The Biggest Art Restoration Fails

The Ecce Homo of the Santuario de Misericordia’s church in Borja © Centro de Estudios Borjanos,DR

The failure of artistic restoration leaves no one indifferent. We want to dedicate this article to the 4 biggest failures of artistic restorations of the last decades!

The Ecce Homo in Borja

This is perhaps the most unsuccessful artistic restoration. This is a restoration of a fresco depicting Christ from the church of Santuario de Misericordia in Borja, near Zaragoza, Spain. This painting was painted by Elias Garcia Martinez at the end of the 19th century. The artwork needed restoration in the 2010s.

In 2012, Cecilia Jimenez, an 80-year-old amateur artist, decided to take care of it. But as a result of her work, the face of Jesus eventually became like the face of a small prudent bear. And if, as a result of the bad painting restoration, Ecce Homo thus lost its traditional iconographic value, then the numerous debates over this restoration made it famous. To the surprise of the townspeople, the cathedral now attracts tourists from all over the world!

The Buddha of Anyue

Buddhist statue in Sichuan, China

This Buddhist statue was inherited from the Song Dynasty. It was built between 960 and 1279 in the Sichuan province of southwestern China. In 1995, several local residents took the initiative to restore the sacred sculpture. Due to little knowledge of conservation and restoration techniques, the statue did not remain unscathed.

The work on this masterpiece was another example of art restoration failure. The bright colors gave the Buddha a completely different look. It became more like a giant Lego than a Buddha.

The Virgin and Child of Ontario

The Virgin and Child of Ontario, Church of Sainte-Anne-des-Pins, © AP-FOTOLINK, © Marina v Stackelberg

The record for the biggest art restoration failure belongs to this sculpture of the Virgin and Child. This story begins at Sainte Anne des Pins in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

After a horrific act of vandalism, the head of Jesus was stolen from the statue. The priest used the services of a local artist named Heather Wise, in order not to pay a professional restorer. The results exceeded all expectations. So this new version, half Jesus and half Lisa from The Simpsons, was born! But fortunately, the sculpture was later properly restored.

The Fortress of Matrera

The Matrera Fortress in Cadiz, Spain, restored in 2013

The Matrera fortress was built in the 9th century and is located in Cadiz, Spain. In 2013, a massive flood caused the magnificent tower to collapse. The restoration work was entrusted to the architect Carlos Quevedo Rojas, who decided to strengthen the building.

The restorer used concrete as the main material. Thus, the master wanted to highlight the original parts and distinguish them from the repaired ones. But this approach turned out to be a big art restoration failure.

Although on the one hand, the architectural firm Architizer gave him an award. But on the other hand, the local population was outraged. If everyone has their own personal opinion, one thing is for sure: Quevedo Rojas has gone beyond the acceptable.

While he had to do the work of a restorer, he positioned himself as an artist and architect. And it’s up to you to decide what it is: art restoration failure or a newly invented building?


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