What began as an Ugly Sweater Party has turned into an global incident.
Reports said that Michael Rohana, 24, from DE, attended an "ugly Christmas jumper party" at the institute on December 21 past year on his way into the special exhibit, Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor.
The terracotta warriors were built for the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China's first emperor.
During the event, Rohana and a few of his friends entered the closed off terracotta warrior exhibit, and after his friends left, Rohana took a selfie with one of the statues, according to surveillance footage and court documents.
According to Chinese state media, museum staff noticed the missing thumb on 8 January and traced it to Rohana, who apparently admitted to keeping it in his desk drawer. "We have lodged a serious protest with them".
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The uproar comes a week after the Inquirer and Daily News reported that federal agents arrested 24-year-old Michael Rohana of DE on suspicion of breaking off and stealing a thumb of The Cavalryman, one of the statues on display as part of the institute's "Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor" exhibit.
He accused the Philadelphia museum of being "careless", and "strongly condemned" officials for letting the statue be defiled, the BBC reported. For his deed, the 24-year-old was charged with concealment of major artwork and theft. He was arrested on art theft charges and later released on bail. They are considered one of China's most important archeological finds.
He then put his hand on the left hand of the statue and appeared to break something off from it.
Rohana allegedly attended the party with five friends, one of whom told investigators she heard the suspect mention the thumb on the ride home, according to USA Today.
News of Rohana's alleged assault on the 210 B.C. -era statue has angered China, which reveres the thousands of terra-cotta warrior statues as treasured cultural artifacts. "We express strong resentment and condemnation towards this theft and the destruction of our heritage".
China loaned the life-sized figures - which farmers discovered in the mid-1970s - to the museum for an exhibit running from late September until March 4.