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Spanish Statue Restoration Botched…Again

They should have called Madrid-based artist Okuda. Conservation experts in Spain are calling for stricter regulations within the historical restoration industry after yet another work has been damaged beyond repair by an amateur “restoration artist.”

Adorning the facade of a bank in the northwestern city of Palencia, the statue, first unveiled in 1923, once depicted a smiling woman carved among a pastoral scene of livestock. But, following a disastrous restoration attempt, its face has been crudely reduced to “a cartoon head,” writes local painter Antonio Guzmán Capel, who first brought the story to the public’s attention in a Facebook post.

The altered work has been described as a “potato” and has drawn comparisons to Donald Trump. “Seeing as he has to leave the White House, he’s moved in here,” commented Victorio Macho Rogado in response to Capel’s post.

The potato head of Palencia now joins a pantheon of other botched jobs in Spain, the most infamous of which still remains the 2012 “Monkey Christ” restoration of Elías García Martínez’s Ecce Homo fresco in the town of Borja. More recent incidents include a failed attempt in Valencia earlier this year to treat a painting of the Virgin Mary—which is a copy of a 17th-century work by the Spanish Baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

Responding to the Palencia restoration, Spain’s Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators (ACRE) wrote on Twitter that the job was “NOT a professional restoration.”

Many conservation professionals have once again taken to social media to question why Spain’s heritage is continually allowed to be treated by those with apparently no formal training.

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