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Botched Spanish fresco jumpstarts tourism — the art equivalent of peeking at a car wreck

Ecce Homo - Monkey Christ


The village of Borja came to international attention in 2012 after local parishioner Cecilia Giménez touched up the 19th century image of Jesus. Her botched effort was dubbed Ecce Homo, Monkey Christ, and was so incredibly bad that became an internet sensation. Tourists flocked to the tiny village to see it, creating a local tourist industry overnight.

Recognizing a money-making opportunity, the church slapped on €1 ($1.30), with all the money goes to the renovation of the building.  Where did the money actually go?  Hard to say, but the priest of the church has been arrested for the alleged embezzlement of €210,000 ($285,000). The lawyer for the priest has insisted that the current charges did not relate to money earned though visitors coming to see the Ecce Smudgeface.

COMMENT: Bad art with a good story behind it can be more compelling that good art.  Everyone loves a good fail. We tune into to see funny home videos on TV, we watch them on YouTube. It shouldn’t be a surprise that fails work as tourism. The trick, as any funny home video TV producer will surely tell you, the important part is that it happens naturally.

Crowds flock to Borjas to view Ecce Homo

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