The Spanish owner of a painting by famed artist Bartolome Esteban Murillo said he paid more than $1,300 to have it restored and the process made a mess of the Virgin Mary’s face.
The Valencia owner of The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables by baroque artist Bartolome Esteban Murillo said he paid $1,356.69 to have a furniture restorer clean the painting, but the attempt destroyed the face of the Virgin Mary.
The owner said the restorer made two attempts to restore the face, and the results left the painting with a cartoon-like visage.
The botched restoration drew comparisons to the Ecce Homo painting, which was redubbed “Monkey Christ” after an 81-year-old church member attempted an amateur restoration in 2012.
Fernando Carrera, a professor at the Galician School for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage and a former president of Spain’s Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators, said the latest incident highlights the need for regulation in the business of restoration.
“I don’t think this guy — or these people — should be referred to as restorers,” Carrera told the Guardian. “Let’s be honest: they’re bodgers who botch things up. They destroy things.”
Carrera said current laws in Spain allow people to sell their services as art restoration experts even if they lack the necessary skills.
“Can you imagine just anyone being allowed to operate on other people? Or someone being allowed to sell medicine without a pharmacist’s license? Or someone who’s not an architect being allowed to put up a building?” he said.