Truth about the Crying Boy curse revealed

SO if someone wanted to give Dr David Clarke a copy of the Crying Boy picture – the one with the 'curse' that triggers fires – would he put it on his wall?

"No, my house is too cluttered," says the investigative journalist and well-known spookologist from Walkley.

Come on, he's not superstitious, is he?

"It's the most horrendous piece of kitsch imaginable," he says in horror.

This time last year the Diary told how David had finally debunked the legend of the curse which began in The Star back in September, 1985.

It had been a routine house fire story in Killamarsh but the Crying Boy picture had somehow survived.

Reporter John Murphy did a bit of digging and found the local fire brigade had compiled a list of 50 similar fires where the painting survived.

The curse was born, whipped into a frenzy by the Sun.

David discovered that the picture was very popular with the kind of people who left chip pans on and discarded lit cigarette ends. It didn't burn because it was printed on compressed hardboard, hard to ignite.

But why let facts get in the way of a good tale?

Now David, who teaches journalism at Hallam University, has been fanning the embers and gets the story on the front cover of next month's Fortean Times, the supernatural monthly.

He's discovered it has gained a new life on the internet with people who have never heard of the tabloid frenzy – Sun editor Kelvin McKenzie even organised a Crying Boy bonfire.

He says: "There are a lot of people who don't know its origins but if you type into Google you get a Crying Boy fan club in Holland and information from Brazil.

"This is a classic urban legend, which appeals to me because it was created by the media in which I work."

David has discovered there are at least five different pictures – and Crying Girls – painted by a mysterious Spanish artist called Bruni Armadio who also worked under the pseudonyms of Giovanni Bragolin and Franchot Seville.

According to one writer the painter, as Seville, painted a street urchin in Madrid called Don Bonillo, who had seen his own parents die in a blaze.

A few years later a car crashed into a wall, turned into a fireball – and the name on the driver's licence was Don Bonillo.

David says: "I've not managed to establish a word of truth in this story but people believe it."

After the Diary's story he was inundated with calls and letters from people who had Crying Boy stories and pictures.

And just months after it appeared there was another Crying Boy house fire back in Rotherham, the epicentre of the legend.

David reckons there is life in the story yet. As Kelvin McKenzie said back in 1985, this story has legs.

"It will be interesting to see what happens next," he says.