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Woman Botches a Do-It-Yourself, Art Restoration Project

For nearly a hundred years a beautiful mural of Jesus had held pride of place in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Borja, Spain. The "Ecce Homo" (Behold the Man) style-painting, was completed by Elias Garcia Martinez in the 1930s.

But in August of 2012, an 80-year-old church member named Cecilia Gimenez took it upon herself to touch up the painting. She was right about one thing: the painting needed some work. After decades of moisture buildup, the painting had started to deteriorate, and the colors had started to fade. So Cecilia initiated her do-it-yourself restoration project.

Despite her good intentions, it didn't turn out well. The New York Times said that it was "probably the worst art restoration project of all time." A Spanish blog called it "the restoration that turned into destruction." And a BBC article said, "The delicate brushstrokes by Elias Garcia Martinez have been buried under a haphazard splattering of paint. The once-dignified portrait [of Jesus] now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic."

In later interviews, Ms. Gimenez defended her decision. At some points, she blamed the parish priest, claiming that he had initiated the project. But on other occasions she took responsibility for her attempt to fix the painting. "We've always fixed everything ourselves in this church," she said. "We saw everything was falling down, and we fixed it."

The town council will bring in experts to try to repair her work, but since the painting was originally done in oils directly onto a church wall, they face a nearly impossible task.

It's a good reminder that some projects in life—like restoring your own soul or fixing other people—just aren't good do-it-yourself projects.

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