Filmed, Edited, and Written By Andrew Perry, TCT News
San Pedro, California – A photograph of a boy encased in an old frame has brought with it a presence that was upset or even angry at first, but thanks to its new owner, the presence is now playful.
Anya Sipivy owns The Winthrop Gallery of Art & Curiosities located at 339 W 7th Street. Sipivy and her fiancé are both “pickers”, or people who collect and sell antiques. She purchased the photograph at an antique store, and ever since bringing it to the gallery, curious things started happening.
Purchasing the Photo
While visiting the antique store in 2019, Sipivy came across a photo that at the time came with a high price tag. “I saw this when I was walking into one of the rooms,” said Sipivy, motioning towards the photo, “and I was drawn to it in a morbid sort of way. I was staring at it for awhile, but it was really expensive.”
One year later she received an Email that the store was closing, so she and her fiancé visited the store again. This time, that photograph was the only thing on the wall. After bargaining with the owner, she was able to purchase the photograph and take it to her gallery. Immediately after bringing it to the gallery, things started to happen. “It got really weird in here,” said Sipivy.
When she purchased the photograph, the store owner told her that the boy’s remains were actually stored inside a compartment in the frame.
A Melancholy Spirit Acts Out
She described the force as feeling very dark or sad. “You could feel it very thick. Our store has a very good vibe in it, but at the time it felt like a mix of sadness, depression, anger. It wasn’t a good feeling … I think oppressive is probably the best word.”
The way Sipivy describes it, the oppression was more from the perspective of the spirit feeling oppressed, as if by its own circumstances. Right after bringing the photo in, physical manifestations started occurring. At 3AM one night, she got a notification from one of the security cameras in the shop. She looked at the notification and the live view from the camera, but there was nothing going on. Then inexplicably, Sipivy said “the camera just falls.” Sipivy investigated the store, as she lives very close by, and the only thing she noticed was the camera fell off.
After that incident, the gallery door’s bell (the kind of bell that rings when a customer enters a store) started ringing, as if something was triggering the motion sensor. “I noticed it would go off here and there, even when the blinds were closed,” said Sipivy. “It would start going off and then I would come to the doorway and feel freaked out.” There was nothing there.
Her fiancé Dave was skeptical for a while, until he too started experiencing the same things. On a day when the shop was closed to the public, they were in the back, “and the door dinger was just nonstop going off. He can’t deny it anymore.”
They have a cat in the store, and it is used to people coming in and out of the gallery, but after a while even the cat started getting freaked out. “She (the cat) started to crane her neck in a weird way and her eyes would get really big, and she would go hide.”
After not being able to find the source, Sipivy suspected that these occurrences might have something to do with the photograph. “I started to sage the place heavily over a three day period, got white candles, and did the whole witchy thing. I didn’t really know what else to do.”
Reassuring the Entity, And A Return to Normalcy
During those three days of saging, Sipivy said she set the intention of communicating to the spirit, saying, “This is your home now. You’re safe. You can be free here. This is a good place. Only joyous energy is welcome, and if you’re not a good energy I don’t want you in here.”
During this period, Sipivy realized that this feeling of melancholy and anger was probably because this spirit had been shipped around, ogled at, and disregarded.
“I knew I had to make a commitment to him that I’m not going to keep moving him around, and that he’s here to stay. That is the moment that I believe the shift from melancholy and anger turned back towards making the gallery a fun, light-hearted place to be, happened,” she explained. Because of this commitment to the spirit, Sipivy does not want to open the backing of the frame to verify or inspect whether there are remains inside.
“Once in a while the door thing still happens, but I’m no longer freaked out about it. I know that I’m being played with. It hits me differently,” explained Sipivy.
“Some people think I’m crazy for thinking that, but I’ve had enough energy pass through here to know.” Sipivy said she trusts the intuition, and that she believes in the ‘thin veil’, alluding to a veil between the physical and spiritual worlds.
TCTN, Experts Weigh In
TCTN reached out to several experts to try and find out the authenticity of the photo and frame.
Suzanne Smeaton, a well-known frame historian, confirmed that the photo and frame are likely from the period indicated (1885). Smeaton added, “Since infant mortality was rampant in the 19th century there was actually a big business in post-mortem photographs of infants. Nice in this case it’s an image cropped from one that was obviously a larger image and shows the child when alive and well.”
Smeaton remarked on the frame’s depth and the pentacle fashioned in holes on the back. “Short of removing the backing to see if there are any marks inside. I am not sure how you would go about learning who made the frame or who the child depicted might be … any identifications or paper labels that may have been affixed are long gone. A very frustrating reality.”
Smeaton also reached out to a colleague who was an expert in sculptures. Unfortunately, that colleague had never seen the figurative piece at the bottom (the boy holding a stick).
TCTN was able to find a similar design as the pentacle on the back of the frame. This time on a wooden chair dating from the same time period. Supposedly, the pattern was to help stitch a cushion onto the top of the chair.
TCTN also tried searching various death databases to match the birth and death year, but without knowing anything about the original of the boy, it is impossible to determine.
There might be a clue with the clubbed cross above the boy, though. That cross is depicted in the flag of Maryland, the flag of New Maryland in New Brunswick, Canada, and it’s also the cross associated with the Episcopal Church. If you think you can uncover this mystery, contact These Curious Times, or better yet – comment below.