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Tourist Sits On 200-Year-Old Statue And Breaks Some Of Its Toes Off

When we visit art galleries, it's easy to take for granted that we're able to get pretty up close and personal with some of the most valuable classic works the world has ever seen.

On one hand, it stands to reason that this would be the case because the art would lose a lot of its significance and intrinsic value if nobody was able to see and appreciate it. And the closer we are to it, the more of its fine details we can identify.

But on the other hand, there are a lot of risks that come with operating a gallery this way. After all, there have been cases where art has been the target of both daring thieves and individuals who felt compelled to attack specific pieces for whatever reason.

And as we're about to see, a visitor's carelessness can be just as damaging to a fragile classic as their malice.

At the Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno, Italy, one can find the works of one of the nation's most acclaimed neoclassical sculptors.

Facebook | Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova

As CBS News reported, one of them was titled "Paolina Borghese Bonaparte as Venus Victrix" and Canova sculpted according to an 1804 commission by Prince Camillo Borghese.

Although the marble version the prince would have received sits in a Rome gallery, what we're seeing here is the original plaster cast featured in a collection of plasters known as a "gypsoteca."

These plasters are known to be fragile but this fact apparently eluded one unnamed tourist from Aistersheim, Austria.

Twitter | @DanaNews3LV, Carabinieri Treviso

As we can see here, he had his picture taken while reclining on the statue and imitating Boneparte's position.

In doing so, he would end up damaging the statues' toes.

Security footage then appears to show him examining the toes and pacing around the statue.

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As the museum posted on Facebook, the damage was discovered by a security guard within minutes and after declaring an "emergency situation," staff recovered the broken fragments.

Over the next few weeks, the museum will plan phases for restoring the sculpture's toes.

Facebook | Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova

As they said in their post, "We reiterate that our heritage must be protected: adopting responsible behavior within the Museum while respecting the works and goods preserved in it is not only a civic duty, but a sign of respect for what our history and culture testifies and that must be proudly handed down to future generations."

By August 4, the tourist apparently read about the incident he caused in an Austrian newspaper and felt compelled to apologize for his actions.

Facebook | Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova

As the museum announced on Facebook, he wrote a letter to Vittorio Sgarbi — the president of the foundation overseeing the museum — telling them he is turning himself over to their "complete disposal" for what he identified as irresponsible behavior.

As he put it, "I ask you for information on the steps that are necessary on my part in this very unpleasant situation for me and for which, firstly, I apologize in every way."

In response, Sgarbi said, "I appreciate the civic sense of these citizens and I take note of his words of embarrassment for what happened."

h/t: Facebook | Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova