Police in Treviso, northern Italy were given a break in their hunt for a clumsy vandal, after a tourist was caught on CCTV snapping the toes off a historic statue.
The tourist, who was revealed to be 50-year-old visitor from Austria, was posing for a photo next to the recumbent Italian artwork in the Gypsotheca Antonio Canova museum in Possagno.
The poor Venus was not able to sustain the weight of the visitor, and he broke off her toes. The statue in question was a plaster cast of Napoleon's younger sister, Paolina Bonaparte by sculptor Antonio Canova. Made to appear like marble, the 200-year-old plaster was more fragile than it looked.
The embarrassing incident happened on July 31, but police told CNN that they soon tracked down the party of Austrian tourists with which the vandal had visited the museum.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
In a police statement the local department said it occurred when the man went to pose with the selfie while "sprawled over the statue".
Although Paolina lost her toes, investigators warned that there could be more damage to the statue than the obvious cosmetic wounds.
Police were only able to track down the culprit because of coronavirus track and trace measures, which oblige visitors to leave contact details when they sign into public places. He was quickly contacted by police.
The toe-breaking tourist was caught red handed and had little option to but to confess to what he called a "stupid move".
The museum has been working to restore the sculpture. Depicting Emperor Napoleon's sister as "Venus in victory", it was one of the more impressive in the collection.
Museum director Moira Mascotto released a statement asking visitors to behave themselves.
"We reiterate that our heritage must be protected: adopting responsible behaviour 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," it read.