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August 10, 2020

Tourist Breaks Toes of 200-Year-Old Statue by Sitting on It for a Photo

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An Austrian tourist accidentally broke the toes off of a 200-year-old statue while posing for a photograph, and now he is in hot water with museum officials in Italy.

The incident happened at the Gipsoteca Museum in Possagno on July 31. In a statement, the art gallery explained that the tourist sat on Antonio Canova's statue of Paolina Bonaparte, causing two toes to break off of the sculpture.

Afterward, the tourist immediately moved away without informing anybody, the museum added. Only then did the staffers find out about the damage after an alarm in the room went off.

Interior of Gipsoteca Canoviana in Possagno. | Photo: Getty Images

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Many social media users have expressed their opinion about what happened to the damaged statue. One person said, "Uncivilized people cannot be allowed to damage unique works of art like this."

"In museums around the world, which I was lucky enough to visit, you can't get so close to a work of art," another user said. "Distance is well determined and there are guardians in the rooms where the most important works of art are located."

As reported by CNN, police found the tourist through his personal information, which he left with the museum for contact tracing if a COVID-19 outbreak is tied to the gallery.

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In an interview with the outlet, police explained that the guest was with eight other Austrian tourists and broke away from the group to snap a photo of himself "sprawled over the statue."

An Italian court is now deciding whether to press charges.

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The security camera footage also captured the entire incident. The footage clearly shows the man jumping onto the base of the sculpture to get the selfie when he snapped off piece of the work of art. 

At the point when police reached the tourist, he immediately admitted to breaking the statue and called what he did a "stupid move."

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Meanwhile, Vittorio Sgarbi, an art critic who fills in as president of the Antonio Canova Foundation, took to Facebook to call on the Italian police to not allow the man to "go unpunished and return home." Sgarbi called the tourist's actions "unacceptable."

An Italian court is currently deciding whether to press charges. Meanwhile, Museum Director Moira Mascotto said that officials have discovered the broken pieces of the sculpture and are taking a shot at restoring it.

In a statement, the museum said they reemphasize that "our heritage must be protected." According to the gallery, adopting responsible conduct inside the Museum is not just a civic duty but also an indication of respect for their history and culture.

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