Tourist Takes Selfie In Portugal With “Dom Sebastian” By Climbing On Ornate Arch . . . And Shatters Historic Statue

33E631BE00000578-0-image-m-144_1462543266199We have previously discussed the destructive narcissism of tourists who write their names on historic locations or art. This includes the Chinese tourist who wrote on an ancient Egyptian temple or the Russian who carved his name into the Colosseum. An unidentified 55-year-old man from Missouri snapped the finger off a 14th or 15th century marble masterpiece when he decided to measure it by grabbing the hand. The latest victim is a 126-year-old statue of Dom Sebastian that crashed to the ground and shattered after man climbed on top of its pedestal to take a selfie with the 16th century Portuguese King. Now, no one else will be able to see the beautiful piece of art and history outside the ornate Rossio railway station in central Lisbon.

The crime occurred just before midnight and the man attempted to flee but was caught. The statue of the king stood in a niche between two horseshoe-shaped arches at the entrance to the station. It was completed in 1890.

220px-Dom_Sebastiao_de_PortugalIt was the final sad chapter for Dom Sebastiao. He only ruled for a short time though had an impressive run that included military legal reforms. He ruled only between 1557 and 1578 and then, ignoring the advice of some of his generals, he took his troops into the interior of the Moroccan empire in a crusade and was last seen charging the enemy at the Battle of Alcácer Quibir (Battle of the Three Kings). His army was devastated and he was killed but his body was never found.

I have long advocated for more significant punishment for such tourists, who destroy art and historic sites as well as natural locations. I understand that there are thoughtless and often impulsive acts. However, we need greater deterrence if we are to protect the world’s most precious sites and art.

42 thoughts on “Tourist Takes Selfie In Portugal With “Dom Sebastian” By Climbing On Ornate Arch . . . And Shatters Historic Statue”

  1. Why isn’t Basquiat being arrested for shattering the price record?

    More seriously, I’ve never been able to figure out how demand was created for the works of some modern artists. Like Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, etc. There are some artists whose works deserve high values, but the true Surrealism in art is the prices paid by collectors for the works of some artists. Prices paid for Van Gogh are downright earie.

    1. Don de Drain – when I was first teaching Intro to Art I would tell my students I thought Jackson Pollock was a rip-off. However, I had never seen one of his paintings close up. After seeing one in real-life I could appreciate the rhythms in the painting and what he was doing with the paint. Now, I am a big fan of Pollock. Andy Warhol is actually a factory artist. He had teams of people knocking his stuff out. I have seen Warhol’s up close and they are interesting as a large t-shirt. Same technique.

  2. Paul

    Read the title of this piece:

    Tourist. . . Shatters Historic Statue.

    1. bam bam – have never been a fan of titles. They are often misleading.

  3. Speaking of art, from the AP we learn

    “A monumental self-portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat (zhahn mee-SHEHL’ BAH’-skee-aht) has set a worldwide auction record for the artist, selling for $57.3 million at a Christie’s contemporary art sale.”

    and its not even old.

    Ummm … I think I went into the wrong line of work.

    1. bam bam – just because something is old does not mean it is historic.

  4. @Paul Schulte: “God protects idiots and drunks”

    Well there is that and thank goodness for it. Where would we be …

  5. Paul

    I disagree with you. While I have no idea what the local laws in Portugal claim with regard to property destruction, in the US, some states define criminal mischief as tampering and/or interfering with someone else’s property and/or intentionally or RECKLESSLY damaging someone else’s property. If Portuguese laws are anything like ours, this was, undoubtedly, according to the above-referenced definition, a crime. There is no question that this behavior was reckless.

    1. bam bam – I would say the actions are thoughtless, not reckless.

  6. Bams- they have people who make a living putting statues back together. I agree he should pay to have it repaired. Jail time is asking a bit much.

    1. @Reisling: “Jail time is asking a bit much.”

      Why? The act that caused the damage was intentional. Some kind of damage was clearly foreseeable. What ever monetary value placed on it, the statue clearly has meaning and value to that community that cannot be easily measured.

      I wouldn’t advocate for the death penalty for mere property damage – but jail time? Sure, the guy ought to do some time.

      It is high time people realize money cannot fix everything. The idea that you can throw a little money on any problem you create and walk away needs to end. This is an excellent case to make that point.

      1. bfm – the damage was neither intentional nor foreseeable. Were it so he would not have taken the selfie.

        1. @Paul Schulte: “he damage was neither intentional nor foreseeable.”

          I agree the damage was not intentional – not unless the guy is much more of a publicity hound that I have imagined.

          But help me if I am wrong, I believe that foreseeable, that is: imminently foreseeable, does not imply that a person knows with certainty that an event will occur. On the contrary it implies that a reasonable person could anticipate or realize that an event might occur.

          People put a fence around their swimming pools because it is imminently foreseeable that a drunk might walk into it and drown.

          People stop at stop signs because it is imminently foreseeable that they might have an accident if they do not; and it is imminently foreseeable that they might get a moving violation even if they do not have an accident.

          Restaurants use refrigeration because it is imminently foreseeable that their customers may get food poisoning if they do not.

          It seems imminently foreseeable, to me, that if an adult climbs on a statue it might break. If he were a 6 years old, his mother would have, undoubtedly, grabbed him off the pedestal, exclaiming ‘stay off that! It might break and hurt you.’

          Too bad the statue did not fall on the guy. That would have solved everything.

          1. bfm – my first take was that that statue was not properly balanced. When I looked at the photo I did not see any blood. I would have suspected the idiot came down with the statue and would have injured himself, but there is no evidence of it.

            Any statue that has been up that long has been climbed by drunk college students at least every couple of years. I would bet that if you searched all Facebook accounts for this statue you would find more that one with some drunk student hanging on it.

            1. @Paul Schulte: ” I would bet that if you searched all Facebook accounts for this statue you would find more that one with some drunk student hanging on it.”

              So the possibility of breaking the statue would have been imminently foreseeable, except that the poor guy was lulled and mislead by all the drunk college guys who did it and got away without bad effect.

              Maybe this would have turned out better if he had been drunk when he started? That’s the ticket! Everything goes better with a few drinks – and if they don’t at least you have an excuse.

  7. Replace the statue? There is no “replacing” the statue. What do you expect him to do? Go to Macy’s and get another one? The only solution is to have a craftsman, specializing in this type of work, painstaking put this thing back together–piece by piece. I would give the culprit jail time and demand that he pay all costs for restoration.

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