American tourist smashes priceless Vatican sculptures after his demand to see Pope was denied

American tourist smashes priceless Vatican sculptures after his demand to see Pope was denied
The incident took place at the Museo Chiaramonti, part of the Vatican Museums which holds around 1,000 works of ancient statuary (Museo Chiaramonti Vatican and Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY: A tourist was arrested after he broke two ancient Roman sculptures at Museo Chiaramonti on Wednesday, October 5. The man was reportedly angry after he was told that he cannot meet Pope Francis. He was charged with aggravated property damage, however, was later released by Italian authorities, reports Daily Beast.

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Director of the Press Office for Vatican Museums Matteo Alessandrini told CNN that the tourist, assumed to be around 50, was in the Galleria Chiaramonte corridor, which has around 100 busts and statues. He said while narrating the destruction, "The busts were affixed to shelves with a nail but if you pull them down with force they will come off. He pulled down one and then the other and the guards came immediately and stopped him and consigned him to the Vatican police who brought him in for questioning. Around 5.30 pm he was handed over to the Italian authorities. The 2 busts have been damaged but not particularly bad. One lost part of a nose and an ear, and the head of the other came off the pedestal." And added further that the restoration work has started, and "they will soon be restored and back at the Museum."

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However, an Italian media report states that it would cost €15,000 ($14,700 approx) and take between 300 and 350 hours of work to restore the sculptures which are reportedly about 2,000 years old, as per Evening Standard. Mountain Butorac, who leads pilgrimages to the Vatican and is a frequent visitor of the Museo Chiaramonti, said, "One of the beautiful things is that it allows the visitors to get literally face to face with these ancient sculptures." "My fear is that with behavior like this, barriers could be put in place," he further said, as quoted by CNN.

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Not the first time...

Rome and the Vatican have suffered numerous acts of vandalism. One of them includes an American couple who threw their scooters at the Spanish Steps, causing more than $26K worth of damage in June of this year. Prior to this, a 37-year-old engineer from Saudi Arabia drove a rental Maserati SUV down the Spanish Steps, destroying the monument’s 16th and 29th steps, as per NY Post. While in 2020, a tourist was caught carving initials into Colosseum. 

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