Most Expensive Works of Art Destroyed By Tourists

Imagine it was your job to protect objects
of great value that are considered national treasures. Day after day you witness hordes of tourists
getting off the bus and rushing towards the place where you work. Some of those guys are half-baked from afternoon
drinking, and time after time you have to tell people, “Don’t touch”, “That’s
not a toy”, “Get down from there”, “For God’s sake be careful.” Half the time they don’t understand you
because they don’t speak your language. Thankfully, no one on your watch has ever
destroyed anything, but you are well aware that tourists have been walking disasters
in other countries. We’ll look at some of those things to today,
starting the least expensive things damaged and then moving onto the most expensive things. To start, Italy has had lots of problems of
late with tourists doing very silly things, but we think the idiots abroad award goes
to a couple from California. In 2015 it was reported they’d visited Rome’s
Coliseum, but they weren’t happy just looking at things. The couple decided to carve their initials
into a wall of the coliseum and then pose with those initials for a selfie. Ok, so we can’t put a price on this one,
but we can say the act cost the reputation of Americans quite a lot. What’s more, when the two women were asked
if they didn’t think that carving an initial into something over 2000 years old was bad,
they said they didn’t think it was such a big deal. It was, and they were both charged with “aggravated
damage to a building of historical and artistic interest.” For the rest of you out there, when you one
day finally go visit that ancient place, you might also get to see a “J” and an “N”. Possibly the oldest artifact damaged by a
tourist was something inside Luxor Temple that dates back 3,500 years. A 15-year old Chinese kid had seen the ancient
image of a man holding a spear and he decided that he too wanted to go down in history. He scribbled on the image in large letters,
“Ding Jinhao was here.” That’s the English translation. Another Chinese tourist saw this, but was
too late to stop the kid. He later wrote on a Chinese social network,
“The saddest moment in Egypt. I’m so embarrassed that I want to hide myself. I said to the Egyptian tour guide, ‘I’m really
sorry.” The parents of the boy issued a statement,
saying, “We want to apologize to the Egyptian people and to people who have paid attention
to this case across China.” The kid was a national disgrace, and he became
one person in a long line of Chinese people accused of behaving badly when abroad. It seems the damage could be undone, so again,
it was not that costly. This next one was reported by Newsweek in
2019, and while we can’t really put a price on the damage, we can say the act was pretty
much as dumb as you can get. It involved a photo that turned up on Instagram
which showed a couple standing in front of a sandstorm formation in Illinois. The formation is over 400 million years old,
and it was reported that the place was an important meeting site for native Americans
for around 8,000 years. In the photo a couple have scribbled their
initials on the formation, which is next to a love heart. We expect that this vandalism could be cleaned
up for a minimal cost. NBC news wrote this about the next one in
2013, “An American tourist in Italy has generated shock and outrage by snapping the
finger off a 600-year-old statue at a museum in Florence.” The news reports that a 55-year old American
man had seen a statue of the Virgin Mary. This was made by a 15th-century sculptor named
Giovanni d’Ambrogio and it is considered a priceless work of art. The man, from Missouri, had wanted to high
five Mary. The cost of fixing the finger was not published,
but since it was just a finger we doubt the cost was high. Let’s just say it was likely a cheap fix. Before any Italians out there start criticizing
Americans, we will tell you that in 2014 an Italian was visiting a museum in Milan and
he took a selfie with a sculpture known as the, “Drunken Satyr.” The sculpture ended up losing a limb. The good news is that this was only a copy
of a well-known ancient Greek sculpture, but the bad news is that it was an expensive and
remarkable copy that dates back to the 19th century. Christies estimated the value of an object
like this one to be just 7-$10,000. Looking at the damage, we would think it could
have been fixed, although it would have taken some time and expertise. Next we have one way to get rid of a King. In 2016 a man was in Lisbon, Portugal, and
he thought it would be a good idea to climb onto a pedestal to get a photo with the statue
of the former king Dom Sebastiao. He did just that, and the king came crashing
down. It was smashed to pieces. The guy tried to escape but he was apprehended. The media didn’t state what fixing the statue
would cost, but seeing a it was smashed to pieces we can say it will never be the same
again. This next one is another act of senseless
violence and this time committed by a man touring his own country. It happened in a cave in southwest China in
2017 and the act was caught on video. A young guy can be seen taking three kicks
at a stalagmite. On the third kick the thing snaps. He then just walks away, so he wasn’t even
trying to steal it. There might not be a price you can put on
this, but it appalled some people in China. They said these things can take many, many
thousands of years to get to that point, maybe even hundreds of thousands. Then some guy just decides to take his anger
out on one. Some of the Chinese public said he needed
to be arrested and banned from ever entering a national attraction again. From what we can see he was never arrested. In this case the stalagmite was appraised
so that the man could be charged and made to pay some compensation, but the media doesn’t
state what value they put on the object. Then there’s the case of a British man who
was visiting a museum in 2006 and had a bit of a comedy moment, as well as an expensive
one. The Guardian explained that his shoelace was
undone and that tripped him up, but there was nothing for him to grab a hold of. He was actually coming down some stairs. It seems then he just went flying, and he
ended up hitting three Chinese Qing dynasty vases worth around $120,000. He explained to The Guardian, “Although
I knew the vase would break I didn’t imagine it would be loose and crash into the other
two. I’m sure I only hit the first one and that
must have flown across the windowsill and hit the next one, which then hit the other,
like a set of dominos.” He actually got banned from the museum, which
seems a bit harsh considering a rogue shoelace was to blame. The guy admitted that what had taken place
could have been right out of some old British slapstick comedy movie. Not to be outdone by the Brits, this is the
story of an Australian man named Laszlo Toth who was likely suffering from a mental illness
