1911 – The “Mona Lisa” is stolen

August 21, 2022

Vincenzo Peruggia was an Italian museum worker and art thief. He is most famous for stealing the Mona Lisa on August 21, 1911. The police theory was that Peruggia hid inside the museum the previous day, knowing the museum would be closed the next day.

It's not precisely clear why Vincenzo Peruggia stole the Mona Lisa. One theory is that mastermind Italian con Eduardo de Valfierno intended to make copies to sell as the missing original Mona Lisa.

Another theory was that Peruggia returned the painting to the Louvre Museum after Napoleon stole it. At the time, Napoleon was notorious for stealing many Italian artworks during the Napoleonic wars.

After his arrest, he claimed that he did it for patriotic reasons after suspecting that Napoleon, another famous art thief, would steal it. The court was sympathetic and gave him a shortened sentence of one year and 15 days.

Whatever the reason, Peruggia's notoriety earned him a place in history as a famous art thief. The Mona Lisa was a gift to King Francis I from Leonardo da Vinci during the 16th Century; this was 250 years before Napoleon's birth.

Quick Facts:

  • Four iron pegs secured the Mona Lisa to the wall inside the Salon Carré.

  • Vincenzo hid the Mona Lisa in his apartment in Paris.

  • Peruggia returned to Italy with the painting and kept it in his apartment in Florence for some time.

  • Peruggia contacted Mario Fratelli, an art gallery owner in Florence, and soon after, he was caught.

  • After the painting's recovery, Giovanni Poggi, the director of the Uffizi Gallery, authenticated it.

  • The painting was finally returned to the Louvre in 1913 after exhibitions all over Italy.

  • Although the painting was already famous, the notoriety from the newspaper headlines and the massive search helped it gain considerable public interest.

2 Comments

  1. Altha Holt

    Replicas In color are very rare. You seldom ever see any type image of the Mona Lisa. People speak of this painting many not understanding the wondering beauty incurred by color complex and linage. To have an idea you need to see at least a reasonable image

    Reply
  2. Jonas Higgs

    Wow just another great back story. News and I donation that doesn’t make you cringe. Instead gives you some fun facts about actual events free of opinion.
    That story if printed by MSM would have included so much option from his punishment to speculation on his “real” intent and then paragraphs on Napoleon.

    Reply

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