The new owner of a ‘cursed’ painting which brought misery to its previous owners says he and his staff have been ‘blighted’ with bad luck since buying it.
The infamous ‘haunted’ painting of a little girl went viral after it was pictured for sale in the window of a charity shop in Hastings, East Sussex with the warning: ‘She’s back!!! Sold twice and returned twice! Are you brave enough?’
Its previous holder Zoe Elliott–Brown claimed she was chased by a ‘black figure’ after purchasing it for £25. She was so spooked she ended up selling it to James Kislingbury, managing director of The London Bridge Experience, on eBay for £1,680.
James put the painting up in the reception of the tourist attraction – which takes guests on a walkthrough tour of the capital’s history – as part of their Halloween display. But the 44-year-old says he and his staff have been plagued by bad luck ever since.
In fact, he claims the attraction in Tooley Street has flooded twice since the painting arrived.
James said: ‘We’ve had a couple of floods on the site between November and December. We came in one morning and the basement was flooded.
‘We’ve had small leaks in the past, but nothing on this scale. We’re lucky that the building is quite robust, so the damage wasn’t too bad, but it was a little bit unexpected.
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‘I know a cynic would say it’s just a coincidence, but given the volume of things which keep happening, I do find myself questioning whether there’s more to the painting than meets the eye.’
On the day James brought the portrait to the London Bridge Experience, their Wi-Fi went down and one of their TVs suffered an electrical fault.
He added: ‘After I brought the painting onto the site, we kept it wrapped up in the back of our office for a while.
‘Nobody knew it was here for a couple of weeks, but staff started reporting sightings of shadow figures following them.
‘One member of staff even said they kept hearing footsteps behind them, but when they turned around nothing was there.’
Dad-of-two James took the painting back to his family home in Reading one evening in late October to do a radio interview.
He claims two of his appliances ‘blew up’ and his father-in-law was taken ill the same day.
Two weeks after purchasing the portrait, James went on holiday with his family – a trip he says was ‘blighted’ by the curse of the painting.
He added: ‘I ended up hurting my shoulder badly and we had problems on the ferry and with the hotel. It was a bit of a blighted holiday to be honest.’
While James was away on holiday, staff put the painting up on display in the entrance to the London Bridge Experience.
Since then, he says visitors have heard whispers and seen shadow people, as well as claiming their own appliances have blown up when they’ve returned home.
The managing director and his team decided to hire a medium to do a reading of the painting in November.
She told them the portrait has links to a hotel in Eastbourne, East Sussex and that the subject was likely dead when it was painted.
James said: ‘We heard all sorts of funny noises during the reading. Even the medium was quite puzzled.
‘But she picked up on a variety of things. She believes the female subject was more than likely painted after she died, and that it was painted by a spiritualist.
‘She also pointed towards a building linked to the painting in Eastbourne, which is now a hotel.’
However, James said the reading left one of his staff members more than a bit spooked.
He added: ‘Our social media chap said he was watching TV when he got home that day and it suddenly fell off the wall and smashed in front of him.
‘He had a lovely big, expensive LED TV which was firmly bolted to the wall, and had been for quite some time, and it literally flew off the wall. It’s bizarre. All sorts of odd things have happened.’
But despite the odd occurrences, James has no plans to part with the ‘cursed’ painting anytime soon.
In fact, he has left it up in the reception area, despite taking down the other Halloween decorations.
He said: ‘It does creep me out a bit, but I’ve gotten used to it now and I tend to brush it off.
‘We’re no stranger to unusual things happening in this building – we have our very own plague pits in the basement.
‘We’re planning to keep it, and we hope it can find a happy home here.’