A historic statue outside the Brussels Stock Exchange was damaged on Sunday evening after a drunken Irish tourist climbed on it to take a picture.
A major three-year restoration project to revamp the 150-year-old building had just been completed the day before, Belgium media reported. The restoration work cost 90 million euros, or about C$130 million.
The statue that was damaged depicted a lion and a man holding a torch, one of two lion statues that guard the entrance to the stock exchange.
Video of the incident was shared widely on social media, showing the Irish tourist sitting on the back of the lion statue. As he tries to get off the lion’s back, he grabs the arm of the man holding the torch and appears to put all of his weight on it.
The torch then snaps off and the tourist walks away.
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
Police were notified about the incident and tracked the Irishman down to a nearby fast food restaurant.
Brussels police told Insider that the man was briefly detained and will face criminal charges. Police did not identify the tourist by name.
The statue will now have to be restored again. Management for the building are hoping to recover the cost of the repair from the tourist, to the tune of 17,600 euros, about C$25,000, Het Nieuwsblad reports.
“The repairs are going to cost a lot of money because the work will have to be done by real craftsmen,” said the project manager for the restoration, Nel Vandevennet. “It is listed heritage and there will be follow-up from the monuments and landscapes agency of the Brussels region.”
“We would like to carry out the repairs quickly, but it will surely take a few weeks or even months,” Vandevennet told VRT News.
“The whole building has only just been restored to its former glory, including the two lions which were in a bad way. We thought the sculptures would enjoy greater respect. We just think it’s very sad this happened.”
The Brussels Stock Exchange was founded by decree of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801, though the building wasn’t erected until 1873, designed by architect Léon Suys.
In 2000, the stock exchange merged with the Paris and Amsterdam stock exchanges to form Euronext, a pan-European exchange. In 2015, the company moved out of the historic stock exchange building in Brussels.
Since then, the building has been used to house temporary exhibits until renovations began in 2020 to restore the building and re-open it as a museum about Belgian beer.
Belgian Beer World opened inside the stock exchange building on Saturday offering 400 different kinds of beer on the menu.
The day after the opening was when the drunken tourist damaged the statue. It’s unclear if he had visited Belgian Beer World.
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