American Tourist Snaps Finger Off 600-Year-Old Statue in Florence Museum

Don't pull its finger

  • Share
  • Read Later
MAURIZIO DEGL' INNOCENTI / EPA

A close-up of the damaged statue displayed at Florence's Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence, Italy, August 5, 2013.

Hoping to overcome the stereotype of the obnoxious, ignorant American abroad? An unidentified U.S. tourist who snapped a finger off a 600-year-old statue in an Italian museum hasn’t helped the cause.

(MORE: Fake Transit Cop Spooks Bike Thieves)

No, the tourist wasn’t drunk, being belligerent, in a brawl, dangling from the statue wearing nothing but his skivvies or whatever other wild imagery your brain might conjure: The reportedly 55-year-old Missouri native was simply trying to measure the statue’s pinky finger, holding his own hand up to the statue’s outstretched one. But the museum — like most museums that harbor centuries-old works of art — has a no-touching rule that the tourist allegedly flouted, leading to the tragic act of digital disfigurement.

“In a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is, ‘Do not touch the works’,” said museum head Timothy Verdon, via the NY Daily News, which reports that the tourist has since apologized and has been described as “very disappointed.”

verticalhand

MAURIZIO DEGL’ INNOCENTI / EPA

The statue, dubbed “Annunciazione” and located in Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (“Museum of the Works of the Cathedral”), is of the Virgin Mary, by 15th century Florentine sculptor Giovanni d’Ambrogio. Apparently the pinky finger wasn’t original to the statue, having been made of plaster and added at a later point: The finger didn’t snap off entirely at the time the act occurred, and restorers were able to remove it before it fell to the ground; they’ll now work to reunite the statue with its missing digit.

“It is a fairly simple restoration will be done by the restorers of the Opera del Duomo,” the museum told the Daily News.

MORE: Taco Bell Expanding Test of Waffle Taco

23 comments
TimothyR
TimothyR

Even in America, Americans have to be told "no touching!" by the guards at museums. I'm not sure how this need crept into the public's unconscious mind but people just seem to keep trying to put their hands on everything. 

 In Grand Rapids, MI the ArtPrize event is gong on and I see the guards and volunteers constantly running around reminding people "no touching".

ruthanne
ruthanne

European tour operators can always tell American tourists. They're the fattest ones.

MikeSmith3
MikeSmith3

So basically, it's a priceless work of art with bondo.  Try passing off a muscle car like that.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Louisiana, sorry, I do know how to spell, but its the eyes I can't help at this age.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Until it said Missouri I was sure the person must be from Texas or Louisiina, but Missouri is not all that far. 

ShelterSomerset1
ShelterSomerset1

I hate the left wing and their obnoxious, ignorant peddling of anti-Americanism. 

YesterdaysWine
YesterdaysWine

A Hungarian attacked the Pieta with a hammer in 1972. Regarding the Parthenon (from The Telegraph): In 1687, when the building took a direct hit from a Venetian cannon, most of its interior walls were destroyed, bringing much of the frieze down with them. By the time Lord Elgin became ambassador to Istanbul in 1798, the Parthenon was a ruin. Turkish soldiers used the marbles for target practice, and the locals burned statues to make lime for the mortar to build their houses. The Mona Lisa has been attacked numerous times as have other famous works of art. Tourists regularly climb on The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen and deface it. Here is a wikipedia link citing some famous accidental damage to works of art: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accidental_damage_of_art

m.james61
m.james61

I travel extensively, the only things worse than American tourists are Chinese and French tourists.

ScottSkinner
ScottSkinner

While this is ridiculous, Time is acting as this sort of thing is unheard of. Read Mark Twain's "Innocents Abroad" published in 1869, 144 years ago, and get a little perspective. Stupid tourists have been busting pieces off of ancient works of art for as long as tourism has been a thing. The difference being that the tourists in Twain's book about his trip the the holy land, the "pilgrims" as he called them, broke off pieces of ancient art to keep for themselves, as little trophies to impress their high society friends back home. This guy just didn't think before he acted.

jbchittick
jbchittick

JimTurner --  that was a sly way to get your racist point across. You must be proud.

evdebbs
evdebbs

Thanks for visiting.  No need to hurry back!  How 'bout we visit in your country, next time

JimTurner
JimTurner

It's disgusting the way you are playing up the stupid American angle. What other stereotypes will you write about? "Stupid Black Guy Robs Liquor Store"

cageydog
cageydog

@MikeSmith3 No. Reading the article reveals that the hand was not part of the original work, was added later and was made of plaster, it was already bondo.

John_S
John_S

@ShelterSomerset1 Not anti-Americanism. We'd be a fine country if we could just get rid of everything between the east and west coasts, i.e. the Rust Belt and yokel-land.

PennyLane9
PennyLane9

@ShelterSomerset1 What the heck is that supposed to mean? I'm left wing! The fact that a 55 year old man reached out and touched a 600 year old statue, proves that there was no respect for the country's relicts.  That has nothing to do with left wing.  What an ignorant statement.

PennyLane9
PennyLane9

@ScottSkinner Oh! Well if Mark Twain said it was OK to do 144 years ago  then we should just live it.

MikeMikey
MikeMikey

@PennyLane9 @ShelterSomerset1 No, if you believe the article the statue was 600 years old but the pinky was a hack job. Big deal, the guy is sorry and it's getting fixed. Liberals are hyper critical of America and our culture. If you can't see that then obviously you're drinking the cool aid too.