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Tourist Snaps Toes Off 200-Year-Old Statue

He posed for photo with Canova sculpture
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2020 1:47 PM CDT

(Newser) – A statue of Napoleon's sister in an Italian museum lost three toes in an unfortunate encounter with an Austrian tourist. Police say the man broke off from his tour group so his wife could take a photo of him "sprawled over" the plaster cast model of Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix, created by sculptor Antonio Canova in 1804, CNN reports. Three of the statue's toes were snapped off in the process. The man left the Museo Antonio Canova in northern Italy without alerting anybody to the damage, but authorities were able to track him down through coronavirus tracing information all visitors were required to submit. Police say the woman they contacted cried and admitted that her husband was the toe-breaker.

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A local court is now considering charges, and Vittorio Sgarbi, president of the Antonio Canova Foundation, says the man should not be allowed to return to his homeland unpunished. "The scarring of a Canova is unacceptable," he says. Authorities say the man has apologized and offered to pay to have the damage fixed, Artnet reports. In a letter that the museum shared on Facebook, the 50-year-old said he was sorry for his "irresponsible behavior" but claimed he had not been aware the statue was damaged. CCTV footage, however, shows him getting up from the statue, turning to look at it, touching it, and walking away. (Read more statue stories.)

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