tourist breaks toe
Tourist breaks toe

An ‘idiotic’ tourist, who broke three toes off a 19th-century Italian sculpture while posing for a picture, has been tracked down by local police.

Guards noticed the damage after a group of visitors left the Antonio Canova museum, which exhibits plaster models he made for his marble sculptures, on July 31.

Combing through CCTV, they were astonished to find the culprit had been reclining on the statue for a picture and appeared to put his weight on its toes while getting up.

Realising his error, he nonchalantly strolled away and left the museum in Possagno, northern Italy, without reporting the damage.

Vittorio Sgarbi, president of the museum, said: “We cannot stop everything but this idiotic behaviour shocked me. The toes were not at the edge so this tourist must have got very comfortable.”

The tourist, described as a 50-year-old Austrian man, admitted to the damage after being contacted on Tuesday and is willing to pay compensation, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Police said they managed to identify him thanks to Italy’s coronavirus track and trace service, although his name has not been released.

The woman, who booked the group’s tickets, had given her details during online registration and turned out to be the culprit’s wife.

Officers described his actions as a ‘stupid move’ in a press release and the museum’s director has called for him to face trial in Italy.

The life-size sculpture, known as Venus Victrix, was modelled after Pauline Bonaparte, the younger sister of the French emperor Napoleon, and caused a stir for depicting nudity of a high-society figure.

She was known as Paolina Borghese after marrying into the Italian nobility. Canova is seen as one of the greatest artists in the Neoclassical style and his final marble version of the piece is housed in the Borghese Gallery in Rome.