The Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center has asked the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the museum currently displaying the Terracotta Warrior exhibit, for compensation. The reason? For the damage Michael Rohana caused by stealing a statue’s thumb.
Rohana, a guest at the museum’s “Ugly Sweater Party,” reportedly broke into the closed exhibit on December 21, Courier Post reported. He managed to sneak inside the closed off area and used his cellphone’s flashlight to illuminate the area.
Rohana, from Bear, Delaware, took a selfie with one of the $4.5 million statues with his arm wrapped around it. To make the matters worse, he also pried off the thumb of the statue, identified as a Cavalryman, and concealed it inside his pocket before leaving the room.
It took two weeks to discover what happened to the statue. Shortly after, the FBI went to the 24-year-old man’s home to ask about the stolen thumb. He immediately obliged, relinquishing the digit he’d nabbed.
In an FBI affidavit published last week, Rohana was charged with “theft of a major artwork from a museum, concealment of a major artwork stolen from a museum, and interstate transportation of stolen property,” Shanghaiist via Medium reported. He is currently out on bail.
The incident was not received well by the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center. It proposed to send a small team of experts to the Franklin Institute to assess the damage and asked for compensation from the museum.
In addition to the proposal for compensation, an unnamed official from the center expressed that Rohana should face severe punishment for his crime: stealing and damaging very valuable art from China’s history.
The Terracotta Army statues were made more than 2,000 years ago as guards for the first emperor of China and founder of the Qin dynasty, Qin Shi Huang, in the afterlife.
The Terracotta Warriors exhibit in Franklin Institute will continue to open its doors until Marc 4, 2018; however, they ask that visitors keep their hands — not the statues’ hands — to themselves.
Featured image Shanghaiist via Medium