126-Year-Old Statue Destroyed by Man Taking Selfie

It was an ill-considered photo op.

The statue of Dom Sebastiao before it was destroyed. Courtesy of Peter Burka, via Flickr Creative Commons.
The statue of Dom Sebastiao before it was destroyed. Courtesy of Peter Burka, via Flickr Creative Commons.

The selfie continues to endanger the world’s collection of fine art. The latest piece to fall victim to an ill-considered photo op is a statue of Dom Sebastiao, who ruled Portugal from 1557 to 1578, at Lisbon’s Rossio train station, reports Reuters.

The 126-year-old statue shattered after a 24-year-old man reportedly knocked it over while climbing on it to take a photograph. The suspect, who has not been named, is said to have attempted to flee the scene before being apprehended by police.

A spokesperson for Infrastructure Portugal told the Daily Mail that he did not know when the statue would be repaired. Before the unfortunate incident, the sculpture was perched in a niche between two doorways at the station, which is a protected monument.

The statue of Don Sebastiao was broken by a young man taking a selfie. Courtesy of Infrastructure Portugal.

The statue of Don Sebastiao was broken by a young man taking a selfie. Courtesy of Infrastructure Portugal.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Last May, a pair of tourists damaged a statue of Hercules in the northern Italian city of Cremona while taking a photograph with it. In 2014, an Italian student tried to pose sitting in the lap of a 19th-century cast of an ancient work at Milan’s Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, only to smash the sculpture in the process.

Some museums have taken steps to protect their art by banning selfie sticks, which extend the reach of the photographer, and may increase the likelihood of inadvertently striking a work of art. (Even without selfies, accidents happen, like the boy who lost his balance and punched $1.5 million painting, or the woman who tripped and smashed an ancient Greek vase.)

Russians in particular have embraced the selfie in a less-than safe manner, with a spate of selfie-related deaths (including at least one by tiger), prompting government officials to issue official selfie safety guidelines.

For our money, however, the best selfie-gone-wrong story is still the American exchange student who got trapped in a giant marble vagina on a German college campus. It took 22 firefighters to rescue the young man, who certainly got more than he bargained for in his quest for the perfect Facebook photo.


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