An American tourist has been arrested for smashing up two ancient Roman sculptures after being told he couldn’t see Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The man, who hasn’t been named but is in his 50s, went on a rampage when he was visiting the Vatican Museums around noon Wednesday.
After being informed he couldn’t meet the pope, the man allegedly hurled himself into one of the ancient busts in the museums’ Chiaramonti hall — knocking the sculpture off its pedestal, local newspaper Il Messaggero reported.
As he tried to flee from museum security, the American knocked another bust to the floor.
Staff managed to restrain the man until Vatican police arrived minutes later to arrest him.
Photos posted on social media by shocked onlookers showed the two broken busts lying on the marble floor.
“The busts were affixed to shelves with a nail but if you pull them down with force, they will come off,” Matteo Alessandrini, a spokesman for the Vatican Museums, told CNN.
The two busts were damaged but not severely, he added.
“One lost part of a nose and an ear, the head of the other came off the pedestal,” Alessandrini said.
The shattered pieces have already been taken to the restoration lab in the museums for repair.
The Chiaramonte hall is home to about 100 ancient Roman busts and statues.
The American man’s outburst is the latest in a string of incidents this summer that has seen tourists damaging monuments around Rome.
A pair of American tourists were fined after one of them was caught on video hurling an electric scooter down Rome’s Spanish Steps — causing more than $26,000 worth of damage to the world-famous site in June.
Meanwhile, a Canadian tourist was caught carving her name into the Colosseum in July.
Attacks on artworks in the Vatican also aren’t new.
The most notorious assault was back 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. That Renaissance masterpiece is now kept behind bulletproof glass.
With Post wires