First He Took Selfie With 2,000-Year-Old Statue, Then Stole Its Thumb

An American man broke the thumb of a terracotta warrior statue worth $4.5 million and reportedly posted selfies with it on Snapchat.

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First He Took Selfie With 2,000-Year-Old Statue, Then Stole Its Thumb

Thousands of terracotta statues guard the tomb of China's first emperor (Representative Image)

It took three weeks for officials at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to realise that a priceless statue - one of 10 terracotta warriors on loan from China - was missing a thumb. It took the FBI only a few days to track down their main suspect - a man who, they say, left his thumbprints all over the crime scene. Last week, an American man was charged with theft and concealment of a major artwork after he admitted to stealing the thumb of the 2,000-year-old statue and stashing it in a drawer in his bedroom. Though he was eventually let out on bail, an angry China has now demanded "severe punishment."

According to Philly.com, 24-year-old Michael Rohana was attending an "Ugly Sweater Party" at the museum on December 21, 2017. Surveillance footage reportedly shows him sneaking into a closed exhibit with friends. He was allegedly caught on camera taking a selfie with his arm draped over the shoulder of one of the statues  and then snapping the thumb off one of the priceless statues, known as "The Cavalryman." He is said to have sent Snapchat messages to friends with photos of the detached digit.

When an FBI agent asked Mr Rohana if he had anything in his possession that he wanted to turn over to the FBI, Daily Mail reports he immediately went to his bedroom and retrieved the thumb from a desk drawer.

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But the incident has left the Chinese enraged. South China Morning Post reports that China has demanded compensation for the damage caused to the $4.5 million statue

The Terracotta Army - thousands of life-sized statues that guard the tomb of China's first emperor - is called one of the "most significant archaeological discoveries in history." The terracotta statues were built by the emperor who believed they would protect him in the afterlife.

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