Top 10 Most Infamous Botched Art Restoration Failures

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Restoring of delicate art materials can only be performed by a person who has several years of experience and expertise in the respected field. These arts and painting are work of some great legends. Such beautiful art keep these artists alive in the hearts of people even now. Such artifacts are sold in auctions for millions and billions all over the world. Museums and Churches all around the world are full of these precious artifacts.

But things get old and to restore these artifacts are called the greatest artists we have right now. Most of the times the restoration process goes perfectly right but sometimes some amateur artists have destroyed the greatest peace of artifacts ever existed.

Some of them were so terrible that they were heavily criticized and made fun on the social media platform. You might have heard the of the worst botched art restoration failure of the painting of the Jesus Christ which was called as a Monkey Christ on social media. Many jokes were made on every social media platform for this botched art restoration.

There are numerous statues, paintings, artifacts which have been destroyed and restored by humans but here are the top 10 most infamous botched art restoration failures which shook the world.   

Elias Garcia Martinez, Ecce Homo (fresco circa 1930) Sanctuary of Mercy Church, Borja, Spain

Ecce Homo botched art restoration
Photo Credit: The New York Times

During the summer of 2012, an amateur and 81 year old woman named Cecilia Gimenez noticed that almost a century old painting of Christ by Elias Garcia Martinez was under threat because of the leak. She volunteered for the restoration of this painting but things does not turned out as she would have affected. Actually it was a disaster and the images of the painting got viral on the internet as Monkey Jesus and Potato Jesus.

This incident was actually good for the Church because of this incident the Church became worldwide famous. Now the Church receives 16,000 visitors a year which is more than four times which it had before.

According to the report by The Guardian, As soon as people knew that it was Cecilia who had done it, everything changed,” says the mayor, Eduardo Arilla. “And this has become a social phenomenon and a pop art icon.”

The Mask of Tutankhamun (ca. 1323 BC) Egyptian Museum, Cairo

The Mask of Tutankhamun restoration failure
Photo Credit: BBC UK

A 3,300 year old mask of Tutankhamun discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922 is one of the most renowned archaeological finds in history.

According to the reports by ArtNet News, during the cleaning of this artifact something went wrong and the beard from the chin of this face mask either sapped off or removed because it was loose.

As per the rules this information was to be reported to the Ministry of Antiquities but the museum worker decided to join the beard with household epoxy glue and was returned to the viewing location with dim lights so that no one could notice the poorly executed repairs. But the glue was easily visible and their conspiracy was caught at once.

Roman Mosaic (ca. 2nd -6th Century) Hatay Archaeological Museum, Turkey

Roman Mosaic botched art restoration failure
Photo Credit: ArtWatch UK

Hurriyet Daily News in their published article stated that at least ten precious and ancient mosaics of the world’s second largest mosaic museum was destroyed during restoration.

The issue came to attention when a local craftsman Mehmet Daskapan brought this issue in picture to the local newspaper in Antakya, a district of Hatay.

Daşkapan in a reports said, “Valuable pieces from the Roman period have been ruined. They have become caricatures of their former selves. Some are in an especially poor condition and have lost their originality and value.”

He continued, “Among the damaged mosaics are world-famous panels of mosaic depicting the sacrifice of Isaac and a mosaic of Narcissus.”

As shown in the pictures some stones are missing and others have been displaced from their original position.

Qing Dynasty Buddhist frescoes (ca. 907–1125) Chaoyang, China

Qing Dynasty Buddhist frescoes restoration
Photo Credit: BBC

Some of the ancient Buddhist frescos painting of China’s Yunjie Temple needed restoration work. Unfortunately, the job was estimated to be $100,000 but it turned to be a multicolor disaster.

Wang Jinyu, an expert on fresco restoration told the Telegraph that” the destruction of cultural relics since the original relics no longer exists.” Because of this irresponsible act many government officials were also fired.

Castle of Matrera (ca. 9th century) Villamartin, Spain

Castle of Matrera restoration failure
Photo Credit: The Guardian

Here is another not so perfect restoration done by the architecture firm Carlos Quevado Rojas in restoring the Castle of Matrera in Villamartin, Spain. The structure was collapsing so the project to restore this building was given to this company.

