As one rich lawyer who owned an Andy Warhol original found out, some people just don’t respect art. While alcohol was a factor in that debacle, it seems that just plain old malice was used against another work of art at a museum’s “Ugly Sweater Party” in December.
The Courier-Post confirms that in Philadelphia, federal authorities claim that one of those attending “slipped into a closed exhibit and snipped off part of a sculpture.” A thumb was taken from one of the sculptures of soldiers were “at the burial complex of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi” and date back to 209 B.C. It was removed from the “life-size clay soldier known as the ‘Cavalryman.'”
The work was on “loan from China at The Franklin Institute” and is “from a $4.5 million terracotta warrior that’s part of an acclaimed exhibit.” Why anyone would purposefully do such a thing is beyond the grasp of most thinking people and the museum is far from happy about it.
The sculpture represented on who gave “after-life security” to the emperor who led the “Terracotta Army.”
Who would do such a thing? Authorities say that a man in a long-sleeved green sweater and a “Phillies” baseball hat was the culprit. For reasons unknown, he strolled into a darkened area of the exhibit called “Science After Hours Party” on December 31st and callously did the deed, according to a federal affidavit.
A video shows him near “a priceless part of China’s cultural heritage,” according to FBI Special Agent Jacob Archer. As if often the case, somehow criminals fail to remember that this is not 1918, but 2018. Everything is likely being recorded in our day and age.
Archer, a “member of the FBI’s Art Crime Team” which tracked drug dealers was not to find a much wiser criminal even in such a high-class place as this.
The exhibit consists of “10 statues, including a general, a charioteer and a saddled horse” and the Post jokingly says that if one is a collector, that is the potential to score “up to 18 thumbs — and four hooves.”
Ornaments of gold, “jade pieces, and coins are among more than 170 accompanying artifacts,” yet this destroyer of art thought that somehow that no one would notice what he had done. Oddly enough, while security cameras may have been on and ready, the rest of the security was subpar.
The door to the exhibit was closed but not locked, for starters. Only a black rope was stopping Michael Rohana of Bear, Delaware, as he approached the unattended and most-priceless of ancient works.
The Franklin Institute was forced to admit that “standard closing procedures were not followed.” This is an admission that may make other art houses not wish to loan so much as a picture frame or a hanging nail to them in the future.
Attempting to avoid this stigma, they also said, “As a result of this incident, we have thoroughly reviewed our security protocol and procedures and have taken appropriate action where needed.” They also claimed that the “multiple levels of security in place to ensure the safety of our artifacts” as they did everything to help the F.B.I. that they could.
Rohana invited a pair of friends into the restricted area for “a private tour” at around 9:15 p.m. His friends left rather quickly but Rohana stayed behind for a bit. At first, he was simply using his cellphone to look at the figures, but soon things took a darker turn.
He stood up on one platform that had a warrior sculpture and “placed his arm around that sculpture and took a photograph of himself with the sculpture.” This may end up being the costliest selfie in Pennsylvania history.
As he was departing the room, Rohana “appeared to break something off the Cavalryman’s left hand and put it in his left pocket,” Archer stated.
It took until January 8th for a worker to notice the damage. There were five people who all attended the exhibit and one of those friends admitted that Rohana had talked about the thumb on the ride home. This was said after credit card and other information proved who was there and at what time.
A different friend even said that Rohana posted a photo of the “finger” on his Snapchat account. Clearly, the gravity of what he had done was somehow lost on this man.
The agent showed up at Rohana’s doorstep and asked “if he had anything in his possession that he wanted to turn over to the FBI.” The account says that the suspect took Archer to the bedroom “and retrieved the stolen thumb from the top right drawer of a desk.”
The Post mentions that “Love and Lust” is the theme for next month, so one can only imagine what could go wrong with that.
Joking aside, this act may have been more dimwittedness than malice, but that does not justify it. It is as if in the world today, everyone is so locked into their cell phones that they are missing everything outside of that sad, blue screen.
While this mindset does not always lead to the destruction of art on a federal level, it is more common that it needs to be. That, more than even the price of this now-ruined art, is really worrisome.