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  • Courtney Robinson
  • "Man breaks statue in museum -- how do you feel about this?"

Courtney Robinson

Los Angeles, California

Man breaks statue in museum -- how do you feel about this?

So, I just read an article in the New York Times about how a 24-year-old man attending a party in a Delaware museum snuck into a room that should have been locked and broke off the thumb of one of the famous Terra Cotta Warriors on loan to the museum. He kept it as a "souvenir" until the FBI raided his house and found it. The value of each warrior is about $4.5 million. Needless to say, Chinese officials are furious. 

What do you think about this? Is it the museum's fault? His fault? A combination? Much ado about nothing? 

Very curious to hear what people think, especially travelers since we're probably more likely to be avid museum goers than the average person. 

Can't wait to hear your thoughts on this!
C


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3 Answers

  • Mary Smith

    top answer by

    This was an appalling incident and one which is extremely embarrassing for the US. I am not surprised that the Chinese authorities are livid.

    But although the door to the exhibition room should have been locked, the fault lies exclusively with the idiot involved. An unlocked door is neither excuse nor justification for his behaviour. He actively chose to enter the room, actively chose to take selfies with the statues and...most importantly....actively chose not only to purposefully damage the statue but to keep the thumb as a 'souvenir', proving without question that he had neither conscience nor concern about his behaviour. He was fully aware that the artefacts were ancient and valuable, not only in monetary terms but also in terms of history, heritage and art.

    The only person responsible is the man who knowingly and deliberately vandalised an ancient artefact and...just like the idiots who deliberately toppled ancient rock formations in Utah and Oregon, who scratched their names into Colosseum stones, who damaged ancient statues in several locations whilst taking selfies....he should be charged, taken to court and punished appropriately.

    Does it really matter? Yes. The treasures of the past belong to all of us, both now and in the future, whether we personally value them or not. They are the heritage of the world, even if the cultures from which they come are no longer our own. And not one of us has the right to deliberately and knowingly damage the belongings of others, ever.

    (And yes, I do feel strongly about this sort of thing! :-) )

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  • Hazel B

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    If they can do the crime, then they can do the time.

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  • Janelle Kennedy

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    Legally, both the perpetrator and the museum are liable for the damages. The perpetrator deliberately damaged a priceless artifact, and the museum was negligent by failing to lock the door. The perpetrator is likely facing felony criminal charges as well. The Chinese government (assuming it's they who own the statues) will probably sue the museum for the cost of repairing the statue and for punitive damages as well, and will get an award of somewhere in the neighbourhood of $5-8 million either as a judgment or an out-of-court settlement. They could also name the perpetrator in the lawsuit, but probably won't because the perpetrator won't have $5-8 million to pay.

    The Chinese government will feign indignation and use this incident as a convenient excuse to snipe at the U.S. and make generalisations about American people because that's just what the Chinese government does. However, boorish narcissism, drunken misbehaviour and general lack of respect are common traits among 24 year olds across the world, and by no means limited only to Americans.

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    • John S.

      John S.

      There is no basis for punitive damages against the museum on a negligence claim. The owner of the damaged statute may be able to be able to collect compensatory damages, however, from the museum if the facts show the museum was negligent. The young man will probably end up with a large judgment for both compensatory and punitive damages and a conviction. · (0 likelikes)

    • Adam H.

      Adam H.

      I'm sure this is covered in the loan agreement between the Chinese entity that handles these things and the museum. There's likely a cap. And it will likely be paid by insurance. But, you know, I could be wrong. · (0 likelikes)

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