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Botched restoration of Jesus painting now a popular tourist attraction

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Ecce Homo
CESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images

Some called it “Beast Jesus.” Others called it the “Worst. Restoration. Ever.” It spawned a bajillion memes. Now the town of Borja, Spain, home of the much-ridiculed restoration of the “Ecce Homo” fresco, is reaping the rewards of one woman’s earnest attempt at restoring a painting, which resulted into Jesus’ extreme makeover.

The New York Times gave an update on how the much-maligned restoration is giving the small town an economic boost, thanks to gawk-heavy tourists clambering to see the work of restorative art. Tourism is booming in the small town of 5,000, attracting more than 150,000 tourists all over the world, who each pay one euro to see the furry face of Jesus. The painting is depicted on the town’s lottery tickets, and also was the object of desire for a couple of thieves in a Spanish movie.

In that same vein, the artist, 83-year old Cecilia Giménez, is something of a local celebrity, despite the world’s collective initial ridicule of her handiwork. According to the Times, Giménez said she initially “felt devastated,” and said, “They said it was a crazy, old woman who destroyed a portrait that was worth a lot of money.” Nowadays, Giménez is being commissioned to paint her own original work for a nearby winery’s bottle labels. Moreover, the parish priest who initially insisted he did not authorize Giménez’s restoration was exiled and accused of embezzling 168,000 euros from church funds. As Nelson Muntz would say, “Ha-ha!