We 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.
It 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.