The supernatural tale was definitely good business, as The Sun readers flooded the office with calls numbering in the thousands, saying that they worried about owning a cursed picture, while others had similar fire stories to tell. The story ran and ran, persistently using the words and phrases – ‘curse’, ‘jinx’, ‘feared’, ‘horrified’ – all of which were laden with sinister foreboding.
Other Families and Fires
Dora Mann, from Mitcham, Surrey, believed that her house was gutted just six months after she purchased and hung a print of the painting. Like the Halls, she said that all of her paintings were destroyed – except the one of The Crying Boy. Sandra Kaske, from Kilburn, North Yorkshire, said that she, her sister-in-law, and a friend had all experienced disastrous fires after they bought their copies. Another family, from Nottingham, blamed the print for a fire which left them homeless.
Brian Parks, whose wife and three children required treatment for smoke inhalation, said he had destroyed his copy but soon after found it hanging, intact, on the burnt wall of his living room. Another owner from London, claimed she had seen her print ‘swing from side to side’ on the wall. A woman from Paignton, said that her 11 year-old son had ‘caught his private parts on a hook’ after she purchased the picture. Mrs Rose Farrington of Prestonwrote that since she bought it in 1959, her three sons and her husband have all died.
The Halloween Bonfire
The widespread panic this story produced led the South Yorkshire Fire Service to issue a statement which aimed to debunk the connection between the fires and the prints. It asserted that the most recent fire was started by an electric fire that was left too close to a bed. When news came of another Crying Boy surviving a fire which gutted an Italian restaurant in Great Yarmouth, the Sun asked its readers to send in their copies and they will destroy the pictures in their stead. On Halloween, two van with loads of prints were prepared for burning on a makeshift pyre near Reading. The bonfire made The Sun’s next headline.