Tourist breaks 600 year-old statue 'by accident'

A view of the damaged statue inside Florence's Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence. Image: Maurizio Degl' Innocenti - EPA

An American tourist accidentally snapped the finger off a priceless 14th century statue after trying to ‘measure’ it.

Security guards at Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo spotted the unnamed visitor – reported in local press to be a 55 year-old from Missouri - as he handled the digit, but were unable to get to him before he broke it off.

The incident has caused outrage in Italy, with the exhibit thought to have been created by medieval sculptor Giovanni D’Ambrogio in the 14th or 15th century.

The statue is believed to have originated from the 14th or 15th century, Image: Maurizio Degl' Innocenti - EPAThe statue is believed to have originated from the 14th or 15th century, Image: Maurizio Degl' Innocenti - EPA

The statue is believed to have originated from the 14th or 15th century, Image: Maurizio Degl' Innocenti - EPA

The tourist is thought to have apologised, but could still face a hefty fine for damaging the priceless artwork.

The museum’s head, Timothy Verdon – an American himself – was scathing about the incident, saying: “In a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is, ‘Do not touch the works’”.

He did, however, note that the finger was not an original but had been added at a later date, while adding that it is unclear how much any repairs would cost or indeed whether they would be possible.