Theft and Vandalism of the Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci started painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 in Florence, Italy. In 1516 Leonardo was invited to work for King Francois I. This move ignited the fire that was the war over the homeplace of the Mona Lisa. When he moved to France, the Mona Lisa was still not complete. When da Vinci died, the Mona Lisa was given to his student, Salai. King Francois bought this painting for a fair price at the time, and held onto the painting until Louis XIV came into power. The painting lived in the Palace of Versailles for a while until it was moved to the Louvre during the French Revolution. At this point the painting was famous, but in history drama amplifies art. The painting became exponentially more well known when it was stolen from the Louvre on August 21, 1911. It was discovered missing the next morning when a visitor was on his way to view the painting and found this instead. The visitor assumed it was being photographed, and thought nothing of it until he checked with the photographers. The Louvre was closed for an entire week for investigation.
Two years later…Picasso?
Guillaume Apollinaire was a poet who had once called for the Louvre to be “burnt down”. Once he was taken into questioning for the conjecture, he implicated his friend Picasso. Pablo, Picasso.
They were both eventually let go and crossed of the suspect list. But how exciting is it that these two huge figureheads for their own art movements had a confrontation over 400 years. For the next two years most hope for relocating the painting had been lost. It had been 2 years since the painting was stolen and no new leads had surfaced.
On the night of August the 21st, 1911
Vincenzo Peruggia, a Louvre employee, hides in one of the many broom closets of a great palace. After the museum had closed, Mr. Peruggia takes the painting under his coat, and briskly walks away under the cover of night. Peruggia was a nationalist from Italy. He believed that the painting rightfully belonged to Italy. He had other motives too. His friend made multiple copies made and while the painting was missing, the value of these increased a great deal. Vincenzo Peruggia was caught when tried to sell it to a Gallery in Florence. The painting was quickly recognized as the original, exhibited throughout Italy with the Louvre’s permission, and then returned to it’s home on the old french wall in 1913. Peruggia was celebrated as a hero for Italy and only served a 6 month prison sentence.
Other acts of vandalism
1956 was a hard year for the lady. The lower portion of the painting was damaged when acid was thrown onto it. Later that same year, someone threw a rock at the painting. A small speck was lost on the lady’s elbow. This was repaired later. After these incidents bulletproof glass was installed. Protecting it from two other attempts to vandalize the painting, the last one was as recent as 2009. About 6 million people view the painting at the Louvre every year.