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Ancient Roman busts toppled by man in the Vatican museums

Two ancient Roman busts housed at the Vatican museums were toppled by a man on Wednesday, leading to moderate damage to the sculptures. The man was prevented from causing further damage by the staff and was later arrested by the Vatican police. It has been reported that the perpetrator who appears to be in his 50s, “behaved strangely.” The incident took place at the Chiaramonti hall of the Vatican museums, which contains over 1,000 objects. The busts have been sent to the museum’s restoration lab for repair. Pictures of the damaged busts have by posted on social media by visitors who were present at the museum during the incident.

Reuters reports:

VATICAN CITY, Oct 5 (Reuters) – A man toppled two ancient Roman busts in the Vatican Museums on Wednesday, causing moderate damage before being stopped by staff and arrested, a museums source said.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the man was in his 50s and had “behaved strangely.”

He knocked two busts off their pedestals in the museums’ Chiaramonti hall, which houses more than 1,000 pieces and is one of the most important collections of Roman portrait busts.

Museum staff restrained the man and Vatican police arrived a few minutes later to arrest him.
The two busts were damaged but not severely, the source said, adding that they already had been taken to the restoration lab in the museums for repair.

Pictures taken by visitors and posted on social media showed the two broken busts lying on the marble floor.

After having to shut down or reduce opening hours during years of COVID restrictions, the museums are now welcoming back tourists en masse. The museums received some six million visitors a year before the pandemic.

The most notorious assault on artwork in the Vatican was in 1972 when a Hungarian man jumped over a side altar in St. Peter’s Basilica and attacked Michelangelo’s Pieta with a sledgehammer. He knocked off the Madonna’s left arm and chipped her nose and veil.

Read the full article here.

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