The Crying Boy

The Crying Boy [The Paranormal Museum]
"Crying Boy" prints such as this one were mass produced and sold worldwide, and became associated with house fires in the 1980s. © Ethereal ProductionsThis late 20th century "Crying Boy" print is said to have paranormal properties. © Ethereal Productions

These late 20th century prints are reproductions of Italian painter Bruno Amadio’s popular Crying Boys series. Amadio, who was popularly known as Giovanni Bragolin, produced paintings of tearful children for tourists visiting his hometown, Venice.

When prints were mass produced and sold worldwide in the 1980s, the Crying Boy earned a sinister reputation after being associated with house fires. In the United Kingdom, on the 4th September 1985, the “Blazing Curse of the Crying Boy was headlined by The Sun, the most popular tabloid newspaper in the English-speaking world at the time, after a couple from South Yorkshire’s home was ravaged by fire. Despite the downstairs’ rooms of the house being badly damaged by the blaze, their Crying Boy print was untouched, and still hung in its frame on the wall.

As more fires linked to the Crying Boy prints were reported, rumors of a curse spread. It was claimed that the Crying Boys caused fires, and would be the only item in a household to survive the flames. Frightened owners desperately sought to rid themselves of the Crying Boy. After a national extermination campaign led by The Sun, thousands of the prints went up in flames on 30th October 1985 on a wasteland close to the River Thames. However, not all reproductions of the Crying Boys series were destroyed. Those which survived the purge are said to preserve the “Curse of the Crying Boy”, and provide a glimpse into the power of popular media in feeding the spread of paranormal hysteria.

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Title(s): The Crying Boy
Associated people(s): Bruno “Giovanni Bragolin” Amadio (1911 – 1981) (painter)
Associated place(s): United Kingdom
Date: Late 20th century
Material and technique: Paper, card, wood ; print of original artwork
Object type(s): Print
Dimensions: 46cm (height) ; 36cm (width) [without frame: 38 cm (height) ; 28cm (width)]
                          24cm (height) ; 18cm (width)
No. of items: 2
Museum location: Online
Museum collection: Haunted & Cursed Objects
Accession no.: PM2018.3
                              PM2018.4