Botched restoration turns 16th-century Spanish statue into Nic Cage

A Spanish statue of St. George undergoes a disastrous restoration, and now it looks like Nic Cage or Woody from Toy Story.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

A 16th-century wooden figure of St. George at St. Michael's Church in Estella, Spain, was in need of renovation recently. But the restoration left St. George looking more like Boy George. Or maybe like Woody from Toy Story, French comic character Tintin, or a super-creepy Nicolas Cage, according to social media reactions.

"We have experts examining the statue now to see whether the damage can be undone," Koldo Leoz, the mayor of Estella, told the New York Times. "It's possible the detail of the armor and original colors have been lost forever."

Leoz said he doesn't think the restorer had malicious intent, but that "they obviously have not acted responsibly with the treasure they had in their possession." Leoz told the Times the work was done by a workshop with expertise in arts and crafts for children and basic furniture repairs, not professional restoration. The company did not answer phone calls and their Facebook page has been taken down. 

If this all sounds familiar, you're likely thinking back to 2012, when a woman named Cecilia Gimenez took it upon herself to repaint a fresco of Christ called "Ecce Homo" ("Behold the Man") in Borja, Spain. The resulting before-and-after photos went viral, made the town a tourist attraction, and created a meme dubbed Potato Jesus.

ArtUs Restoration Heritage, a restoration company in the same region of Spain as the church, has posted numerous photos and comments about the botched restoration on its Facebook page.

"I feel anger as a restorer, a lot of anger," wrote Abel Mondéjar Sánchez in Spanish on the page. "It's costing me a lot to make a name for myself, to earn my living ... Then you see this news and (it doesn't help)."