Disfigured Spanish fresco Ecce Homo is a hit for artist Cecilia Gimenez and town of Borja

11:30 AM, Aug 13, 2013   |    comments
This combination of two undated handout photos made available by the Centro de estudios Borjanos shows the 20th century Ecce Homo-style fresco of Christ before, left, and after an elderly amateur artist Cecilia Gimenez took it upon herself to restore it in the church of the northern Spanish agricultural town of Borja
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +
  • FILED UNDER

MADRID (AP) - A year ago, a botched restoration of a fresco of Christ by a Spanish retiree drew guffaws. Now, 81-year-old artist Cecilia Gimenez is having the last laugh.

Since gaining worldwide attention, the disfigured fresco has drawn more than 40,000 visitors and raised more than $66,000 for a local charity in the town of Borja.

The art has also prompted the town to put the likeness on merchandise. And Gimenez has even had her own art exhibit, with two dozen of her other works showing through Aug.?24 in the town of 5,000.

Gimenez and a local council are set to sign a deal next week that splits profits from merchandise featuring the image, with the artist getting 49?percent, said councilor Juan Maria Ojeda.

The turnaround is apparently quite the relief for Gimenez, a retiree who was overwhelmed by the attention a year ago.

"Now it seems like everyone's happy," local paper Heraldo de Aragon quoted the once-media-shy Gimenez as saying in Sunday's edition. "I'm grateful that things have quieted down."

The fresco originally depicted Christ wearing a crown of thorns in a style known as "Ecce Homo" ("Behold the Man"). The church painting was for decades a little-known piece of religious art by a minor Spanish artist. It had remained in peaceful obscurity in the Misericordia sanctuary since it was painted in 1930.

That was until Gimenez, a longtime devotee of the work, decided that it needed some attention because damp church air. was causing it to flake. Her attempt didn't go so well, and some dubbed Gimenez's retouching of it "Ecce Mono" ("Behold the Monkey").

But the retouched version grew popular. The image started appearing - without authorization - on T-shirts and cellphone covers, coffee mugs and wine labels. People arrived in Borja asking to see the painting.

The council started charging an entrance fee of $1.30 and giving the money to the Sancti Spiritus charitable foundation, which used the windfall to help pay bills at a care home for elderly people. The council also got lawyers to establish copyright and draw up a merchandising agreement, which will see the image put on plates, postcards and cigarette lighters, among other items.

"It's a timely agreement," Ojeda, the councilor, said by phone from Borja. "The money is going to good causes."

Officials say it's not possible to restore the painting's original look.

You may also like...

Prostitute Mug Shots: Arrests in nationwide sex trafficking sting

Bra Shaking: Police investigated for making woman shake her bra

4 H8TERZ: Florida's rejected license plates

Standing Her Ground? Woman gets 20 years for firing warning shots

Hot robber: Pretty female robber wrestles giant clerk, wins

Message in a Bottle: Beachcomber finds man's ashes in bottle

Candy Caper: Men steal $430 in candy from Walmart

Animal Cruelty: Man accused of killing, cooking family dog

Hooters Hotties: Beautiful women compete in 2013 Hooters swimsuit competition

My bad, Judge: Woman apologizes after flipping off judge

Teen Lesbian Support: Online support grows 18-year-old girl who had same-sex relationship with 15-year-old

Prostitute Roundup: 92 arrested in online sex sting

Yellow light bust: Florida shortens yellow lights to cause more red light tickets

Hottie Internet Convict: Woman behind mug shot meme sets the record straight

Homebrew Soda: Man claims to find Coca-Cola recipe, sells it on eBay

Waterspouts: Video, images show waterspouts coming ashore

Motorcycles and bikinis: Bikini bike wash!

Faces of Meth: Before and After pictures

When neigh means neigh: Video shows man brutalizing, having sex with horse

Sex blog: Tampa area school CFO busted over her dirty sex porn blog *warning, GRAPHIC*

Nasty Nasty Dining: 10 of the nastiest restaurants in Tampa Bay in 2012

APP-tastic: Download the 10 News app for your iPad

Bikinis, mud, trucks: The Redneck Yacht Club

Outrageous mug shot galleries...

Strange: Some of the most unusual mug shots we've seen

Notorious Women: Bad girls behind bars

Teachers: Teacher arrest mugshots

Prostitutes: Prostitute mug shots

Porn arrests: Child porn arrest mug shots

Local Mugs: Hillsborough County Mug shots

More unusual mug shots and galleries: 10 News slideshows and galleries

Most Watched Videos