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Lifestyle

September 21, 2012

Disfigured Spanish fresco rides global fame

(Continued)

She's most interested in funding groups that help people with congenital muscular dystrophy, because she has a son with the disorder.

The Sancti Spiritus foundation is stuck in its own legal bind about what to do with the fresco. Should it restore the painting to its original state? Or leave Gimenez's image on the church wall? Or try, as experts say is possible, to separate the two?

Gimenez herself is thankful for the many messages of support she's received from around the world, her lawyers said in a statement. And 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 statement said.

The nonprofit Sancti Spiritus foundation plans to seek a second opinion from art experts on what to do about the painting, before getting the view of lawyers, said foundation president Francisco Miguel Arilla, who is also the mayor of Borja, population about 5,000.

"Everyone wants to solve this, but no one knows the solution," Arilla said.

While Gimenez could end up with ownership of what she painted on top of the fresco, the foundation isn't sure who owns the original. It's either the foundation or the 16 grandchildren of the painter, Elias Garcia Martinez. And Martinez's heirs live all across Spain, Arilla said. "This seems like it's going to be a long process," he said.

Meanwhile, Borja is trying to cope with its newfound fame. While known for its wine, this is the first time it's ever been a big tourism draw.

The influx of visitors hasn't shown any sign of letting up since news of the fresco rocketed around the world, Arilla said. About 1,000 people paid admission last weekend, and the number of visitors has averaged 100 daily this week. The charge was put in place to cover the cost of additional workers needed at the sanctuary to manage the crowds.

"I thought this would slow down by now, but we still have a steady flow of people," Arilla said.


 



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