A botched restoration of a century old painting of Christ, derisively dubbed Beast Jesus, has sparked a tourism boom in the tiny Spanish town in which it resides, leading some to call the disfigured work of art a blessing in disguise.
83-year-old widow and amateur painter Cecilia Giménez attempted in 2012 to restore the painting of Jesus in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy church in Borja, Spain. The fresco, Ecce Homo, depicted Jesus with a crown of thorns, but had fallen into disrepair over the years. Originally painted by Elías Garcia Martínez, a Zaragoza art professor, it had not been properly preserved.
How Beast Jesus Saved a Spanish Town http://t.co/jDiu9Qpqt8 pic.twitter.com/v64Q8E62wv
— Stéphane Massa-Bidal (@retrofuturs) December 16, 2014
Giménez’s brushwork transformed the painting, completely obliterating the face of Jesus.
The restoration went viral, as images of the painting were spread on social media, giving rise to a series of memes and parodies that mocked Giménez’s work.
The memes and parodies of Giménez’s painting provided the town of Borja with free publicity and international recognition. Since the images went viral, 150,000 tourists have traveled to see the Beast Jesus painting, paying 80p (1 euro) to view the work. The result has been a boon to the local economy, driving the opening of new businesses and restaurants as other local museums report higher rates of visitation.
Professional analysis has concluded that the painting cannot be restored to its original form, and as Beast Jesus has essentially become a new piece. Giménez’s painting has since been stamped on the town’s lottery tickets, and local vineyards are battling over the right to use it on their bottles. The painting is even set to feature in a Spanish film that centers around thieves trying to steal Beast Jesus.
Remember the beast Jesus fresco? It totally turned the town into a tourist destination. http://t.co/odysd4UaA1 pic.twitter.com/cfvauOwM7z
— Alie Cline (@aliecline) December 15, 2014