American tourist demands to see Pope, then smashes two ancient statues in the Vatican

An American tourist smashed one 2000-year-old statue in anger and then another while trying to escape officials pursuing him in The Vatican on Wednesday, where he had demanded to see the Pope and been told he could not. The man was captured and is being held by Vatican police.

The episode took place in the Museo Chiaramonti, part of the Vatican Museums, around lunchtime. The space holds around 1,000 works of ancient statuary, and describes itself as "one of the finest collections of Roman portraits" in the world. Two of those portraits are now facing an uncertain future after the tourist knocked over one in anger, then toppled another as he fled the scene.

A source told the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero that the works, in the "Galleria Chiaramonte" corridor, are "secondary" and not famous. They are being assessed for restoration in the Vatican's in-house workshop, and the damage is reportedly not too bad: "One lost part of a nose and an ear, the head of the other came off the pedestal."

At least he wasn't in a Maserati.

UPDATE: The Vatican has a very nice virtual tour of the museum where the incident took place. Lots of statues to smash!