Another day, another unnecessary, accidental damage of art. This most recent incident follows the utterly heedless decision of one unidentified tourist in Lisbon who scaled a life-size statue of a 16th-century Portuguese king at Rossio Railway Station to attain, of course, a selfie.
As Reuters first reported, the 24-year-old man climbed onto the pedestal of the stone figure of Dom Sebastião, which stood in a niche flanked by large, ornately decorated horseshoe-shaped arches at the station’s Neo-Manueline-style façade. The statue of Sebastião, who died in battle while on crusade against the kingdom of Morocco, then met its own tragic end, toppling to the ground and smashing. Designed by Portuguese architect José Luís Monteiro and completed in 1890, the station is a protected monument. It is unclear whether or not a selfie stick was involved in the statue’s destruction.
The selfie-seeker apparently tried to make a break for it, but police managed to take him into custody. He is currently awaiting trial.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is not the first time a quest for a selfie with art has ended in disaster: remember the young lad who hoisted himself onto a “Drunken Satyr” statue in Milan for a snapshot and consequently broke off one of its legs? And more recently, a German teenager’s ascent to the top of the Great Pyramid of Giza fortunately left no visible damage to the structure, but the stunt earned him a lifelong ban from Egypt.
Consider this tale from Lisbon your regular reminder to not use art as your personal climbing walls. And no, it’s still not okay to scale a priceless object even if you are a child.