when in 1972 he went to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and attacked Michelangelo’s
Pietà statue with a hammer. He hit the thing 15 times while shouting,
“I am Jesus Christ — risen from the dead.” The man was 33 at the time, which is the age
that Jesus is thought to have died. He wasn’t charged with a crime and instead
spent a bit of time talking about resurrection to Italian psychiatrists. One guy wrote that he knew Laszlo and he said
besides the fact he read his bible more than most people read bibles, he seemed totally
fine. The guy wrote, “At the time we were room-mates,
he didn’t strike me as a Jesus Christ impersonator, and he never talked to me of such things. We spent much of our days drinking coffee,
going to parties at night and drinking beer and wine, and Lazlo often played his guitar.” Others wrote that once he returned to Australia
he led a very quiet life. The good news about this act of vandalism
is that when restorers were trying to put the statue back together they discovered a
secret signature written by Michelangelo. We don’t know the cost of fixing the damage,
but it took a lot of people with a lot of skill, a lot of time. The New York Times wrote that the statue was
insured in 1964 for $10 million, which in today’s money is about $81 million. The New York Times wrote in 2017 that perhaps
one woman could claim a place in the selfie hall of infamy after destroying part of an
art installation in Los Angeles. We’ve seen the video online, and this woman
is trying to take a selfie at the side of lots of columns. On each column lies a crown, which is part
of the artwork. She leans back against one column which is
first in a long row of columns. You can guess what happens next. She knocks over that column, but then the
rest of them all fall like dominoes. The British artist was contacted by the Times
and he said it was not staged like some people had said it was. It looks so funny a person might think it
was staged. He said, “Crowns are fragile things. They are symbols of power. Perhaps it’s ironic and meaningful that
they fell.” It’s thought that the woman caused about
$200,000 worth of damage. Then we found this headline from 2015, “Selfie-Taker
Smashes Priceless Historic Italian Statue of Hercules.” Yep, priceless, and destroyed by someone who
was looking for likes on social media. We should note that when people say priceless,
they mean a value shouldn’t be out on the object because it meant so much. You can look at a value put on some similar
objects by the auctioning house, Chtisties, and they might sell for as much as $250,000. We don’t know where the tourist came from,
but we read that the statue was considered one of the jewels of an Italian city called
Cremona. The tourist climbed on top of it and it fell. The entire thing smashed to pieces. That statue had been around since 1700, but
it was no match for a selfie taker. The BBC reported in 2014 that tourists had
tied so many locks to the Pont des Arts in Paris, that part of the bridge had collapsed. If you didn’t know, tourists might do that
in the name of romance. But over a million locks weighs a lot, and
part of the bridge just came down. So this one was a combined effort by people
from all over the world. We are not sure how much it cost to fix the
broken part of the bridge, but we imagine it wasn’t cheap. It cost over $600,000 to add some new additions
to the bridge, so you we might estimate the damage overall to be above one million. Next is the story of another person that tripped
and caused a lot of damage. It involved a boy who’d gone to visit an
exhibition of Italian masterpieces in Taiwan. The 12-year old kid, who was a little on the
heavy side, was not looking where he was going. He was walking along and it seems he was listening
to the group leader, only he didn’t notice a table. When he hit that table he fell forward, and
then he stuck out one hand. The funny thing is, if you watch the video
he kind of gets up and looks around to see if anyone has seen what he’s done. That hand went into a painting. It was called Flowers and was painted by an
Italian master called Paolo Porpora. According to reports, this one was very special
‘cos it was the only one he signed. It was worth over $1.5 million. The painting was insured, but the museum said
the damage was so bad it might not be possible to restore it. That’s one and a half million for not paying
attention. European football hooligans have over the
years marched into cities and made a mess. They have destroyed cafes, bars, stores, and
at the same time left a lot of blood on the streets. You could say these guys are not tourists,
but along with their game of soccer they usually enjoy some beers and foreign food. We say enjoy, but their actions are often
considered hair-brained and dangerous. One of the worst things they have done happened
in 2017 when 7,000 Dutch fans arrived for a game in Rome. They got very drunk and just started smashing
things up. That’s not unusual, but this time they picked
on one of the city’s most famous fountains. This is the “Fontana della Barcaccia”
and it was built in 1627. They even urinated on the thing after they
smashed parts of it. The fountain needed a lot of restoration after
that, and the cost of all this was over three million dollars. 23 Dutch fans were arrested. The game ended 1-1. And finally in 2012, one man did something
which shocked not just the art world but the world in general. He punched a whole right through a painting
considered a masterpiece. The man’s name is Andrew Shannon and the
painting he decided to take a swipe at was Claude Monet’s “Argenteuil Basin with
a Single Sailboat.” This painting had a value of around $10 million. Ok, so the guy might not have considered himself
a tourist since the painting was in an Irish gallery and he was Irish, but then again he
might have been what’s called a domestic tourist. Why did he do it? There seems to be no clear reason. Some reports state that he did it to “get
back at the state”, whatever that means. But other reports state that the guy was not
feeling right in his head when he landed what might be the most expensive punch of all time. He didn’t just make a dent either, he punched
right through the thing. He was sentenced to five years in prison after
that, and so you might consider this flash of anger totally stupid. It turned out that this guy was a bit of a
crook and had handled lots of stolen goods in the past, including paintings and antiques. What would you do if you found you suddenly
put your fist through a priceless work of art? Try to tape it up? Blame it on your little brother? Tell us in the comments. Now go watch “Why Are Rolex Watches So Expensive?” Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t
forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time.


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