It can seem like tourists never know where they’re going, what they’re doing, or who they even are half the time. And sometimes, they push their curiosity too far, making a mess considerably beyond repair.
These tourists took their clumsy inquisitiveness as far as they possibly could, essentially making their mark on history in the most destructive ways possible. They say curiosity killed the cat, but it can apparently get tourists into some seriously awkward spots as well.
1. When a 12-year-old Taiwanese boy embarrassingly tripped at a Taipei museum, disaster struck. He fell into a 350-year-old oil painting, punching a hole in it — and this was no cheap work of art!
The painting, entitled “Flowers” by Italian painter Paolo Porpora, was estimated to cost a cringe-inducing $1.5 million. But don’t fret. The exhibition’s coordinator, Sun Chi-hsuan, disclosed that the boy was super apologetic, and the painting was insured.
2. Although Rome’s Colosseum is literally ruins, we can’t blame all of the tourists for its condition, considering the Italian landmark is actually ancient… but we can blame a few of them for its less-than-stellar state.
Two Brazilian dudes thought it would be a cute idea to hop the Colosseum’s gate at the crack of dawn and spray paint the walls! Thankfully, both men were arrested. Enough battles have been fought at the Colosseum; authorities don’t need anymore!
3. In 2007, Nick Flynn tripped on his loose shoelaces and fell down a flight of stairs at Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam museum… directly into a display of inanely prized 17th century Qing dynasty vases, demolishing three of them. Oopsie.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Although Nick wasn’t charged with anything, despite the ridiculous $800,000 worth of damage, authorities wondered if the “accident” wasn’t really an accident: he was arrested and banned from a separate museum. Coincidence? Hmmm.
4. We all know what the Mile High Club is, and it almost always involves a cramped airplane bathroom. So is there a club for gettin’ down 455 feet up… on the top of the Great Pyramid of Giza? Well, one couple tried to start one!
Laughably, Egyptian authorities investigated Danish photographer Andreas Hvid after he posted a super NSFW photo of himself and a woman in a telling position atop the pyramid. This was not the photo.
Although he claimed the racy photo was fake, he did admit to scaling the monument, which is also forbidden. Way to give the conservative Egyptians a headache-and-a-half.
Portal de Turismo
5. One family visited a UK monastery-turned-museum, the Prittlewell Priory, with a mission for mayhem that would earn them some serious internet notoriety…
Cottrell & Vermeulen
They placed their baby in an 800-year-old sandstone coffin, obviously ignoring all museum barriers, just to snap a cool pic. And yes, they, of course, damaged the artifact. The destruction wasn’t awful, but the disrespect stung just the same.
6. Vladimir Umanets must have felt like he had a message of great importance to share with the world because he sure did go big when it came to spreading the good news…
In 2012, Umanets spray-painted a note, in black might we add, on one of abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko’s works at London’s Tate Modern gallery. The self-promotional scheme landed Umanets in prison for two years.
7. An anonymous 24-year-old man decided to test his luck by attempting a selfie adjacent to the 126-year-old statue of Dom Sebastiao, a highly honored Portuguese ruler. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly a picture-perfect moment.
Sure enough, according to Fox News, he lost his balance and caused the prized statue to take a nose-dive to the concrete ground, crumbling into pieces.
The furious “Infraestruturas de Portugal” planned to press charges on the man. It’s been said that Dom Sebastiao’s spirit will return to Portugal, riding a white horse, to reclaim his throne in a time of need… and maybe get revenge.
8. When in a foreign place, taking home a piece of culture, usually in the form of a piece of art or an accessory, makes you feel worldly. Unfortunately, a woman’s experience in a southwest Chinese jewelry store was less than enriching.
After trying on a jade bracelet, she was notified that the price of the piece was $44,000. Her frantic attempt to remove the bracelet only led to its tragic demise. Watching the pieces break in half caused the woman to literally faint in the shop.
9. Yellowstone National Park is full of Mother Nature’s treasures. You’d think that people would let those remain sacred to the land, but not everyone does. In this case, these tourists had good intentions, but poor judgment.
Tourists stole a baby bison they believed was freezing. They drove the baby animal to the closest ranger station in a pursuit to save it. Of course, it’s commonly known that bison are equipped to handle the cold winter weather, just not to these tourists.
