American man steals a thumb of Chinese terracotta warrior after selfie

Ten statues are on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia More

Ten statues are on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia More

Reports said that Michael Rohana, 24, from DE, attended an "ugly Christmas jumper party" at the institute on December 21 previous year on his way into the special exhibit, Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor.

The Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center, which loaned 10 of the terra-cotta sculptures to the American museum, said it was the first such incident in more than four decades of organizing overseas exhibitions.

The FBI traced the item back to Rohana after the Philadelphia museum noticed it was missing on January 8.

"We call on the United States side to severely punish the person who committed such a damaging act of vandalism and theft of humanity's cultural heritage", the director of the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relic Exchange Centre told the Beijing Youth Daily Sunday.

Investigators connected him with the crime after Rohana left fingerprints at the scene, according to an affidavit filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation cited by The Inquirer. "We express strong resentment and condemnation towards this theft and the destruction of our heritage".

He was arrested for theft of a major artwork from a museum, concealment of a major stolen artwork, and the interstate transportation of stolen property, but released on a US$15,000 bail, according to court documents seen by AFP.

10 such warriors were rented for an exhibition in the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia.

He then snapped off the statue's left thumb. The terracota army has since become one of China's greatest tourist attractions.

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"The terracotta warriors are national treasures".

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that Rohana, who is from DE, admitted hiding it in his desk drawer.

He admitted that he'd kept the piece of pollex in a desk drawer.

Wu said the center would send two experts to Franklin to check the damage and fix the thumb - and that there'd be a claim for compensation.

They were discovered in China's Xi'an city in 1974 by a group of Chinese farmers.

Stefanie Santo, a spokeswoman for the institute, said Monday that the organization has the "utmost respect" for the statues as well as "the rich Chinese cultural heritage they embody".

An external security contractor did not follow "standard closing procedures" on the night of the party, Santo said last week.

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