Once a child"s playpoint, Robert is currently believed by many kind of to be haunted and also is often held responsible for tragedies that beautumn those who disrespect him. Cayobo/flickr
The Steiff Company kind of, which produced Robert, thinks he began life as part of a set of dolls fabricated for a home window screen of clowns or jesters. Courtesy Key West Art & Historical Society

“What world really remember is what they would certainly probably term as an unhealthy and balanced relationship through the doll,” states Convertito. “He carried it everywhere, he talked about it in the initially perchild as if he weren’t a doll, he was Robert. As in he is a live entity.”

After some digging, the museum traced Robert’s beginnings to the Steiff Company kind of, the very same toy maker that initially made a Teddy bear in honor of Theodore Roosevelt. Robert was the majority of most likely never before intfinished to be sold as a toy—a Steiff historian told the museum that Robert was most likely part of a set fabricated for a home window screen of clowns or jesters.

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“Which is sort of adorable,” says Convertito, “Especially via his impish actions it type of suits his personality really well.” Robert’s little sailor suit was not gave by the company; it was probably an outfit that Otto himself wore as a son.

According to legend, young Otto started to blame accidents on the doll. While this can have been laughed off as childish storytelling, adults additionally began noticing odd cases, specifically as Otto and also Robert flourished older. As an adult, Otto resided in a stately residence he dubbed “The Artist House,” wright here Robert might be viewed positioned at the upstairs home window. Schoolchildren swore that he would certainly show up and also reshow up, and also they avoided the house. Myrtle Reuter purchased the Artist House after Otto’s death in 1974, and also likewise became Robert’s new caretaker. Visitors swore they heard footprocedures in the attic and giggling. Some asserted Robert’s expression changed when anyone badmouthed Otto in his visibility. Rueter said Robert would relocate about the house on his very own, and also after 20 years of antics, she donated him to the museum.

Robert’s sailor suit is not original to the doll. It may have initially belonged to among his former owners, Robert Eugene Otto. Courtesy Key West Art & Historical Society

But much from banishing Robert to obscurity, his arrival at the museum noted a turning suggest for the doll.Due to the fact that Robert arrived, visitors have actually flocked to the museum to acquire a look at the mischievous toy. He has actually showed up on TV shows, he has actually had his aura photographed, he is a speak on a ghold tour, and also he’s inspired a horror movie. He has a Wikipedia entry and social media accounts. Fans deserve to buy Robert replicas, books, coasters and also t-shirts, and also the many adventurous have the right to even volunteer to be locked in with Robert after dark.*

And they can—and do—create to him. “He gets most likely one to 3 letters eextremely day,” states Convertito. But they aren’t typical fan letters; they’re regularly apologies. Many kind of visitors attribute post-visit misfortunes to failing to respect Robert (or even openly disrespecting him) and they write begging forgiveness. Others ask him for advice, or to hex those who have wronged them. Convertito claims they have received more than a thousand letters, which they save and also brochure.

Robert additionally receives emails and also homeras. At some allude, it came to be known that Robert had actually a sweet tooth so civilization leave and also sfinish him candy. Once he obtained a box containing eight bags of peppermints, a card, and no rerevolve resolve. (Exercising caution, the museum staff does not consume treats sent to Robert.) Guests leave him sweets, money and, sometimes, joints. “It’s totally inappropriate,” claims Convertito. “We are still a museum.”

Convertito is Robert’s caretaker—when a year she administers a check-up, taking him out of the instance and weighing him to assess whether the humid Florida weather has actually adversely affected his straw-filled body. She is additionally his proxy, receiving and reading all his emails and also letters and running his social media feeds.

The Ft East Martello Museum in Key West has been Robert’s house considering that 1994. Courtesy Key West Art & Historical Society

Several years earlier she photoshopped Robert’s knobby challenge onto the now-well known picture of Kim Kardashian popping a bottle of champagne into a glass well balanced on her behind. It was in order to entice attention to a project that would certainly score the museum a provide if they garnered enough votes. Thunstable the merged forces of Kardashian’s and Robert’s celebrity and also the doll’s social media reach—he has virtually 9,000 Facebook likes—the museum won by a “landslide.”

Occasionally, Convertito coincides on Robert’s behalf. She tries to send somepoint to eextremely kid that writes him (“Gene constantly had actually that childchoose temperament about him and we feel favor Robert would want to be type to youngsters.”) and she has actually additionally responded to even more poignant ones, such as an e-mail from a girl that was being bullied at institution.

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So, does Convertito think Robert is haunted?

“I don’t know. I really don’t,” she states. “I’ve never before had actually a poor experience via him. I’ve never felt uncomfortable. It’s constantly been a really standard relationship and also I have a job to do and also I go and do it. And whether there’s somepoint to it or not, he just enables me to gain on with my project.”

* A variation of this story originally showed up on October 26, 2016. It was updated in October 2021 via the latest news on Robert the Doll.