14/08/2013 07:03 BST | Updated 14/08/2013 09:55 BST

'Monkey Christ' Fresco Turns Into Money-Spinner: Ecce Homo Botch Job Boosts Spanish Town

In an act of near-divine intervention, the infamous Spanish fresco that hit headlines after its 'restoration' was botched by a well-meaning elderly parishioner has had a dramatic change in fortune.

Ecce Homo, which earned the nickname 'Monkey Christ' when it was updated by Cecilia Gimenez, has now remarkably drawn 40,000 visitors, raising €50,000 (£43,000) for charity.

The 81-year-old originally caused an unholy furore when officials in Borja, north-east Spain, confirmed the painting’s original look can never be restored.

The disfigured fresco has now drawn more than 40,000 visitors

But now, the local council and Gimenez are set to sign a money-boosting merchandising deal on the back of the much-ridiculed version of the painting.

Gimenez's handiwork has become so popular that the town of 5,000 is hoping to capitalise on products featuring the image – with the artist set to receive 49% of profits and the council the rest, according to councillor Juan Maria Ojeda, who listed the tourism and income figures.

SEE ALSO: The best 'Monkey Christ' Spoofs

The council has now instructed lawyers to establish copyright and draw up a merchandising agreement which will see the novelty image put on items including plates, postcards and cigarette lighters.

Earlier this week, Gimenez showcased her talents at her very own art exhibition in Borja and described her relief after bringing the little-known piece of religious art into the limelight.

"I am happy because they are being very nice to me (the neighbours). People are being very nice. There are people who supported me a lot and I am very happy because of that," she said.