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A combination photo shows an undated handout photograph of the 20th-century "Ecce Homo" style fresco of Jesus Christ before restoration (left) and an undated handout photograph after restoration (right). (Reuters/Staff/HO-Centro de Estudios Borjanos/Handout)
A Spanish woman who made headlines worldwide for her botched attempt to restore a 20th-century painting of Jesus Christ says she has hired lawyers and wants royalties from the fees church owners are charging visitors, according to the daily Spanish-language newspaper El Correo.
The local artist, 80-year-old Cecilia Gimenez, initially defended her volunteer work saying she was restoring the decaying "Ecce Homo" ("Behold the Man") portrait because no one else would. The before and after pictures went viral across the globe and tourists began arriving in droves -- but very few were leaving donations according to Ars Technica. The sanctuary's owners, the Santi Spiritus Hospital Foundation, reportedly made $2,600 in four days from visitors wanting to see "Ecce Mono," or "Behold the Monkey" as it's now called, Ars Technica reported.
The church has hired lawyers of its own to protect its revenue, Ars Technica said, "Luckily, though, Gimenez is not charging the millions of Internet users who have shared and spoofed her painting all over the world with copyright abuse."
The story blew up on social networks and put the northern Spanish town of Borja and its population of about 30,000 at the center of an international joke. Gimenez said she suffered from anxiety attacks, according to El Correo, and sought privacy. With upcoming litigation though, she "apparently recovered from the anxiety she initially experienced and is now looking to get paid," as Gawker said.
Town officials have planned to undo Gimenez's work, but almost 18,000 people have signed an online petition to preserve the post-restoration painting, according to Agence France-Presse.