On this day in 1911, probably the most famous work of art in the world…the Mona Lisa…was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. A visiting artist was the first to notice the blank spot on the wall where the DaVinci masterpiece had hung for the last five years, and casually mentioned it to the guards. The guards were initially unconcerned, assuming that the painting had been removed for photographs…it was late in the afternoon before the museum realized it had been robbed. The investigation was a fruitless affair…French Authorities brought in a radical poet who once called for the Louvre to be Burnt to the ground…the poet Guillaume Appolinaire denied the crime, but implicated an acquaintance…a young artist named Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning. The investigation ran out of gas, and the Louvre officials had given up, and assumed the painting was lost forever. It was two years later when it turned up. Apparently, another Louvre Employee named Vincenzo Peruggia had taken the painting off the wall, hid it in a broom closet until closing time, and then just walked out with the Mona Lisa under his coat. He’d kept it in his apartment for two years, and then decided to try to sell it…not to one of the “Private Collectors” we keep hearing about, but to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Oddly enough, they’d already been notified that the painting was missing, and Peruggia was finally arrested. Peruggia’s motive was patriotic…he felt that the Italian Art Treasure had no business being kept forever in a French Museum. The Italian Courts apparently agreed, because he only served six months on the charge of stealing the Mona Lisa. The painting was eventually returned to the Louvre…AFTER it made an unauthorized exhibition tour in Museums all over Italy. The Mona Lisa is pretty well locked down at the Louvre today. It seems that window of opportunity has passed.
Album Notes: Grateful Acknowledgments to Mike Koenig, and Drum 8. Some Musical Motifs Written and Performed by Kevin McLeod, Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 3.0″ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ and used here by permission, and with appreciation and thanks. Some audio may be used under the Fair Use Doctrine