Unfortunately, the calf was unable to be brought back to its family because of the human interaction it endured, so the baby was euthanized. A park ranger said: “The well-being of these animals depends on visitors exercising good judgment.”
10. While visiting the International Arts Center Main Avenue in Yekaterinburg, Russia, a group of women tried to take a selfie in front of an art display by renowned artists Francisco Goya and Salvador Dalí.
The women proceeded to knock down an entire wall of art in the process! The Russian news agency, TASS, reported that “Goya’s work had its frame and glass broken. As far as Dalí’s artwork is concerned, apart from shattered frame and protective glass, it also suffered damage to the picture itself.”
Luckily for the gals, the Yekaterinburg police refused to open a criminal case against them, as reported by CNN. The question that still remains, however, is: did they get the picture?
While some artwork must be protected like nothing else, other pieces were made to be destroyed. On October 5th, 2018, Sotheby’s in London was busy preparing for an auction. This itself was nothing remarkable. After all, that was their business. But the auction that day was special…
Sotheby’s are the experts when it comes to selling priceless works of art. They have been doing it for hundreds of years, but this day was going to be particularly special and the beginning of a new chapter.
They were auctioning off a rare piece by today’s most relevant street artist: Banksy. This is one artist who probably never expected to find his work being sold off to a wealthy bidder at a private auction house.
Since the 1990s, he has made a name for himself with works that subvert artistic conventions and skewer various aspects of society. Chances are you’ve seen his work already even if you don’t know it.
Flickr / Ganzelka
Almost nobody knows who Banksy is. His real identity is a carefully guarded secret that likely will never come to light. You would think that would be something that would hamper his rising celebrity, but that’s not the case.
And even though his anonymity prevents him from doing interviews or having a social media presence, it certainly adds to his allure. Countless articles have been written about him, and even a documentary was about his work.
Many theorists name Bristol artist Robin Cunningham as the likeliest candidate for Banksy, but all the dots still don’t connect. It’s quite possible, in fact, that ‘Banksy’ may be multiple people collaborating under a single name.
Banksy is most famous for his graffiti — a copy of which was going on sale at Sotheby’s. His clever pieces go far beyond tagging his name on a brick wall. Instead, they have a biting visual message.
Flickr / Laura Munday
His minimalist works often blend in seamlessly with the urban landscape. In fact, that’s what makes them so darn compelling. They stop you in your tracks and make you look twice.
Banksy has the unique ability to transform any ordinary object into politically charged art. Sometimes he accomplishes this feat with just a few words…
So it’s no surprise that so many collectors were chomping at the bit to buy their very own Banksy. They hungrily eyed the prize as the bids climbed up to one million dollars and beyond.
These high rollers were competing to get their hands on one of Banksy’s most famous murals, Balloon Girl. Many critics consider it to be among the greatest works of art in the United Kingdom.
But this version of Balloon Girl had one feature that the original lacked. Inside the frame, Banksy secretly lined the bottom of the painting with motorized blades. What was he planning?
Well, the exact instant the painting sold — with a final price tag of $1.4 million — the booby-trapped frame shredded the painting to pieces. Nobody in attendance could wrap their minds around what had just occurred. What kind of artist would destroy his own work?
Instagram / Banksy
Just because the painting is in tatters, however, doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Like so many other famous works of art, a little bit of damage might not be as damaging to the value as you might think!
Art seller Steve Lazarides, one of the few individuals in Banksy’s inner circle, suggested that the shredded version of Balloon Girl may even be worth more than the original.
The Art Newspaper
Though some members of the art community criticized the move as a cruel prank, others are now calling it one of Banksy’s greatest demonstrations ever. Perhaps only one other stunt could rival its originality and shock value…
Banksy made headlines around the world in 2015 by curating the Dismaland installation. The site utilized dozens of pieces to construct a ‘sinister twist’ on the Disney franchise and theme parks in general.
Dismaland welcomed over 150,000 in its temporary run. Guests could enjoy — or at least tolerate — attractions such as a rundown princess castle, a museum of dangerous objects, and purposely unfair games like ‘topple the anvil with a ping pong ball.’
It’s clear that when it comes to art Banksy isn’t content to let the status quo stand. From bizarre theme parks staffed by strange characters like the ones below to destroying his own art, he’s always looking to up the ante.