American tourist smashed two ancient Roman busts in the Vatican

An American tourist visiting the Vatican smashed two ancient Roman busts on Wednesday. The man was reportedly in a “state of agitation” when he threw the two busts, according to the Vatican.

The suspect is believed to be around 60 years old had been in Rome for three days when he visited the Vatican, which is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and where Pope Francis lives and works. 

The statues were in the Chiaramonti Gallery of the Vatican Museums, which is filled with busts. An ear and nose of the two faces were damaged and the marble base of one was shattered. The busts were taken to the restoration lab of the Vatican Museums.

Vatican City contains religious sites, like St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as the Vatican Museums, all of which tourists can visit. It is a city-state with its own police force called the Vatican Gendarmerie, which handed the suspect over to Italian police for questioning. 

CBS News has reached out to the Vatican for more information and is awaiting response. 

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An image of the Chiaramonti Gallery, part of the Vatican Museums, taken in 1997.

Lothar M. Peter/ullstein bild via Getty Images


The Vatican Museums hold tens of thousands of pieces of modern religious art and Renaissance art, including the iconic Sistine Chapel, decorated by Michelangelo. 

Photography is not permitted in the chapel, and there is a strict dress code and security. Earlier this year, actor Jason Momoa came under fire for snapping photos in the Sistine Chapel while in Italy filming a movie. 

Momoa shared several photos from inside the historic chapel, which features famous Michelangelo masterpieces, and fans on Instagram were quick to point that photography was not permitted. To apologize, Momoa posted a video on Instagram of himself working out, then said: “It’s my last day in Rome, and I just love you and Italy. If you ever thought I disrespected your culture, that wasn’t my intention.”