EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

September 21, 2012

Disfigured Spanish fresco rides global fame

Eds: Restores painter's first name, minor edits; With AP Photos.

MADRID (AP) — The image appears on T-shirts and cellphone covers, coffee mugs and wine labels. And the 80-year-old pensioner who just weeks ago was mortified by the global stir she created with her botched restoration of a fresco of Christ is now looking to get a piece of the action.

The church painting in the town of Borja was for decades a little-known piece of religious art by a minor Spanish artist. Now that Cecilia Gimenez has disfigured it, it has found a new fate as an international icon — used to sell products around the world.

Gimenez's lawyers have begun investigating whether all the notoriety may be turned to profit, albeit with an aim to help charity.

The fresco depicts Christ with a crown of thorns before crucifixion, in a style known as "Ecce Homo" (Behold the Man). It stood in peaceful obscurity in the Misericordia Church sanctuary since it was painted in 1930 — until Gimenez, a longtime devotee of the work, decided it needed to be rescued from flaking caused by the damp church air.

Word of the artistic travesty spread across the world, and the solemn Ecce Homo quickly took on a less dignified identity: "Ecce Mono." Behold the Monkey.

Then something unexpected happened.

The town morphed into a tourism destination for people who want to see the restoration. The crush has been so big that the Sancti Spiritus foundation that owns the church and sanctuary recently started charging admission: one euro per visitor. Meanwhile, Internet entrepreneurs have quickly moved in to cash in on the phenomenon, printing "Ecce Mono" on a seemingly endless range of products to sell online.

Gimenez's lawyers say she has no interest in a cut of what the foundation is charging people to see the fresco. But they are investigating possible copyright infringements of what she created. If she has rights, said lawyer Antonio Val Carreras Rivera, Gimenez could pursue payments from those using the image to sell products, although whatever she earns would go to charity.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
Suing Obama: GOP-led House Gives the Go-ahead Obama: 'Blood of Africa Runs Through My Veins' Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Air Force: Stowaway Triggers Security Review Minnesota Fire Engulfs Home, Two Garages Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Officials Unsure of UCLA Flood Repair Date At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules
Latest World News
Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike Raw: Guinea Rap Concert Stampede Kills 33+ Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Graphic Video: 15 Killed at Gaza UN School Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Floodwaters Ravage Villages in Romania Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Today in History for July 30th Raw: Aftermath, Artillery Shells Hit Donetsk Muslims Celebrate Eid El-Fitr Around the World Gaza Official: at Least 100 Killed Tuesday Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre Raw: Earthquake Rocks Mexico's Gulf Coast
Photos of the Week