An Austrian tourist has issued a heartfelt apology for breaking a few toes off of an early 19th century statue he posed with for a photo with while visiting a museum in northern Italy last week, the New York Times reports.
The 200-year-old statute is of Napoleon Bonaparte's younger sister Pauline. It's housed in the Gypsotheca Antonio Canova museum, which is named after Italian artist Antonio Canova, who was commissioned by Pauline's husband to create the plaster model known as Venus Victrix. As you can see in the above photo, Pauline was captured in a reclining position. The unnamed tourist attempted to mimic her pose, but apparently put too much weight on her toes.
"During the visit I sat on the statue, without realizing the damage that I evidently caused," the tourist wrote in a letter to foundation president, Vittorio Sgarbi. "I am asking you for information on what steps are necessary on my part in this situation, which is very unpleasant for me and for which, in the first place, I apologize in every way."
Even though a museum official spotted the damage minutes after the tourist and his wife left, the police were able to track him down through the country's implementation of contract tracing in wake of COVID-19. All visitors are required to enter their name and contact information prior to entry.
Sgarbi initially appealed to police via Facebook that the tourist's actions could not "unpunished." However, after receiving his apology, Sgarbi struck a different tone in a new statement, saying, "I appreciate the civic sense of this citizen, and I take note of his words of embarrassment for what happened." Still, an Italian court is undecided on whether or not to press charges.
The museum is now reportedly figuring out a restoration plan for the statue. Check out the security camera footage of the incident below.