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Spain's Infamous 'Art Restorer' Hits EBay

Cecilia Gí­menez's handiwork: the Ecce Homo ("Behold the Man") fresco of Christ, left, and the "restored" version, dubbed Ecce Mono ("Behold the Monkey") at right. Now, the artist is trying her hand at selling her own art work.

Cecilia Gímenez strikes again.

She's the 80-something Spanish woman who grabbed headlines last summer for what's purported to be the worst art restoration in history. The well-meaning retiree volunteered to touch up a 19th-century Ecce Homo — a painting of Jesus Christ — at her local church in the village of Borja, near Zaragoza in northeast Spain. But the result prompted horror from arts experts, and laughter from just about everyone else.

In Spain, the Ecce Homo — Latin for "Behold the Man" — has now been dubbed Ecce Mono — "Behold the Monkey."

Undeterred, Gímenez is at it again. This time, she's selling an original oil painting on eBay. The rustic cobblestone street scene entitled "The Bodegas of Borja" has fetched bids of more than $800 as of this writing — double the starting bid. The auction closes next week, on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

But Gímenez won't get the money. Instead, she's donated the painting to the Roman Catholic charity Caritas, to sell off as part of a Christmas fundraising drive by a church-affiliated radio station.

The elderly artist has already tried to cash in on her work, however: She's waging a legal battle against her church, for a share of the cash it's raised by charging admission to see her "restoration." Thousands of curious gawkers have made pilgrimage to the church — and its infamous fresco — since August.

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Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.
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