Monday, April 22, 2013

The Hands Resist Him



The Hands Resist Him
Urban Legends

In February, 2000 this painting appeared in an auction on eBay. The painting, titled 'The Hands Resist Him', quickly earned a reputation as tens of thousands of people viewed the item, and more than a few made bids.

The reason for the attention was that the seller made the claim that the painting was haunted. The family added their story, starting from their discovery of the painting, abandoned at an old brewery, to the events and the investigation they carried out in order to try to prove their claims.

Before we get into all of that we will take a step back, and start from the beginning… back to when the artist applied the brush strokes that would soon grab worldwide attention through the internet... and, to keep you interested, here is the disclaimer that was added to the auction:

“WARNING: Do not bid on this painting if you are susceptible to stress-related disease, [or if you are] faint of heart or are unfamiliar with supernatural events. By bidding on this painting, you agree to release the owners of all liability in relation to the sale, or any events happening after the sale, that might be contributed to this painting. This painting may or may not possess supernatural powers that could impact or change your life. However, by bidding you agree to exclusively bid on the value of the artwork, with disregard to the last two photos featured in this auction, and hold the owners harmless in regard to them and their impact, expressed or implied.”

In 1972 Bill Stoneham, an artist from Oakland, California used an old photo of himself from the age of five, to be the model for the boy in the painting. The boy is either looking to the future, or the viewer is looking back into their past.

The hands seen in the windows are other potential routes and possibilities his life path may have taken, or other potential lives that may have been, but he does not see them, his back is turned. The little girl doll is his guide through life, though she is holding a piece of herself, a battery and some wires. What to her would have been the power of autonomy is removed, yet she still stands... a first step towards her own life?

Finally, the glass door is a veil between waking and dreaming, and perhaps between life and death.

Stoneham displayed the piece at an art show he put on in Los Angeles in the early 70's. The painting eventually sold to actor John Marley, who played Jack Woltz in 'the Godfather' (the character who awakens to find the severed head of his prized horse in bed with him.)

Before the painting was sold, it was reviewed by an art critic who died within the year, as did the owner of the art gallery. No doubt a coincidence, but Stoneham does speculate this may be the beginning of some sort of curse...

John Marley died in 1984 after open heart surgery. He was interred at Cedar Park Cemetery in Emerson, New Jersey, and no doubt the painting went into someone else's possession.

From that point on, the journey of the painting was a mystery, until it turned up when a family found it, abandoned, behind an old brewery. Without thinking twice, the family took the painting home, but soon wished they had not.

The painting had only been in the house for a few days when the young daughter started to complain about it. She told how the 'children' in the painting would fight; the girl (aka the doll) would threaten the boy with the object she was holding in her hand. Finally, after a good period of time, the girl started talking about how the figures would leave the painting as 'ghosts' and continue their fighting.

The parents decided to try to persuade their daughter that the painting was just a painting, and in order to do that they set up a motion activated camera to watch the painting for them.

For three days and nights they let the camera keep its vigilant lens on the painting, and after that period of time they went to view any of the footage it may have captured. Remember, this is a motion activated camera, so if it found no movement there would be nothing recorded.

However, to the shock of the family, the camera had indeed recorded several pieces of footage. What the camera seemed to capture was the painting almost taking on a life of its own... although the figures did not seem to be moving, the colours changed and the object in the girls hand took on the resemblance of a gun or other weapon, and not the battery she had been carrying before.

The object in her hand may have seemed to have changed due to different lighting conditions being present in the dark, but the family insists that something was remiss with the painting. They wanted to get rid of it, but rather then burning it or destroying it in any other way; they decided to let the public decide.

The put it up as an auction on eBay, and the buyer could do with it as they wanted.

The opening bid started at $199, but at the end of the auction the painting had sold to the 'Perception Gallery' in Grand Rapids, Michigan for $1025. The gallery got in contact with Bill Stoneham, the artist, and the back story you read at the beginning of this article came to light.

Bill was not expecting all the fuss over his painting, but was not entirely surprised. There had been the deaths at the original art show, and the fact he put a lot of himself into the painting. He says his paintings resonate strongly with lots of people by opening an inner door, or even channelling through his art. If that is the case maybe something has been caught in his strokes?

All throughout the auction on eBay, and subsequently its placement in its new home at the Perception Gallery, the painting still affects those who view it. People feel ill and a few have fainted. Children seem to be the most affected, having vivid nightmares the night after seeing it, and waking up screaming.

Haunted, cursed or all in peoples heads, it does not really matter. Something strange seems to befall many of the people who have set their eyes on this art, and that in itself makes for a great story.


(Since the popularity of the painting Bill Stoneham has had two sequel to the paintings commissioned 'Resistance at the Threshold' depicts the boy aged another 40 years and 'Threshold of Revelation' shows the boy aged 70+ years and the doll now a little girl. View them here: http://stonehamstudios.com/hands-series.html)

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