In 1972, Bill Stoneham painted a young boy and a female doll standing in front of a glass-panelled door with hands coming emerging out of the dark pressed against this door. 

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Source: Wikipedia

The story behind the painting was innocent. The boy in the painting is said to be a 5 year old Stoneham; the doorway is representative of the division between the waking world and the fantasy one, and the doll, a guide to take the boy through the doorway. The hands were said to represent the various possibilities of lives. 

Then, in February 2000, the painting popped up on an eBay auction with a description that stated the painting is haunted. 

But, why did the seller think the painting was haunted? 

After finally having been completed in 1974, the painting was first displayed at the Feingarten Gallery in Beverly Hills, California from where it was purchased by actor John Marley, popularly known for his role as Jack Woltz, in The Godfather. 

Source: Golden Globes

Somehow, after Marley's death, the painting came to sit in an old brewery for 26 years before it was discovered by an old Californian couple who were the ones to list the painting on eBay. So, why did they do that? 

In the listing, the couple claimed that the characters in the paintings 'moved' at night; sometimes, even disappearing altogether. 

Source: Representational Image/Better Photography

Along with the listing were a series of photographs that the couple shared to prove that the female doll seemed to be threatening the boy with a gun she came to be in possession of. 

This further came along with a disclaimer that absolved the sellers of any repercussions that stemmed from having purchased the painting. 

Source: Daily Dot

And as is the case with almost every haunting in the digital age, the listing went viral. But, what also became a widespread belief was that viewing the painting alone caused people to feel ill or experience some sort of unpleasant incident or the other. 

BBC UK even reported "people being violently ill or fainting, children screaming upon seeing the painting and observers being gripped by an 'unseen entity'."

Source: Representational Image/Belief Net

The painting eventually received over 30 bids and was sold for $1,025 

But the story of the 'Haunted Painting' - as it came to be known - has continued to assume an air of mystery. According to other reports, it was supposed that within just a few years of the painting's completion 3 men closely associated with it were found dead. The Feingarten Gallery owner in 1981, the art critic who first reviewed the painting, Henry Seldis in 1978, as well as Marley in 1984. 

Over time, the painting became infamous on channels like 4chan and reddit where users who had viewed the painting or purchased prints of the same reported strange mishaps. 

"I still refuse to look at/study this picture more than like, 5 seconds. It creeps me the fuck out," said Reddit user jupiknight

Another user Snoos_my_dawg who used an image of the painting as his wallpaper added: 

My HR department masked me to change it due to complaints from co-workers.Overall everyone reported the same general feeling of uneasiness around the picture as well as even being in the same room with it. People would avoid that room at all costs including my cats.
Source: Reddit

Till date no one knows the reason behind these apparent cases of hauntings associated with the painting that started out as a journey of self-awareness for painter Bill Stoneham. 

The painting went on to be bought by gallery own Kim Smith who remains the present owner of the painting. Stoneham, on his part, went on to create a prequel and sequel to the paintings; both of which are currently housed at the Haunted Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Source: Pinterest

And while we may never be able to verify why this painting is 'haunted', we can verify the fact that it creeped the writer out enough to never want a painting, period.