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The bust exhibited some unusual properties. It had an inner heat source that caused condensation to leak through a crack in its base. It would cause dizziness and fatigue in anyone who had prolonged direct contact with it and could cause first-degree burns.
The bust was originally on display at the Palermo museum in Rome. but was then moved to the University of Rome to be studied by Doctor Liz Shaw. Colonel Chaudhry of UNIT sent the Fifth Doctor to assist, suspecting alien involvement.
A thief attempted to steal the bust, and dropped it during a chase, breaking off its nose.
As the Doctor and Liz prepared to examine the bust more closely, it started talking to the museum caretaker, Claudio Terrizzi, asking him to bring it to safety. As he carried it, he lost consciousness in Liz' science lab. The heat in the bust caused a fire that killed Claudio and destroyed much of the lab. The Doctor and Liz placed the bust in a bucket of liquid nitrogen.