A mural by Banksy pays tribute to restorer Cecilia Gimenez.
After making headlines
in more than 160 countries around the globe, the infamous DIY restorer of Ecce Homo
(Behold the Man), Cecilia Giménez, strikes again. Reports claim the octogenarian who took upon herself to restore a 19th century fresco to a shocking result has hired lawyers and is demanding to get paid for her work.
Since Giménez’s botched restoration has gone viral online, the Fundación Hospital Santi Spiritus, which owns the Santurario de Misericordia church, where the now-infamous ‘potato Jesus’ is housed has seen an extraordinary increase in the numbers of visitors and has started charging access to the temple cashing in more than 2,000 euros ($2,480) in four days. Visitors are required to pay one euro to catch a glimpse of the work. Although the money is for charity, Gimenez’s lawyers are investigating possible copyright infringements and claim their client can pursue payments from the use of her work to sell products.
According to Gimenez’s legal team, profits earned by the restorer would go into charity. Giménez is particularly interested in funding groups that assist people suffering from congenital muscular dystrophy, because her son suffers from the condition.
‘[Giménez] 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,’ said a statement from her representatives.
Borja has become somewhat of a tourist attraction with thousands of tourists descending upon the town to get a closer look of the infamously restored painting. Even airlines such as Ryanair have jumped in to offer deals to encourage people to visit the work, now known as Ecce Mono
(Behold the Monkey).
Mousepads, t-shirts, mobile phone cases, puzzles, dog tags, travel mugs and wine labels are some of the current products featuring Giménez’s image.
The legal battle may prove lengthy and complicated, as it is still unclear whether it is the foundation or one of the 16 grandchildren of the painter Elias García Martínez who owns the original work.
The Sancti Spiritus foundation is also unsure whether they will restore the painting to its original state or keep Giménez restoration. Separating the two works is also an option. They are currently seeking advice from art experts to make a decision.
‘Everyone wants to solve this, but no one knows the solution,’ said foundation president and mayor of Borja Francisco Miguel Arilla.
Meanwhile, Ecce Mono
is being visited by an average of 1000 people per day. According to the church, they were forced to charge admission to hire staff to manage crowds flocking to the sanctuary.
‘I thought this would slow down by now, but we still have a steady flow of people,’ said Arilla.