An American tourist accidentally broke the finger off a 600-year-old statue in Florence, Italy, and may face a large fine—he has already faced considerable criticism.
The 55-year-old Missouri man reportedly gave “high five” to a statue of the Virgin Mary, and compared his hand size against it, in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo during a family vacation in Florence. One of the fingers broke off. The 600-year-old statue by sculptor Giovanni d’Ambrogio was not surrounded by sensors or barriers.
The museum’s director, Timothy Verdon, told the Corriere Fiorentino: “In a globalized world like ours, [the tourist] seems to have forgotten one of the basic rules for visiting museums, and that is that you do not touch the works.”
The man tried to leave without saying anything, reports the Corriere Fiorentino, but was embarrassed and apologized when he was stopped while leaving the museum. He’s gotten a lot of bad press.
The incident recalls that of a young Chinese tourist who endured much criticism and embarrassment when he defaced an artifact in Luxor Egypt. When he was identified as the person who wrote “Ding Jinhao was here,” on the 3000-year-old relief in a temple complex built by Amenhotep III, the 15-year-old was harassed for his mistake through social media.
His father appealed to the public through Chinese media in May, according to the BBC, saying, “This is too much pressure for him to take.”
His parents publicly apologized for the boy’s actions.