US tourist arrested after smashing ancient Roman sculptures in response to not seeing Pope at Vatican

It will take 300 hours to repair the two ancient busts and cost €15,000

Johanna Chisholm
Saturday 08 October 2022 07:13 BST
American Tourist Destroys Sculptures In The Vatican

A disgruntled American tourist hoping to see the Pope while visiting the Vatican lashed out in disappointment by smashing ancient Roman sculptures.

On Wednesday a man described as an American tourist – his identity has not been released – demanded to see the head of the Catholic Church, according to Roman newspaper Il Messaggero.

After being informed that this vacation wish could not be granted, the man reportedly took off in a fury and snatched one of the ancient Roman busts that line the wall of the Chiaramonti Museum and dropped it to the floor.

Inside the Chiaramonti Museum, which joins the small Palace of the Belvedere to the Vatican Palaces, there are more than 1,000 pieces of art and the site is considered to house one of the most important collections of Roman portrait busts.

Of those busts, at least two were damaged in the man’s tantrum, according to Director of the Press Office for Vatican Museums Matteo Alessandrini, who confirmed the damages with CNN.

“The two busts have been damaged but not particularly badly. One lost part of a nose and an ear, the head of the other came off the pedestal,” he told the news outlet.

The cost to repair these busts will come at a price tag of an estimated 15,000 euros ($14,800 US) and will take approximately 300 hours to restore, Adnkronos reported.

The man, who was estimated to be in his 50s, was handed over to Italian authorities after Vatican police were able to quickly intercept him from doing more harm, CNN reported.

He is expected to face charges of aggravated damage, USA Today reported.

This incident marks just the latest occasion in the last few months that Roman artefacts and tourist sites have been under attack by tourists.

In July, a Canadian tourist visiting the Italian city carved their name into the side of the Colosseum.

The Spanish Steps in the Italian capital were also the target of not one but two defacements after a Saudi Arabian visitor drove their luxury Maserati down the iconic stairs and later a pair of American tourists shoved electric scooters down the 297-year-old architectural monument, causing $27,000 of damage, Insider reported.

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