(CNN) – Just when you thought the summer of misbehaving tourists was over, another vacationer wrecks another priceless artifact.
This time it is the turn of an American tourist who smashed nothing less than two ancient Roman sculptures in the Vatican this Wednesday.
The episode took place at the Chiaramonti Museum, part of the Vatican Museums, at lunchtime. The space houses nearly 1,000 ancient statuary works and is described as “one of the finest collections of Roman portraits” in the world.
Two of those portraits now face an uncertain future after the tourist toppled one in anger and then toppled another as he fled the scene.
As he ran off, with the staff in pursuit, he knocked down another.
The two works of art were taken to the own workshop to be evaluated. Although they are about 2,000 years old, they are thought to be secondary works of art, rather than famous works, a source told Il Messaggero.
The director of the Vatican Museums Press Office, Matteo Alessandrini, told CNN that the American man, in his 50s, was in the “Galleria Chiaramonte” corridor, which houses about 100 busts and statues.
“The busts used to be nailed to the shelves but if you pull them down hard they will come off,” he said. “He knocked down one and then the other and the guards immediately came and arrested him and sent him to the Vatican police who took him in for questioning. At around 5.30pm he was handed over to the Italian authorities.
“The 2 busts are damaged but not particularly badly. One has lost part of a nose and an ear, the head of the other has come off the pedestal.”
He said that restoration work has already begun, and that “soon they will be restored and back to the Museum.”
Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly attributed a quote to a spokesman for the Vatican Museums.
Delia Gallagher contributed to this report