When Chad Stahl visited the On the Edge Body Art Studio in Bowling Green, Ohio, in 2007 to get a portrait tattoo of his beloved late wife, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.
Stahl had hoped to get a portrait of his wife Mindy to mark the first anniversary of her tragic death in a house fire. The idea was to replicate a photograph taken on their wedding day.
But the tattoo turned out to be a disaster.
Instead of a tattoo, Stahl could see and cherish, the tattoo became an embarrassment for the 38-year-old father of three. It was so bad he couldn't wear sleeveless clothes.
The tattoo was inked by artist Dennis Foust, who charged $450 for the portrait tattoo.
"I had seen Foust's portrait work on his website and he even tattooed some of my in-laws with designs in honor of Mindy so I was confident going in," Stahl told Yahoo! Shine, "But when the swelling subsided, it didn't look like Mindy at all - her teeth looked evil."
Tragically, his tattoo was soon on the internet and the "Worst Tattoo Ever" became notorious worldwide.
A few months later, Stahl returned to Foust's tattoo studio in an attempt to fix the tattoo by adding the words "In loving memory of Mindy". However, the damage was already done.
In an interview with Shine, Foust said Stahl's tattoo was his first attempt at a portrait and since then, he has improved his skills.
"I have many regrets about that tattoo and my apologies extend to the man who wore it," Foust wrote on his business's Facebook page.
Recently, a friend of Stahl's suggested he visit Scott Versago at Empire Ink in Akron, Ohio. Versago was aware of the history behind Stahl's disastrous tattoo and offered to fix it for free.
"I got to tackle the official '#1 worst portrait tattoo in the world' today. I'm sure you've all seen it a million times online, as had I. I couldn't believe my eyes when this guy walked in and showed me this project. I think my jaw literally hit the floor," Versago wrote on his Facebook page.
"He went on to tell me the story behind the portrait; He had just married his beautiful wife and not even three months afterwards she was killed in a horrible house fire accident," Versago continued.
"Shortly after he went to a local tattoo studio to memorialise his wife and was left with this abomination. He later returned to that studio for one more session, thinking that perhaps 'he had done something wrong in the healing of the tattoo' and they butchered it even more the second time. Finally, he drove all the way to my studio, Empire Ink, just to meet me and to see what his options were. Touched by his story, I gifted the entire project to him for free. Now he has closure and I have an amazing story to add to my portfolio!" Versago said.
The tattoo has now been transformed into the portrait that Stahl wanted all along.
Meanwhile, Versago's fixing of the "Worst Tattoo Ever" has generated considerable interest across the internet. The photograph of the fixed tattoo, uploaded on Empire Ink's Facebook wall, has already received thousands of likes.
The fixing took only three hours but it put an end to a miserable five years for Stahl.
"I'm going to enter the tattoo in a contest hosted by On the Edge to see if they recognise me," Stahl told Shine.