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I will admit that as I first read about this a while ago on one of the sites Cletus references I wasn't really expecting the power of suggestion so was a bit creeped out by it -- until I finished reading and started thinking. For one thing Hieronymus Bosch painted more disturbing images on his bad days.

Upon further research I discovered that the artist (and subject) is one Bill Stoneham. Bill not only has a nice web site displaying his art, he even has a page devoted to this particular piece with a fair amount of background information. He's obviously enjoying the attention this meme has brought him as (in classic carnie fashion) he leaves the following bone for superstitious types to wring their hands over:

Both the owner of the Gallery where 'Hands' was displayed and the Los Angeles Times art critic who reviewed my show were dead within a year of the show.

Oooo, spooky! I don't doubt that this is true, but stating it like this is manipulative and in poor taste. I'd also like to know why Mr. Stoneham can't seem to recall the name of the character actor who purchased the painting from him. Does he really hob-nob with that many hollywood types? Thanks for coming folks and don't forget that prints are available so be sure to stop by the gift shop on your way out!

You can read the rest of Stoneham's page on this yourself: http://www.stonehamstudios.com/haunted.shtml