in front of an empty plate, but projecting from its shoulders was an anatomically correct rabbit head.


    I should go back there and pick those up.

  11. all were examples of cheap, mass-produced prints sold in great numbers by English department stores during the 1960s and 70s.

    … to people who consider wiring a hobby and/or have luck worse than their taste.

  12. “Correlation DOES NOT EQUAL Causation.”

    EXACTO! Very well said.

    This story has a Latinamerican part.In Chile, where I live, there’s similar tales: the “bewitched” or straight diabolic painting of the crying child. It’s a different picture, tho. (this one, actually!!

    Beside the stories of houses on fire, there was others featuring the painting, a mirror, and candles. Supposedly, you put the painting between the burning candles, in front of the mirror (and I’m not sure if you had to put a plate with water in the middle), all this in the middle of the night, and then… you’ll see the DEVILS FACE in the mirror!!!

    Of course, nobody actually did it…

    The Chilean version of the cursed boy painting apparently came from Spain.The artist (Bruno Amadio, maybe?) supposedly painted the portrait of an orphan child. After he finished and left the town, the orphanage house got on fire and burned to the ground…

  13. That’s what they get for powering the printing machine with an orphan’s heart.

  14. I have to get one of those

    or better yet, paint my own cheesy child in distress and make prints, then arson every house who bought from me.

    wow, that’s a quick way to be a famous…

  15. i can’t wait for the Thomas Kincade “the painter of light” pieces to spontaneously combust!

  16. JOHN COULTHART @26, That is an awesome link. Thanks. I’d love prints of all of them hanging in the same room! (With a sprinkler system.) ; )

  17. Hmmm…

    This make perfect sense. Ever since I hung up that “Dogs Playing Poker” painting I haven’t won the lottery.

    Curse those cheating bulldogs!

    The only way to break the spell is to buy 10 more paintings for all my friends.

    No. Wait, I think it means I need to send 10 packages of Amway laundry detergent to different Nigerian addresses in order to save a child with brain cancer. Or something like that. These things get so confusing…

  18. oh shit, my mom has one of those. I remember it as a kid. she said she got it from germany when she used to live there.
    I wonder if it’s still around the house somewhere.

  19. Thank you for the link, John Coulthart.

    Now I’m reminded of that movie with the evil white haired children, except that they weren’t scary and that kid in the painting was. Wasn’t it based on some Stephen King book?

    Anyway… that painting is the creepiest I’ve ever seen. :D

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