The history surrounding the Curse of Robert the Doll started during the early 20th century with the Otto family in the town of Key West, Florida.
The doll’s involvement surrounded Mr. and Mrs. Otto’s young son, Robert Eugene, with whom the doll was eventually gifted to.
The cursed doll was made in 1906 by one of the family’s Haitian servants before she was dismissed by the household over allegations of practicing black magic and voodoo.
The Otto family were known to not treat their servants well and were reported to even mistreat them. It is believed that for this reason, the dismissed Haitian servant had placed a curse upon the doll before presenting it to the Otto’s young son as a gift.
The doll stood an estimated three feet tall dressed in a sailor’s uniform and decorated with beaded eyes and straw-colored hair.
He appears with his own doll, a small stuffed animal that he holds underneath his arm. Due to the mistreatment the former servant endured, it is thought that she constructed the doll of human blood, hair, and clothes saturated with liquid of the deceased.
It was also thought that she infused the doll with dark spirits and the famous curse as an act of revenge against the Otto’s mistreatment of her.
She then presented the doll to the young family’s son as a parting gift. The Otto’s son took an immediate liking to the doll, naming it after himself and treating the doll as his constant companion.
Robert the Doll accompanied the Otto’s son on family outings, sat at the dinner table with them and even slept in the bed of the family’s son. This companionship continued throughout the boy’s childhood and into his adult life.
As the boy got older, he started to refer to himself by his middle name, Gene, after believing that the name Robert was that of the doll’s and not his to have.
Gene often had closed door conversations with Robert the Doll, in which servants sometimes noted a deeper voice answering to the son’s higher voice.
The Otto’s themselves witnessed moments in which their son was found cowering in the corner in apparent fear of the doll, with Robert hovering motionless above him in a menacing manner.
Gene was also becoming increasingly agitated, having outbursts towards his parents and the family’s’ servants in which he always connected to Robert the Doll.
Strange occurrences began to happen, with objects being thrown across the room apparently of their own volition. Additionally, the son’s other toys and possessions were often found mutilated.
When the Otto’s questioned their son about any of the strange events, he was always quick to blame the mischief on Robert the Doll, often quoting “Robert did it”. The boy’s aunt decided to pack up the doll and store him in the attic, to which the mischief resided.
Robert the Doll appeared in Gene’s life many years later after he inherited the Otto family home due to the death of his father. Having grown up to become an artist, Gene moved into his childhood home with his new wife.
Upon moving back into the house, Gene resurfaced his childhood toy and his attachment to Robert the Doll resumed as it had in his younger years.
Gene continued to have Robert the Doll attend outings with the couple, evening dinners and even sat him in a bedside chair next to the newlyweds’ bed.
Gene even built a specific room for Robert the Doll in the turret of the Otto’s home, and eventually Robert spent much of his time there.
Gene accompanied him, spending time on his paintings while conversing with the doll. Neighbors reported seeing the doll move around in the turret windows, and servants spoke of evil laughter or footsteps coming from the apparent uninhabited room.
There were even reports of people being locked in the room against their will…
Fort East Martello Museum
Gene passed away in 1974 in which the Otto house sat empty for a number of years, with Robert the Doll still residing in the Turret Room.
The tenants to follow continued to hear sounds and reported strange happenings with the residing doll, including sounds of demonic giggling and seeing the doll’s facial expression change.
In 1994, Robert the Doll was moved to a local museum, the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West. He sits in a glass box still holding his toy for visitors to see.
Museum staff warn visitors of the continued curse on the doll. The staff notify curious visitors that they must ask Robert to take his photograph, and only to proceed if he has nodded back.
If he has not nodded, a curse will be set on any person who photographs Robert without his permission.
Robert the Cursed Doll’s glass box is decorated with letters from unfortunate visitors who took his picture without his consent, in which they beg Robert to remove his curse upon them.