- (Photo:Staff/HO-Centro de Estudios Borjanos/Handout)
A woman who attempted to "restore" a valuable fresco of Jesus Christ in Spain by painting over it is demanding compensation for her efforts, as her new version of the painting has brought thousands more visitors to the church where the fresco resides.
Cecilia Gimenez, who is in her 80s, walked into the Santuario de Misericordia church in the northeastern city of Borja, Spain, in July and began painting over the famed "Ecce Homo," a century-old mural by painter Elías García Martínez that was deteriorating due to water damage.
Gimenez claimed to have been attempting to restore the painting, although, as BBC News puts it, "the once-dignified portrait now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic."
After Gimenez's attempted restoration, however, the painting garnered more tourist attention, so much so that the Santuario de Misericordia, the church/museum where the artwork is held, began charging an additional fee just to view the "new" creation.
Spanish newspapers are reporting that the airlines RyanAir is now offering a discount package on flights to Borja, suggesting that those purchasing the package visit the newly restored, and now famous, fresco.
Gimenez has now hired an attorney, and is demanding that royalties be paid to her for the business she has brought to the church.
"She just wants (the church) to conform with the law," Enrigue Trebolle, Gimenez's lawyer, told BBC News.
"If this implies an economic compensation, she wants it to be for charitable purposes," Trebolle added.
Although many argue that Gimenez has ruined the painting, there is no doubt that the new restoration has gained a large amount of attention on the Internet, with several savvy bloggers making a meme out of the botched fresco.
Others have mused at the hilarity of the new rendition, as it looks nothing like the original.
"It's like 'The Scream' mated with a spider monkey," commented one viewer on the image in a Reddit post.
"It's Ewok Jesus!" commented another.
Gimenez continues to argue that she had the best intentions in attempting to restore the fresco of Jesus, telling several newspapers that she had received permission from the church's priest to do the restoration.