Michelangelo “David” / hammer
(In 1991, 47-year-old Piero Cannata, an unemployed Italian, managing to smuggle a hammer into Florence’s Galleria dell'Accademia Museum and attack the famous sculpture, breaking a toe on the left foot. The damage was reparable, as all the fragments from the shattered toe had been collected.
“It was Veronese’s beautiful Nani who asked me to hit the David,” he later claimed, apparently referring to a Venetian woman who had modeled for the 16th-century painter.
Cannata was found to be of unsound mind and spent a brief time in a mental hospital. Upon his release, he gained employment as a museum guide, providing tours of Tuscany’s artistic masterpieces - including David.
He was later found responsible for other acts of vandalism, including:
a) In 1993, police caught him defacing a fresco by the Renaissance master Filippo Lippi in Prato cathedral.
b) Also in 1993, he took a knife to “The Adoration of the Shepherds Before Baby Jesus” by the 16th-century artist Michele di Raffaello della Colombe, on view in the basilica of Santa Maria delle Carceri. At that time, he told police that “a force inside me urged me to do it.”
c) In 1999, he was sent back to a psychiatric hospital after using a marker to scribble on a Jackson Pollock painting then on view in Rome. Upon his arrest, he explained he had actually been looking to vandalize a work by the Italian abstract artist Piero Manzoni, “but I found an equally ugly one and damaged that instead.”
d) In 2005, he spray painted a black “x” on a plaque commemorating the burning to death of the 15th-century preacher and reformer Girolamo Savonarola, set into the paving of Piazza della Signoria.)