Cecilia Giménez was a devout churchgoer in the town of Borja. The 81-year-old Spaniard was also an art lover. After seeing that the 120-year-old painting on a local church’s wall was in poor shape, she picked up a brush and got to work. She began trying to restore the painting of Jesus Christ. She liberally applied paint in an attempt to restore Christ’s face. The results were terrible.
Before and after images of the painting went viral on the internet. The painting of Jesus was now nicknamed Monkey Christ or Potato Jesus. She had made the painting of Christ’s face a laughing stock.
At first, people called it vandalism. When they found out Cecilia was the perpetrator, they were forgiving and accepted that her intentions were good.
Even more surprising, the botched restoration became a tourist magnet. Thousands now come to Borja to see Potato Jesus. They stand in line to view it and buy reproductions of it on t-shirts, mugs, and keychains. The tourism it has generated has boosted the small town’s economy.
In the end, people understood that Cecilia’s heart was in the right place. She didn’t intend to ruin the painting.
In 2018, Banksy made history for the opposite reason. He intentionally destroyed his million-dollar painting, just moments after he sold it.
Banksy, a British graffiti artist and political activist, is well known by name, but his identity remains a secret. To some, he’s a vandal. To others, he is a genius street artist. His artwork appears anonymously on public surfaces in cities worldwide.
In 2018, auction house Sotheby’s put a Banksy print up for sale. Named ‘Girl with Balloon,’ the piece had a $1.4 million price tag.
Seconds after it was sold, an electric shredder installed in the frame cut the artwork to ribbons. The auction crowd’s jaws dropped to the floor.
Banksy later confessed he secretly built the shredder into the frame of the painting years ago in case it ever went up for auction.
The art world was dumbfounded. Why would an artist destroy their own work? Banksy quoted Picasso, “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
Art critics said the conceptual moment transcended the work of art itself. Some say Banksy’s shredded painting stunt was his way of criticizing the commercial art world.
The buyer certainly wasn’t disappointed at paying over a million dollars for the shredded artwork. She said, “I now own a part of art history.” Ironically, the destroyed painting is now estimated to be worth double the original sale price.