(CNN) – Just when you thought the summer of misbehaving tourists was over, someone else on vacation wrecks another priceless artifact.
This time it was the turn of an American tourist who smashed at least two ancient Roman statues to pieces in the Vatican on Wednesday.
The episode took place at the Chiaramonte Museum, part of the Vatican Museums, around lunchtime. The space contains around 1,000 works of ancient statues, and describes itself as “one of the best collections of Roman portraits” in the world.
Two of these paintings now face an uncertain future after a tourist knocks one down in a rage, then knocks another off as he flees the scene.
And as he ran, with the stick in his pursuit, he knocked down another.
The two artworks were taken to the in-house workshop to be evaluated. A source told Il Messaggero that while they are around 2,000 years old, they are believed to be minor artworks, not famous works.
The director of the Vatican Museums press office, Matteo Alessandrini, told CNN that the American man, aged about 50, was in the “Galleria Chiaramonte” corridor, which includes about 100 busts and statues.
“The busts were glued to the racks with a screw, but if you tightened them too hard they would explode,” he said. “He got down one, then the other, and the guards immediately came and arrested him and sent him to the Vatican police who brought him for questioning. At about 5:30 pm he was handed over to the Italian authorities.
“The two statues were damaged but not particularly badly. One lost part of its nose and ear, and the other’s head fell off the base.”
He said that restoration work had already begun, and that “it will soon be restored and returned to the museum.”
Correction: An earlier version of the story misattributed a quote to a Vatican Museums spokesperson.
Delia Gallagher contributed to this report
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