KEY WEST, FL.   HISTORY          What is now known as The Artist House, a Key West B&B, was once home to the Otto family and was built by Thomas Otto soon after the Great Fire of 1886 swept the island. Thomas was the son of Key West physician Joseph Otto and eventually became a surgeon himself. He, his wife Minnie and their children moved into the home in 1898 and lived in the home together for some 40 years. Upon his death, the Colonial Victorian-style house - a sterling example of Key West chic - was passed down to his son Robert Eugene who was born in 1900.          "Gene" was a well-known artist who first studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago and eventually in Paris, France which is where he met the woman he would eventually marry, Anne, a concert jazz pianist and a native of Boston, Massachusetts. The two were wed on May 3, 1930 and moved back to the family home in Key West so Gene could better pursue his career in art. Anne had been playing professionally at the famed Rainbow Room in Radio City and in honor of her talents the La Concha Hotel in Key West renamed the room where she performed there as the Rainbow Room. In time the family grew to include two children, Robert and Mispha.        The Otto were quite well-regarded in their decorating skills and the home became a reflection of those talents. Their home became a center of island social activity with lavish parties thrown for the upper-class of Key West. Gene passed away in 1974, but their garish tastes would reflect themselves in the unusual and flamboyant design of the Otto family cemetery plot which includes grave suites and headstones for three Yorkshire terriers named Derry, Little Boy and Sunny and the family's pet deer, Elfina.       THE HAUNTING PRESENCE OF ANNE AND ROBERT THE DOLL          A housekeeper at the inn is convinced that the ghost of Anne Otto stills remains in the Artist House. The are reports that Gene beat his wife and the fact that she is not buried with him in the family plot may bear that out. Objects are said to be manipulated by her spirit. Doors open ahead of you and shutters open and close on their own without the benefit of wind. Anne is said to make her presence known mostly in the turret room, the guest house and the turret room staircase, which she has been seen descending dressed in her wedding gown.              But the most famous and bizarre member of the Otto family was a doll. His name was Robert. Young Gene was raised by very stern parents who had a large staff to maintain the house. One of these servants was a Jamaican woman who served as Gene's nanny and took care of the young boy while his parents would embark on one of their frequent trips away from home. As a result, they spent many hours together.        The story goes that one day the woman ran afoul of Mrs. Otto and as a result was dismissed. Before leaving, she gave seven-year-old Gene a 3-foot, straw-stuffed doll dressed in a sailor suit that was made in his image. As he and his nanny had grown very close, Gene immediately fell in love with his new gift. He named the doll Robert - after himself of course - and from that point on never let the doll out of his sight. Whether out shopping with his mother or going on family outings, Robert the Doll was always in Gene's company. During meals, Gene would sneak food to Robert and whether at bath time or bed time, Robert would be close by.          The first sign that something was peculiar - beyond the boy's all-consuming infatuation with his "friend" - came when servants would hear Gene talking to someone in his room, assumed by all to be the doll. However, they began to notice that a conversation seemed to be going on in which another voice was heard that was obviously not Gene's. At times there would be certain edginess to the other voice, as if it were admonishing someone. At one point Mrs. Otto burst into the room to find her son recoiled into a corner while Robert sat high on the bed facing him, as if looking down upon the boy.          Soon there were inexplicable events happening around the house. Objects would move on their own, doors would be locked behind people, bed covers that were made would appear they had been disturbed as if laid on or sat upon. Gene's toys would be found in a state of mutilation. Then came the laughing - permeating the house without any apparent source of origin. The Ottos even claimed they saw Robert running about the house from time to time!          Still, Gene received the blame for many of the disturbances, but would always proclaim his innocence saying merely, "Robert did it."          An aunt recommended that the parents remove the doll from Gene as it had become the basis and foil for his odd behavior. Despite Gene's protests, the doll was placed in the attic and left there.  The following night, the aunt was found dead in bed at her own home, apparently from a stroke. For whatever the reason, whether apprehension of the (seemingly) coincidental death or the boy's incessant whining, Robert was returned to Gene's side.          Upon his parent's death, Gene - now in his 20s - remained there with his roommate and friend, Robert. Tongues started to wag about town of the strange young man who occupied the estate. The Turret Room (interior below) - once little Gene's area of the house - was designated to be Robert's domain, complete with furnishings and whatever toys Robert had decided to "tolerate". Although the staff had dwindled to just a husband and wife and perhaps out of fear of the place, they would not remain there after sundown nor venture into the Turret Room. Schoolchildren passing the house would report they would see Robert glowering at them from one of upstairs windows.                 Marriage to Anne did nothing to eliminate Robert's presence. He sat at the dinner table with the couple and assumed a position beside their bed at night. At one point Anne grew tired of the doll's constant presence and placed him in the attic, Robert's least-favorite spot. Gene told her that Robert was not pleased and to make amends, returned him to the Turret Room where he had a better view. This placed an obvious strain on what was already a troubled marriage and over the years Mrs. Otto slowly drifted into insanity and eventually died, allowing Robert to have her husband all to himself.          After Gene's death, the house was sold to another family. Soon after they moved in, the family's 10-year- old daughter found Robert alone in the attic as he had been for a period of time. Before long, she claimed that Robert had made her life a living hell and his presence was pure torture for her.  Legend says an incident took place one night that led the owners to remove Robert from the house once and for all. While they lay sleeping one night, they were awakened by the sound of laughter and sat up in their bed, at the foot of which stood Robert, with a knife in his hand. Robert was sent along to the East Martello Museum (pictured below), where he still resides today.              Still, there is some speculation as to whether Robert ever really left the Artist House at all. The sounds of giggling are still heard along with tiny footsteps through the halls. Children still swear they see him peering from the upstairs windows (below) and doors and windows still open, close and lock themselves in the Turret Room.              Life is no more normal at Robert's new home. Visitors claim Robert's expression sometimes changes from happy to frowning. Some have fled from his display case claiming they heard him giggle. Robert can be quite picture-shy as guests examining their photos of him often find there is a blur or a completely black frame where there should be an image of the doll. He is also said to move his toy lion from knee to knee at times. In October, Robert is placed in a glass display case to afford visitors a better view, but they are told they must introduce themselves to Robert and ask to take his picture lest he become offended. According to one Orlando woman who did not pay Robert the proper respect, she was followed home by him and constantly saw his silhouette outside her bedroom window one night.   Robert today