But there was the catch; according to the Historic Heritage Law there is ban on mimetic reconstructions, so the company has to use the modern materials for construction which are very different from the material used to build the fort.

The outcome was as expected a mixture of both old and new material was easily seen by the people visiting. This bizarre appearance got viral on the internet which on the contrary attracted tourists to visit the castle.

Statue of Saint George (ca. 16th Century) San Miguel de Estella Church, Spain

saint george art restoration failure
Photo Credit: The Local Spain

500 years old carved wood sculpture of Saint George became an image of laughter and anger when an inexperienced Spanish art teacher failed terribly at its restoration.

The statue is a depiction of Saint George riding a horse while fighting a dragon. The priest of the church asked for the restoration of the statue and order was carried out by the local art teacher. But, when the restoration was finished the statue resembles some Disney cartoon instead of a 500-year-old sculpture.

The Mayor of the municipality told El Espanol, “From a cultural, historical and artistic point of view what happened is a pity. In my opinion, it’s an example of the power that churches have over the fate of cultural heritage that should be in the hands of public administration; because the vast majority of churches, and the artworks within them, have regularly received money from the citizens and we should have control over them so that this kind of thing does not happen.”

Saint Anthony of Padua statue (19th century) Soledad, Colombia

Saint Anthony of Padua statue art restoration
Photo Credit: Daily Mail

Well this is a disaster because the restorer changed the statue male statue to a feminine. In an Columbian church the statue of Saint Anthony of Padua was sent for repairs because of the termite damage. The priest of the church was shocked when the statue returned.  150 years-old statue was given a touch-up with excessive eye shadow, blush and lipstick.

Giovanni Montero who was the former secretary of culture told the local news outlet Semana that “the person who worked on the statue, whom I do not qualify as a restorer, practically deformed the original features of the saint”.

This art restoration work was made fun all over the world on social media platforms.

Santa Bárbara (circa 19th century) Santa Cruz da Barra Chapel, Brazil

santa barbara statue restoration
Photo Credit: O Globe

 Every great historian was shocked to see a disastrous restored appearance of statue of Santa Barbara at Brazil’s Santa Cruz da Barra Chapel. In 2012 a restorer failed to clean and paint the statue of Santa Barbara. The wooden statue skin color was changed to white skin, over the top eyeliner and a garishly colored robe.

It took six months of hard work by experienced conservators to bring back original appearance of the statue. It was reported by Bol Noticias, that they have to remove four layers of paint to bring back the original masterpiece.

One of the frequently visiting visitor told the local news outlet Veja, “They turned Santa Barbara into Barbie!”.

Leonardo da Vinci’s The Virgin and Child with St. Anne (1503) The Louvre, Paris

botched painting & art restoration
Photo Credit: Discovering da Vinci

Restoration of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Virgin and Child With Saint Anne by Louvre in 2012 was also in controversy because of the change in the brightness of the painting after restoration. The situation became more dramatic when two conservation experts questioned the technique used for the art restoration.

Some experts advised to carry out the art restoration but other experts rejected their protests.

Jacques Franck, a consulting expert at the Armand Hammer Center for Leonardo Studies at the University of Urbino explained to Wall Street Journal that “I don’t oppose the removal of the latest layers of varnish, but I’m concerned they may go too far and touch original material, which could be vulnerable to the solvents used in the process. The aesthetics of the image were meant to be blurry and dark”.

Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Baroque painting of the Virgin Mary, Spain

virgin mary art restoration failure
Photo Credit: BBC.com

Recently another painting is left unrecognized by the fail attempt of botched art restoration.

This time it is painting of Virgin Mary which was one of the famous series by the 17th century Spanish artist Bartolome Esteban Murillo was terribly destroyed by local artist.

According to the report by Europa Press, the owner of the painting hired a local furniture restorer to fix up his old painting. When the owner received the painting it was all smudged up and unrecognized. After seeing the painting it looked like some school boy have made this piece of art.

The owner of the painting complained about his work and then the restorer made another attempt to restore the painting but it made things messier.

Well, it was a disaster for the owner because if it was an original piece of work of Murillo then its cost was more than millions.

Geetesh.S

Hi , I am a computer engineering graduate and a professional Digital Marketing Expert.