Tourist breaks toes off statue in Italian museum after taking a photo with it, police say

Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY
·2 mins read
A photo of the broken foot of the plaster statue "Paolina Bonaparte as Venus Victorious."
A photo of the broken foot of the plaster statue "Paolina Bonaparte as Venus Victorious."

An Austrian tourist is accused of breaking multiple toes off of a statue in an Italian museum, according to Italian police.

In a translated press release to USA TODAY Wednesday, the Carabinieri police in Treviso, Italy, confirmed the July 31 incident, saying the tourist was responsible for damage to three fingers of the right foot of a plaster model of the statue "Paolina Bonaparte as Venus Victorious," made in the early 1800s by Antonio Canova, the namesake of the museum.

The Gipsoteca Antonio Canova museum is located in Possagno, Italy, in the northeastern province of Treviso.

According to the release, the police were contacted after security managers at the museum noticed the damage. Officials then carried out an investigation, which included searching video surveillance footage that captured the event.

In the footage, officials saw that the tourist had been lying next to the artwork having his photograph taken by another person. After getting up, the man appeared to inadvertently break part of the statue's foot. He appeared to realize the damage caused and left, visibly disturbed, disappearing from the view of the camera.

Through museum booking information, police were able to contact the wife of the 50-year-old man they believed was responsible for breaking the statue's toes.

Police say she admitted her husband's involvement and said he panicked and left when he realized the damage he had caused.

Police added that the woman said her husband would explain the incident, apologize and be ready to face the consequences of his actions.

It is unclear whether either will be charged, but police sent a detailed report of the investigation to the judicial authority for assessment.

In a post on the the museum's Facebook page, it says the tourist "turned himself in" by writing a letter to the President of the Canova Foundation President Vittorio Sgarbi. The post also noted that the museum staff is already working on planning the various phases that will lead to the restoration of the work.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Italian statue's toes broken after tourist took photo, police say