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The Purloined Thumb!

April 24, 2019

As one of China’s most prized relics, the Chinese government spent years reviewing the Franklin Institute’s security before agreeing to loan 10 life-sized terracotta soldiers dating back 2000 years.  Unfortunately, the institute dropped the ball when they threw an “Ugly Sweater” Christmas party on site two years ago, and a boozed-up guest wandered off into the museum.  After snapping a selfie with the small army, the 24-year-old party goer, Mr. Rohana, grabbed the hand of one of the soldiers, breaking off his thumb.  For the next few weeks, his anxiety was at an all-time high, with the thumb stashed away in his bedroom desk drawer… that was until the FBI knocked on his front door and he handed over the thumb.

Rohana was indicted on counts of theft and concealment of an object of cultural heritage, crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison, each. During the court hearing, both sides pleaded their case bringing several “experts” to the stand.  One expert appraised the thumb at most to be $500, another at over $5,000 and the last at $150,000.  The vast discrepancy in the appraisals by the “experts” left the jury unable to agree whether the trial they heard fit the criteria of the federal theft statute.

The judge declared a mistrial and the fate of Mr. Rohana and the thumb are still up in the air…for now.

Source: How an ancient thumb and drunken mistake at a Philly museum confounded the international art world