Art is usually supposed to brighten the life of those who gaze upon it. But in the case of these haunted paintings, art has seriously messed up some futures. These supposedly haunted paintings have been blamed for everything from uncomfortable environments to mass arson.
1. The Hands Resist Him, by Bill Stoneham
“The Hands Resist Him” is perhaps one of the most famous haunted paintings in history. Painted by Bill Stoneham as a way to express his feelings about his adoption, the image shows a terrifying looking doll with black eyes beside a boy who stares directly into the viewer’s eyes. Behind the boy, disembodied hands press up against a glass divider that’s said to represent the barrier between the waking and dream world. The haunted history of the painting dates back to 1974, when it was purchased from an art gallery. Ten years later, the owner of the gallery, the person who bought the painting, and an art critic who had written about it were all dead.
The painting eventually resurfaced on eBay, where its terrified seller claimed the figures in the artwork came to life at night. Some claim that merely viewing the painting causes blackouts and physical illness. The painting has since been acquired by another art gallery and is locked away in the gallery’s storage space.
2. The Anguished Man, by Unknown
Owner Sean Robinson claims this painting has a particularly terrifying backstory. So goes the tale, the troubled and unknown painter of “The Anguished Man” stirred his own blood into the paint as he worked on the image. Soon after completing the piece, the artist committed suicide. Strange activity has haunted the “The Anguished Man” ever since—from shadowy figures and distressed pets to the eerie sounds of crying. The longer Robinson left out the painting, the worse the haunting became. He even documented the latest creepy incidents on his YouTube channel. Today, it’s safely locked away, far from any possible victims.
3. The Crying Boy, by Bruno Amadio
Does this tearful portrait catch your eye? Good news: You can actually score yourself a copy of Bruno “Bragolin” Amadio’s crying boy print, or one of its numerous knock-offs. But be careful, prospective buyer: your acquisition may backfire. The curse of “The Crying Boy” dates back to 1985, when an article in British tabloid The Sun told of a South Yorkshire house fire. The homeowner allegedly possessed a copy of the teary-eyed portrait at the time. While the blaze obliterated the home, the weepy print survived. A follow-up story included additional eerie tales about the seemingly cursed portrait. Some owners told of their own house fires, which “The Crying Boy” survived. A few readers even reported attempting to set their painting on fire … only to find out that it wouldn’t burn.
4. Portrait of Samantha King, by Richard King
This deceptively cheery painting by Richard King hangs in Austin, Texas’ Driskill Hotel, and carries with it a haunting legend. So goes the tale, the young girl featured in King's painting is Samantha Houston, the daughter of a U.S. Senator who fell to her death while staying at the Driskill. Present-day guests claim that merely gazing upon the painting makes one feel dizzy, as though you, too, are tumbling down a set of stairs. Others claim to have encountered Samantha's ghost in the hotel halls, or say that if you look at the painting long enough, Samantha’s face contorts. As with any good legend, the painting's haunting backstory is a mix of fact and fiction—Willow Smock peered into its history and concluded that King's work is actually a replica of "Love Letters" by Charles Trevor Garland. But tell that to the Driskill guests who stood before this portrait and met the paranormal.
5. The Dead Mother, by Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch is well-known for his dark and moody expressionist paintings like “The Scream”, yet only one of his works is haunted. “The Dead Mother”, painted in honor of Munch’s mother, who died of tuberculosis, is said to bear the remnants of its tragic history. The little girl’s eyes follow viewers as they move around her, and some people hear the sheets from the dead mother’s sheets rustling as they stand near.