We have previously discussed tourists who damage art and artifacts by their thoughtless conduct (here and here and here and here and here). This includes people snapping off legs or fingers of ancient works. Now Michael Rohana of Bear, Del. is accused of intentionaly snapping off the thumb of one of China’s ancient terracotta warriors on loan to the Franklin Institute.
Police say that Rohana went to the museum as part of its “Ugly Sweater Party” in December and was able to go into a closed exhibit area for the Franklin Institute’s “Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor.” The special exhibit features the Terracotta warriors — a few of the thousands of such figures making up the “Terrracotta Army” guarding China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi. The statues survived since 209 B.C. but Rohana allegedly decided to rip off a body part from the $4.5 million “Cavalryman” figure.
Police say that they have a videotape of Rohana in a long-sleeved green sweater and a Philadelphia Phillies cap walking into the dark, closed exhibit during the party. The room houses 10 statues, including a general, a charioteer and a saddled horse. Unbelievably, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia left the door unlocked.
Rohana is accused of entering and then bringing in two friends. (He was at the party with five friends from Delaware). His friends left soon thereafter but around 9:15 pm Rohana stayed behind to take selfies. He climbed on to the platform with the warrior for a selfie and then “appeared to break something off the Cavalryman’s left hand and put it in his left pocket.”
Rohana made it easy for the FBI Art Crime Team since he left his thumbprints all over exhibit.
Later police would track down Rohana and his friends. One said that Rohana talked about the thumb on the way home. He even posted a picture of the thumb on Snapchat, showing that he is as stupid as he is narcissistic and reckless.
I view this crime as despicable and would recommend a sentence of incarceration. I cannot imagine how anyone could look at a 2,000 year old figure and break it to take a souvenir. Both the cost of the damage and the depravity of the act warrant a good stint in jail in my view.
What do you think should be the sentence in such a case?