Spanish woman who botched Jesus fresco demands royalties
Published Friday, September 21, 2012 11:11AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 21, 2012 12:10PM EDT
A woman who destroyed a prized fresco of Jesus Christ in a church in Spain is now demanding royalties after her handiwork became an unexpected hit with tourists.
Cecilia Gimenez made headlines in August after the 81-year-old from the village of Zaragoza attempted to restore a 19th-century fresco by Spanish painter Elias Garcia Martinez.
The 120-year-old fresco is located in the Sanctuary of Mercy church of Borja, and was given to the town by Martinez as a gift to commemorate the years he spent there on holiday.
Gimenez had become concerned about the deterioration of the rare fresco due to moisture build-up on the church’s walls.
The amateur artist has also said the parish priest granted her permission to execute a restoration of the fresco known as “Ecce Homo,” or “Behold the Man.”
According to a report in the Daily Mail, Gimenez told Spanish TV: “We have always repaired everything ourselves here. The priest knew about it. Of course he did.”
Despite her best intentions, Gimenez’s patchy, splattered brushstrokes left Martinez’s delicate fresco looking reminiscent of a hairy monkey draped in a tunic.
Her restoration also earned a new nickname for the fresco from tourists: “Ecce Mono,” which, when translated, means “Behold the Monkey.”
Gimenez has since apologized for her actions and has said that she feels about the incident.
According to TIME, Gimenez said the painting looks as it does because she did not finish the restoration.
Gimenez also contacted a city councillor in charge of cultural affairs in hopes that the fresco could be repaired and properly restored.
Yet the tale of the touched-up fresco has now become an unexpected boon to the Spanish town.
Remarkably, Gimenez’s artless restoration has attracted thousands of visitors to the church near Zaragoza.
The Spanish church earned approximately $2,000 euros in the first four days the fresco went on display to visitors. Visitors were charged 4 euros as an entrance fee.
The budget Irish airline, Ryanair, has also begun offering cheap deals to the Spanish town so that tourists can view the botched fresco.
Images of the restoration have also landed on the top of crepes in Madrid foodstalls and in a skit on the Conan O’Brien show.
Now Gimenez is taking legal action to get her share of the profits from the Spanish church.
According to the octogenarian’s lawyer, Enrique Trebolle, Gimenez wants the church “to conform to the law” in this situation.
Gimenez hopes to use any economic compensation for charitable purposes, he said.
Martinez’s descendants have said they will take legal action against the elderly pensioner for destroying the painter’s fresco, according to the Ottawa Citizen.