The Crying Boy Paintings

What’s the story behind the crying boy painting?
There is a lot of myth surrounding this iconic series of paintings.
The portraits, dubbed the Crying Boy paintings, feature a young scruffy-looking boy (other paintings in the series feature a crying girl) with large sad eyes looking sorrowfully at the viewer.
Complete with fresh tears streaming down his face, the perfectly captured expression of despair.
One story circulating is that the “crying boy” was a young Spanish boy, living on the streets. His name was, Don Bonillo, whose parents had died in a fire.
No one wanted to take him in, because wherever he stayed fires would start. An artist painted him, but then the artist’s studio was destroyed by fire. Whether this story is true or not, has been debated for decades.
The artist in question is Giovanni Bragolin (1911–1981), the pen name of Italian painter, Bruno Amarillo.
The paintings and thousands of prints have been circulating around the world since the 1950s.
When tragic events started accompanying the paintings, many began to question if there was something sinister attached to them. Rumors spread of a curse that was so evil it destroyed its subject and creator and damaged the homes and lives of anyone who purchased one of the prints.
Much like unfortunate Ouija Board myths, the false information spread like wildfire around the globe, fuelled by books and movies. Creating an unfounded and unwarranted level of hysteria and fear. Mainly from those easily led and open to suggestion.
According to urban legend, the curse only affects someone if the owner of the painting becomes aware of it, and the only way to lift the curse is to give the painting to another person or to reunite the boy and girl variations of the paintings.
In 1985, several suspicious house fires in England were investigated, and at each site, everything had been destroyed except for a painting titled “The Crying Boy.” On September 4, 1985, a British tabloid newspaper reported that firefighters had been finding similar paintings untouched at the scene of mysterious fires. Over the next few months, The Sun and other tabloids ran several more articles. By the end of November, belief in the painting’s curse was widespread enough that mass bonfires of the paintings were organized.
Skeptics, on the other hand, provided other explanations. Many seem to have an opinion on this story, from urban legend and a cursed myth to media hysteria and a bid to sell more papers.
A British writer and comedian, Steve Punt, investigated the curse of The Crying Boy in a radio production called Punt P.I.
The conclusion, following testing at the Building Research Establishment, was that the prints were treated with varnish containing a fire repellent and that the string holding the painting to the wall would be the first to burn, resulting in the painting falling and landing face down on the floor, where it would be safe.
Haunted Auckland / Paranormal New Zealand has a few Crying Boy paintings in our archive of items. Happy to report, NO house fires as of yet. Stay tuned for updates!

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