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Botched restoration of Virgin Mary painting in Spain goes viral

Two botched restoration attempts of a Spanish painting of the Virgin Mary have brought back memories of the 2012 debacle over a poorly restored fresco of Christ.
/ Source: TODAY

The elderly Spanish woman who famously botched a restoration attempt of a fresco of Jesus in 2012 may have trained an apprentice.

Eight years later, another restoration of a religious artwork in Spain has produced a messy result, with the mother of Christ bearing the brunt this time.

The visage of the Virgin Mary was badly warped in two restoration attempts made on artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s painting "The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables," according to Europa Press.

The anonymous owner of the painting paid $1,350 for it to be cleaned by a furniture restorer, only to see a beatific image of Mary turned into one that some said looks like the viral "not impressed" face from former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney and another that looks like a small child's drawing.

The mishap has brought back memories of the number done in 2012 on the artwork known as “Ecce Homo,” or "Behold the Man." The bungled restoration earned the name "Monkey Christ" after then-81-year-old Cecilia Gimenez's questionable touch-up of the fresco at her local church in Borja.

Gimenez turned it into a positive by turning it into a tourist attraction that raised thousands of dollars for charity and prompted the local council to sign a deal to put the "Monkey Christ" image on merchandise.

The latest botch job by an unknown restorer has spurred calls for regulation of laws regarding art restorations in Spain.

“We see this kind of thing time and time again and yet it keeps on happening," Fernando Carrera, a professor at the Galician School for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage, told The Guardian.

"Paradoxically, it shows just how important professional restorers are. We need to invest in our heritage, but even before we talk about money, we need to make sure that the people who undertake this kind of work have been trained in it.”

Apparently, there are also plenty more restoration disasters that we are not seeing. Maria Borja of Spain’s Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators told Europa Press it's a fairly regular occurrence.

"We only find out about them when people report them to the press or on social media, but there are numerous situation when works are undertaken by people who aren’t trained," she said.