Gallery C

The Figures Move
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Art Work Gaining Fame Because It’s Haunted

By James Donahue

It is a somewhat eerie image. The painting by California artist Bill Stoneham done in 1972 depicts a young boy and a female doll, nearly as tall as the boy, standing side-by-side in front of a glass paneled door. If you look closely at the glass in the door you can see hands pressing against it from the darkness of the room in the background.

The title of the painting is The Hands Resist Him.

The painting was first shown at the Feingarten Gallery in Beverly Hills in the early 1970s. During that show the painting was purchased by actor John Marley. After Marley’s death the painting was found at an old brewery by an elderly California couple who later said the painting was haunted.

When the painting went up for sale again on eBay in 2000, it was presented with an elaborate story explaining the strange activity that allegedly occurred in the home of the second owners.

The story said the characters in the painting moved during the night, sometimes even leaving the painting and entering the room. It was stated that in one case the doll was holding a gun and threatening the boy. Photographs proving the odd goings on were offered with the painting to prove the story. Also a disclaimer was included with the eBay listing absolving the seller from liability.

Of course a story like that gained a lot of attention. The news spread via the Internet like wildfire and the painting became what is believed to be the most “haunted” art work in the world. The auction page was reportedly viewed over 30,000 times.

There was an initial bid of $199 for the painting. But there were 30 bids submitted and the painting was purchased by the Perception Gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for $1,025.

Artist Stoneham said he didn’t understand why the painting would be cursed. He did note, however, that the owner of the gallery where the painting was first shown, and an art critic who reviewed it, both died within one year of coming in contact with the painting. Marley died in 1984 during open heart surgery.