Delaware Man Allegedly Ripped Off Thumb From 2,000-Year-Old Chinese Terracotta Warrior

imagesWe 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.

He later produced the thumb when confronted by the FBI.  

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?

40 thoughts on “Delaware Man Allegedly Ripped Off Thumb From 2,000-Year-Old Chinese Terracotta Warrior

  1. If his picture in tennis attire is correct, my assumption is that this mommy’s boy is a little light on personal responsibility . If we keep this guilty person (he admitted it and provided the finger that matches video evidence) in the spotlight then possibly this conviction should stick. Otherwise he should have mommy and daddy write a check and all will be forgotten record expunged, able to become lawyer etc. This is the failure of the press to hold him accountable. Journalism has died and turned to advertising.

  2. What do you think should be the sentence in such a case?

    Michael Rohana of Bear, Del. should be made to clean bird-poop off statues/memorials in a 40 mile radius of his local hometown for 2 years.

  3. CV Brown – the thrust of the article was the desecration of an ancient statue, so that is what I honed in on. The museum’s problems with China are their own. I am only interested in the art restoration.

  4. Defacing or destroying art is sacrilege. It can be glued back on but will never be whole.

    That was a three-dimensional portrait of a real human being. It is my understanding that these men were killed after these statues were made.

    These were international, unique, irreplaceable treasures.

    Our culture is degrading.

    • I also hold the Franklin Institure liable. They were negligent in failing to secure treasures on loan, and other countries should take note.

      The vandal should receive the maximum jail sentence. His crime has international repercussions and may erode trust in museums across the country.

  5. I’d say a year and a day in jail, since his actions were so clearly intentional. In addition, he may have harmed relations with China, because they may wonder why their antiquities weren’t better protected by the U.S. From their perspective, it shows a lack of respect and a lack of appreciation. I wouldn’t be surprised if other countries limit the art they are willing to lend to the U.S. The carelessness of the Franklin Institute is inexcusable. Someone should be fired forthwith!

  6. How stupid can you get?? What the hell would a person do with that??? Just another ugly American showing his ass in a foreign country. No wonder they hate us.

  7. First of all, THIS is Cultural Appropriation. Not all that other garbage we keep reading about lately. Second, give Rohana to the Chinese on loan for 1 year. If he makes it back with all his parts intact, he’s sure to have a greater appreciation for the Chinese culture.

  8. Not to downplay the irresponsibility but since all the terracotta soldiers were reconstructed (none were whole when found according to the exhibit info), the repair should be fairly easy

  9. Make him work at an archeological dig, under the hot sun, for 5-7 summers, without pay and no sunscreen for his precious, little snowflake complexion.

  10. I’m in favor of the Chinese method which does’t include prisons perhaps the ill informed meant labor camps but a quick bullet in the brain with a bill for the roud sent to the family seems appropriate though given the relative value they still come up short. the other is the good ole Singapore 100 lashes with a crushed bambo whip.

  11. “What do you think should be the sentence in such a case?”

    Oh, this is a trick question! How can we decide his sentence when we don’t know anything about Mr. Rohana. Is he black? If so, then we must not mass incarcerate him. Is he transgender? What is his ethnicity? Is he a Democrat or Republican, because different sets of rules apply? Is he a SJW trying to make a point with this??? Is he gay, Bradley Manning?

    I mean, how do we decide what to do with him when all this information is missing?

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    • Squeeky – I am with Squeeky. In our Woke Generation, we must know so much more about him, other than he owns an ugly sweater.

    • Squeeky, you will always be wrong, because when figuring this out, an identity group is always n + 1, because there will always be one that hasn’t been named yet, and there will be outrage when you leave them out.

      I know it’s a big step, but I propose we have a temporary “catch all” identity group, until said group gets enough people to use the Democratic process to pick a name–at which time someone in the group will disagree, undermine the Democratic process due to their “feelings,” react with violence, and result in anarchy with no solution to the original issue. So this could take a while. Since it may actually never resolve, I’m sure we could get a Democratic government agency created to oversee it all, and perhaps create special tax-payer funded hats for these folks to wear while they work all of this out. Surely we’ll want to know who they are so we can apply the yet undecided specific pronoun for them.

