Robert the Doll

Written by: Jenae


Robert the Doll

Robert the Doll was a doll that was created in Germany in the late 1800s/early 1900s. He’s roughly 3 feet tall, dressed in a sailor outfit, and had bland features painted on him. He was modeled after the boy he was created for, Robert Otto but he went by Gene. The origin of the doll is debated. Dolls weren’t often modeled after children in these days so weird. Because of this, many believe the doll is haunted with voodoo.


Robert Eugene Otto

Gene and Robert were very close when Gene was a child, they were inseparable. The family said that Gene put a lot of emotion into Robert. Throughout his childhood, they were best friends. Robert went everywhere Gene did and even slept in the bed with Gene. Gene could often be heard talking to Robert when there was no one else in the room. Gene began going by Gene (real name is Robert) after receiving the doll and would tell his mother that Robert was the doll’s name so he can’t go by it.


Anytime Gene was caught getting into mischief, he was always quick to blame the doll. There were times where furniture was flipped over or Gene’s toys had been destroyed as he laughed with glee, Gene would always tell his mother than it was Robert’s doing. These instances got more and more strange and eventually began to scared off hired help, forcing the Ottos to replace the hired help many times. Eventually, Gene’s great aunt suggested taking the doll away. The doll was taken away and locked in a box in the attic. This would be Robert’s resting place until Gene’s father died and Gene was given the home.


Eugene Otto's home, now the The Artist House in Key West, Florida

Once receiving the home, Gene found Robert in the attic. Gene’s wife didn’t like the doll, she swore she had seen it’s face change. She locked the doll in the attic again, but Gene grew angry at this and insisted that the doll get his own room where he could see the street. They left him in the attic.


Then weird things began to happen again. People in the house reported hearing footsteps back and forth in the attic and demonic laughter coming from the space. Others in the town knew about the doll too, school kids claimed it mocked them as they walked by the window. Gene refuted these claims, saying Robert was in the attic, Gene found him in one of the rooms facing a window in a rocking chair. Gene placed him back in the attic only to find him in the same rocking chair when Gene returned from placing him in the attic. Gene ended up dying in 1972.


Eugene Otto's tombstone

After Gene’s death, another family bought the house. This family had a 10 year old daughter. The daughter found the doll and claims it tortured her after she took it out of the attic. She still sticks with that story to this day. The doll was donated to a Key West museum in 1994.


The Key West Art & History Museum, Robert the Doll is housed here.

Robert is unique because of the number of people that have witnessed weird happenings with him. Robert is housed in a museum in Key West, encased in glass. Lights being turned off and on, strange noises around his case, movement of his face, fresh dust on his shoes, and moving positions are just a few of the strange happenings.

Folks have also experienced weird things after visiting the doll like car accidents, divorce, unemployment, and poor health. These can be avoided by “respecting Robert the Doll” by introducing yourself to him and asking if you can take his picture.


Is this something you'd go visit? Let us know!

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