On September 4, 1985, the British tabloid newspaper The Sun reported that a firefighter from Yorkshire was claiming that undamaged copies of the painting were frequently found amidst the ruins of burned houses. He stated that no firefighter would allow a copy of the painting into his own house. Over the next few months, The Sun and other tabloids ran several articles on house fires suffered by people who had owned the painting.
By the end of November, belief in the painting's curse was widespread enough that The Sun was organising mass bonfires of the paintings, sent in by readers.
Karl Pilkington has made reference to these events on The Ricky Gervais Show. Ricky Gervais dismissed the curse as "bollocks".
Steve Punt, a British writer and comedian, investigated the curse of the crying boy in a BBC radio Four production called Punt PI. Although the programme is comic in nature, Punt researched the history of the Crying Boy painting. The conclusion reached by the programme, following testing at the Building Research Establishment, is that the prints were treated with some varnish containing fire repellent, and that the string holding the painting to the wall would be the first to perish, resulting in the painting landing face down on the floor and thus being protected, although no explanation was given as to why no other paintings were turning up unscathed. The picture was also mentioned in an episode about curses in the TV series Weird or What? in 2012.