American man steals a thumb of Chinese terracotta warrior after selfie

The Terracotta Army were discovered in China in 1974 More

U.S. federal authorities have said that 24-year old Michael Rohana has been charged with damaging the US$4.5m Chinese relic while attending a party held at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on December 21, reported China Plus.

Chinese authorities are calling for a heavy punishment for an American man charged with stealing a thumb from an ancient terracotta warrior statue on display at a museum in Pennsylvania.

The man left the room, but not before snapping off one of the statues' fingers, which he then placed in his coat's pocket.

"We ask that the United States severely punish the perpetrator", Wu said Monday, according to BBC News, which cited CCTV.

After museum staff noticed the damage on January 8, a special agent from the FBI's Art Crime Team tracked down Rohana in DE a few days later.

Rohana, 24, was charged last week in Philadelphia with theft of an artwork from a museum, concealment of the artwork and interstate transportation of stolen property. It carries an estimated value of $4.5m.

A spokeswoman for the Franklin Institute told the Associated Press that the statue will be repaired.

"As a result of this incident we have thoroughly reviewed our security protocol and procedures, and have taken appropriate action where needed", the statement said.

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Mr Rohana used a mobile phone as a flashlight and took a selfie with one of the warriors, according to Chinese state media Xinhua quoting the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was released on bail. They are considered one of China's most important archeological finds.

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

China's official news agency Xinhua reported Rohana admitted to authorities he had the thumb piece in a desk drawer.

When agents showed up at Rohana's home where he lives with his parents in Bear, Del. on January 13, he quickly showed them to the thumb's hiding place: his drawer.

Although the man is now booked into county jail, the Chinese authorities are demanding compensation for the damage and asked that the perpetrator be severely punished for his deed.

Wu also "strongly condemned" the Franklin Institute for not looking after the statues, according to CCTV.

An external security contractor did not follow "standard closing procedures" on the night of the party, Santo said last week. The Philadelphia exhibition runs until March 4.

Thousands of the life-size statues, each unique, were buried with models of horses, chariots and weapons after the emperor's death in 210 B.C. The tomb and its contents were not discovered until farmers unearthed some of them in 1974.

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