Man steals thumb of ancient terracotta warrior during museum party

Man steals thumb of ancient terracotta warrior during museum party

They have also demanded compensation for the damage caused to the US$4.5 million relic.

Federal authorities have said that a US man stole late past year a thumb of a Chinese terracotta warrior statue being displayed at a Philadelphia museum in state of Pennsylvania.

An affidavit filed in federal court earlier this month accused Michael Rohanna, a 24-year-old DE man, of breaking off and stealing the thumb from a loaned terracotta statue called "The Cavalryman", a treasured piece valued at $4.5 million.

The 10 statues now on display at the Franklin Institute are part of an army of 8,000 life-size clay warriors which make up the Terracotta Army. It carries an estimated value of $4.5m.

On Monday, the director of the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, the government-run organisation which loaned the statues out, "strongly condemned" the Franklin Institute for being "careless" with the statues, CCTV reported.

A Xinhua report said the cultural centre had established an emergency team to handle the matter and initiated procedures for claiming compensation from the USA institute, based on an agreement signed by both parties.

That's when the statue's thumb went missing, though the institute didn't notice the disappearance until well after the event.

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Xinhua reports on the FBI's allegations: that the 24-year-old took a selfie with the statues, touched the left hand of one and seemed to break something off it, then left. He was released on bail.

The FBI agent tracked Rohana back to his home in Bear, Delaware, where the young man admitted to having stashed the thumb in a desk drawer.

Another friend said Rohana posted a photo of "a finger" from a terra-cotta warrior on Snapchat a day after the party.

News of the theft provoked anger in China, where the terracotta warriors are national treasures and a major tourist attraction. "We express strong resentment and condemnation towards this theft and the destruction of our heritage".

The statue of a cavalryman was one of 10 on display from September 30 to March 4 at the Franklin Institute, along with other ancient artifacts including coins, gold pieces, jade and weapons.

The Franklin Institute has the utmost respect for the Terracotta Warriors and the rich Chinese cultural heritage they embody.

The Franklin Institute said in a statement that a security contractor failed to follow "standard closing procedures" on the night Rohana took the finger, behavior the museum called "deplorable".

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