Cecilia Gimenez’s creative restoration of an 120-year-old ecce homo fresco by Elias Garcia Martinez in Spain may have become an international icon for its frizzy mane of hair and blurred face (even inspiring a Halloween costume), but it could all vanish in a matter of minutes.
Conservator Maria Gomez, an art history professor who will restore the piece, says it could be put back to normal in just seven minutes, she told the New York Daily News. Gomez plans to use solvents to remove the added paint, a relatively simple process because “Cecilia’s repaint is still fresh and very diluted,” she explained.
So that’s all good, right? The fresco can be fixed immediately. Except! Now the artist’s family, who obviously want the piece cleaned, is fighting the town of Zaragoza to carry out the restoration.
After charging admission to see the Beast Jesus, the church that is its home earned $2600 in just four days. The “fixed” fresco has become a global meme, and with that status has come major profitability. The town of 5,000 doesn’t want to give it up. Gimenez has even explored copyrighting her image to get royalties on its use.
Someone should inform them that meme status has a way of leaving quickly. Why not take advantage of it while the money lasts, though? Get a conservator to judge just how long Gimenez’s paint could be left on, then remove it once the visitors slow. Everyone wins!
An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the church earned $26,000. We regret the mistake.