Spanish woman who ruined a 19th-century fresco wants royalties

24 September 2012

The 81-year-old woman Cecilia Gimenez who found herself in the headlines when it was revealed that she had attempted to repair a 19th-century fresco is now demanding royalties after her botched restoration became a hit with tourists.

The ‘Ecce Homo‘ fresco (1910) by the Spanish artist Elias Garcia Martinez (1858-1934) began to show signs of aging. The women noticed the poor condition of the painting and decided to restore it herself, “with good intentions”.The image of Christ wearing a crown of thorns has been transformed beyond recognition. The “restored” painting looks like a pale monkey’s face surrounded by fur, with misshapen eyes and nose, and a crooked smudge for a mouth. Some media have called it the worst restoration in history.

But thousands of people have since visited the church in Borja. The airline Ryanair is even offering deals to the north-eastern Spanish city, encouraging tourists to see the fresco. More than 23,000 people have already signed an online petition on the website to halt the town’s plan to return the painting to its pre-restoration glory.

Spanish newspaper El Correo explains that since last week the church has started charging visitors to the site and Gimenez wants some of the money they raise. Lawyers for Cecilia Gimenez say any "economic compensation" would go to charities. Ms Gimenez was favouring charities helping patients with muscular atrophy, because her son suffered from the condition.

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