  12. It is not like this is the only one of these, there are literally thousands of them. Did he do it on purpose or accident? The theft of goods that old puts him under a special statute for stealing the thumb, however, they are terracotta and fragile so proving he intentionally damaged it is another matter.

    BTW, did you know you can buy replicas of them, full-size to miniature? Terracotta is not that hard to repair, Superglue does a great job.

      • WWAS – short the grass, it is a Chia Pet, same material for the base. I collect art and have seen a few of the warriors at my local museum. They are impressive, but they are not up to the quality of the Greeks working in marble. They are shop made assembly line work.

        • “They are impressive, but they are not up to the quality of the Greeks working in marble.”

          No one is claiming that, PCS.

          In your usual back-tracking manner you originally belittle the damage, i.e. fix it with superglue, then state something no one else has argued so that you can carry on your non-sequitur obfuscations.

          You’re a fool, time and again.

          • WWAS – I am generally very defense-minded, although once in a while I do call for a rope and a chair. I know something about art restoration and it is not going to be a big deal unless there are chips he broke off with the finger. Superglue will fix it.

            I also know about pottery types and terracotta is very porous and fragile. It would not take much to break something off, such as brushing against the finger. Just for your information, I used to teach Introduction to Art, History of American Art and History of Art, all as college courses.

            • So smart you are!

              Having done so much, I’m amazed that you have such a caviler perspective regarding damage to any antiquities.

              But you can keep going with your original response of, “fix it with superglue”, while ignoring the fact that your argument is continually backtracking while trumpeting your bona fides.

              Keep going, PCS; this is fun.

              • WWAS – great art gets broken or damaged from time to time. I am not cavalier, rather pragmatic. Damage to a painting might take months or years to repair, but this is an easy fix, as easy as fixing the handle on your broken coffee cup. Where it gets dangerous is cleaning the Sistine Chapel (which ruined several dissertations) or cleaning the Mona Lisa, which is covered in varnish and is yellowing. Paintings are regularly taken out of circulation and cleaned in all large collections. Older paintings are regularly repaired and touched up. Old masterpieces are re-authenticated or not. When Chihuly does one of his installations, he expects to break a certain amount of the pieces while they are in the process of putting together the installation. He brings duplicate pieces.

                The hands on a statue are the most delicate part and often break off, even as the artist is carving the piece. If you see the history of art as linear, this isn’t even a blip on the radar.

                • We all know art gets broken, destroyed, modified, etc., PCS.

                  Quit digging your hole deeper.

                  “BTW, did you know you can buy replicas of them, full-size to miniature? Terracotta is not that hard to repair, Superglue does a great job.” — PCS

                  Stated as if the damage should be ignored as one can purchase replicas of any size and superglue rules all.

                  You just thought you could give a PCS quip comment and no one would notice your chapped-ass laissez-faire attitude.

                  Lecture us all on art restoration — prove that you miss the point, again.

                • I am not sure you fully understand the meaning of these artifacts, although you said you used to teach art courses, PCS.

                  “Easy to fix” sounds very very very arrogant to me. These artifacts survived for more than 2200 years! You are not even supposed to touch it. (Some) Americans, like this partier, shall at least show some respects to the rest of the world.

                  • Henry – easy fix is not arrogant, it is pragmatic. It is not like fixing the finger on the Pieta of Michelangelo. Terracotta is cheap pottery and super glue will do the job to repair it.

                    As an aside, I have been to a couple of these special events at a museum and they usually serve booze. It is either a wine tasting or champagne. Nobody is limiting the amount you drink. The museum may have caused their own problem.

                    I am wondering if the finger did not get caught in his ugly sweater and break off, so he put it in his pocket. I know I would be tempted to take home a 2200-year-old souvenir. Although I would not put it on FB.

              • WWAS said to PCS, “I’m amazed that you have such a caviler perspective . . . ”

                That’s the best typo so far this year. Caviler–one who cavils.

  13. “… went to the museum as part of its ‘Ugly Sweater Party’ …”

    My guess: The museum is probably reconsidering whether its upcoming “Glue-Sniffing Morons” party is the best way to attract people to visit the museum.

    Jail time for the perp? — but what should the punishment be for the idiot whose idea the “Ugly Sweater Party” was?

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