Woman who botched Jesus Christ fresco in Spain demands royalties

Ecce Homo
From left - The original Ecce Homo, the decayed work and Cecilia Gimenez's restoration. Photo: Centro de Estudios Borjanos

The elderly woman who ruined a Jesus Christ fresco in Spain is demanding royalties from her botched work after it became a tourist attraction.

Cecilia Gimenez, who is in her 80s, shot to worldwide attention when her restoration of 19th century Ecce Homo - Behold the Man - resembled a monkey.

Thousands of sightseers flocked to the Santuario de Misericordia - Sanctuary of Mercy - church in Borja to see Mrs Gimenez's work, with airline Ryanair even offering deals to nearby Zaragoza airport encouraging people to see the fresco.

Ecce Homo - Behold the Man Fresco jesus Christ
How Ecce Homo - Behold the Man - is meant to look. Credit: Centro de Estudios Borjanos

Mrs Gimenez said any "economic compensation" she may receive would go to charities, with her lawyers saying:

(She) regrets and deplores that commercial brands are financially exploiting a situation that began in total good faith, and which should be restricted to the human level beyond business or commercial interests.

The lawyer added that Mrs Gimenez favoured muscular atrophy charities because her son suffered from the condition.

The painting took pride of place at the church and Mrs Gimenez decided to 'restore' the painting as she was upset the image had been damaged by years of moisture decay.

Ecce Homo - Behold the Man Fresco jesus Christ
How Ecce Homo - Behold the Man - looked after the restoration. Credit: Centro de Estudios Borjanos

Her artistic endeavour resulted in the religious painting being changed almost beyond recognition, with the fresco being nicknamed Ecce Mono - Behold the Monkey.

The botched job was discovered by the artist's granddaughter, who happened to be visiting the church to make a donation to restore the painting.

Local culture councillor Juan Maria de Ojeda said the restoration work was done "with good intentions" but without permission.

Cecilia Gimenez fresco jesus Christ
Cecilia Gimenez said she had the permission of the priest to restore the work. Credit: EBU

Mrs Gimenez insisted she had the permission of the priest, and her artistic endeavours were to save her church time and money.

We have always repaired everything here ourselves. [...] The priest knew about about it, he did, How could I do something like that without permission? [...] I did not do it secretly, everyone who entered the church could see me.

– Cecilia Gimenez

The image was painted by local artist Elias Garcia Martinez more than a century ago.