Earlier this month, an Austrian tourist learned a tough (if obvious) lesson at the Antonio Canova Museum in Possagno, Italy: don’t sit on the sculptures. While posing for a photo with a 200-year-old plaster cast of a famous statue, the tourist leaned on and broke off several of the sculpture’s toes.
The incident took place on July 31st, and the whole thing was captured by a security camera.
In the footage above, you can see the man literally lay down on the 19th century sculpture for a photo. When he gets up, he clearly realizes that something’s gone wrong, attempts to “reattach” the toes, and then walks out of the room without saying a word.
The museum posted about the incident on Facebook the next day and, to his credit, it wasn’t long before the man in question came clean. In a letter delivered to the President of the Canova Foundation a couple of days later, the man admitted to the “irresponsible behavior” and put himself at the museum’s disposal.
“I remain at complete disposal, it was irresponsible behavior on my part, the consequences were unknown to me, so I normally continued the visit to the museum and the entire stay in Italy (I didn’t escape),” wrote the man. “During the visit I sat on the statue, without realizing the damage I evidently caused. I ask you for information on the steps that are necessary on my part in this situation for me very unpleasant and for which, in the first place, I apologize in all ways.”
The museum staff is already working to figure out what will be involved in the proper restoration of the damaged sculpture, but it’s possible the man will have to foot at least part of that bill… pun intended.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a photo op lead to the destruction or damage of a statue. Back in 2014, a student broke the leg off of the Barberini Faun at a School of Fine Art in Milan; two years later, a 24-year-old in Portugal smashed a 126-year-old statue to bits while climbing on it for his own photo.
At least this guy only broke off a few toes…