As It Happens

Retired B.C. repairman covers home with his own stunning replicas of masterpiece art

Cosimo Geracitano, 71, has spent almost every day of the last decade painstakingly crafting near-identical replicas of masterpiece paintings for his home in Coquitlam, B.C.

'My house looks like a little museum,' says 71-year-old Cosimo Geracitano

Cosimo Geracitano, 71, paints replicas of masterpiece art in his Coquitlam, B.C., home. (cosimogeracitano.com)
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Transcript

Cosimo Geracitano has spent almost every day of the last decade painstakingly crafting near-identical replicas of masterpiece paintings for his home in Coquitlam, B.C.

Every wall in every room of his home is covered with his homages to Italian Renaissance masters, French impressionists, English landscape artists and more. Even his ceiling has a replica of the Creation of Adam from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel.

"I just love art. I love these masterworks. I was always fascinated with art history and the works of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, especially, the three masters of the Renaissance," the retired repairman told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"And obviously I could not afford to buy their paintings, even if they were for sale. I had to create my own."

Geracitano's home is covered in his replicas. (cosimogeracitano.com)

Working steadily for 10 years, he's created 45 complete paintings so far — some so massive they cover entire walls. He's already working on paintings 46 and 47. 

"I try to replicate to the best of my ability to every small detail. And sometimes I take hundreds of hours just in a small painting," he said.

"Right now, there's no more room on my walls, but I still want to paint."

Geracitano first started painting when he was nine years old. One of his early original creations hangs in his childhood home Bivongi, southern Italy, where his father still lives, he said. It is of a ship sailing at sea.

"I was visualizing me leaving the town where we were very poor," he said. "I didn't want to be there. I wanted to run away."

The Card Players by Cezanne (left) and a replica by Geracitano. (Metropolitican Museum of Art, cosimogeracitano.com)

When he grew up, he moved to Canada, where he got married, started a family and opened his own business doing electrical motor and generator repair. Eventually, life got in the way of his favourite hobby and Geracitano didn't paint for almost 20 years.

But after he retired and felt his family was well provided for, he picked up his brushes again. 

"I started the first replica and then one right after the other," he said. "I have always some painting on the go."

His work garnered media attention when his friend sent an email to the National Post about the newspaper's coverage of a missing Da Vinci painting. 

Called Salvator Mundi, the portrait of Jesus Christ is believed to be the most expensive painting the world. A Saudi prince bought it for $450 million, but it disappeared before a scheduled exhibition in Abu Dhabi, the Post reports.

The email to National Post reporter Joseph Bean included a picture of Geracitano's replica and the words: "Do you really want to know where the Salvator Mundi is?"

"I'm really fascinated by the look in the eyes of Salvator Mundi," Geracitano said. "I'm looking at it right now, actually. It looks really magic."

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting in the world (left) beside Geracitano's rendition of it - which is not for sale. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Christie's Auction House, cosimogeracitano.com)

But if the Saudi prince is looking to replace his lost art with the next best thing, he's out of luck.

"I don't think I will sell any of my paintings because I really love them," Geracitano said.

"My house looks like a little museum. I have a little bit of everything and it's such a pleasure to just sit here in my living room and look up at the ceilings and the walls. They're all full of history."

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer (left) beside Geracitano's version. (Mauritshuis/Google Arts & Culture, cosimogeracitano.com)

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Sarah Cooper.

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