MADRID: Fame has come late to Cecilia Gimenez, an 80-year-old Spanish painter whose disastrous attempt at restoring a 19th-century Ecce Homo on the walls of her local church spread her name around the globe over the northern summer.
The botched restoration of the painting by Elias Garcia Martinez earned her a reputation as a bold, if brutal, restorer of other people's works – though it was also dubbed "the worst restoration in history".
Now Gimenez has appeared as an artist in her own right, with one of her pictures currently for sale on eBay. Bidding for the scene of some rural buildings near her native town of Borja started vigorously, with nine bids over the first four hours pushing the price up from a starting €300 ($370) to more than €400.
The money will not go to Gimenez herself but to the Roman Catholic charity Caritas. The picture has been put up for sale by the charity's branch in nearby Zaragoza after the church-owned Cope radio station persuaded her to donate the painting as part of its Christmas charity fundraising drive.
Gimenez, having at first hidden from journalists, is now beginning to exploit her popularity. The Neox television channel has announced that she is to appear on one of their new year celebration shows this month.
The Santuario de Misericordia church that houses the Ecce Homo has also cashed in on the painting's new popularity and has started charging visitors – raising €2000 in the first week.
Some fortune-seeking Spaniards who have bought tickets for the country's famous Christmas lottery El Gordo (The Fat One), hope Gimenez's magic will rub off on them. They have already snapped up all tickets bearing the numbers that match the date on which the Ecce Homo restoration was revealed to the world in August: 21812.
Guardian News & Media