An Irish tourist has been arrested after allegedly climbing onto a recently renovated statue in Brussels and causing thousands of Euro worth of damage.
Video of the incident shows a man climbing slowly onto the statue located outside the stock exchange in Brussels. The statue was renovated as part of a €90 million restoration project at the historic building, known as the Place de la Bourse.
The man can be seen leaning on the torch, causing it and parts of the arm holding it to fall off, prompting gasps from onlookers.
A young Irishman has been arrested in Brussels, Belgium, after he climbed on to a recently renovated statue outside the stock exchange on Sunday and caused part of it to fall off, according to local media. Report here: https://t.co/dyx9mL0EDO pic.twitter.com/nalE6cGMjc— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) September 13, 2023
Local media outlets report that the tourist was "clearly intoxicated" while trying to get his photograph taken on top of the statue on Sunday night, just one day after the building reopened.
An Irish tourist was arrested in a nearby fast-food restaurant sometime after the incident, according to local media. He was reportedly unaware that he had caused any damage to the statue.
"An Irish tourist climbed onto one of the statues at the Brussels Stock Exchange building," a Brussels Police spokeswoman said, according to Newstalk.
"Police arrived at the scene [and] a police report was drawn up against the tourist.
"When he wanted to get back down, he broke a piece of the statue."
Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports that the restoration of the statue cost €17,600.
Management at the Bourse building wants to recover the cost of necessary repairs from the person who damaged the statue, Het Nieuwsblad added.
The historic Bourse building includes a beer museum and a co-working space and recently underwent a massive restoration project. The newly renovated building opened on Saturday with a number of special events, with visitors encouraged to drink Belgian beer as part of the celebration.
Nel Van De Vannet, architect and CEO of the Brussels Stock Exchange Renovation Project, told RTÉ Morning Ireland on Thursday morning that the site is "symbolically important" and often used as a gathering place for both happy and sad times.
The incident has made her and her team "very, very sad and upset."
"For us, it's a bit of a sad moment to see now after these three years of restoration where we know the sculpture and time it took to restore it is now broken off after two days of opening," she said.
She added: "It will take probably two months again before we can see the whole lion with the hand intact again.
"Again, it's a long process."
When asked who will pay for the damage, Van De Vannet said: "Well, police intercepted him so I think it will be on his account but maybe I can do an appeal for a peaceful mediation and a payment for restoration."
She said the bill would be between €5,000 and €7,000.