A Daring Heist That Transformed a Masterpiece into a Global Sensation
Although it was a rather simple operation, the “Mona Lisa” robbery has been dubbed the greatest art crime of the 20th century. Three Italian handymen who had covered the now-famous Leonardo da Vinci painting with a blanket removed it from the Louvre in Paris, France, early on August 21, 1911. The guys, one of whom was Vincenzo Peruggia, a former employee of the museum, are thought to have spent the night undercover in a supply closet before taking the artwork, its frame, and its protective glass case from the wall during the Monday morning closure of the museum. It took 28 hours for someone to eventually discover the empty space on the wall after no one had at first realized the painting had vanished. The “Mona Lisa,” which is currently regarded as the most famous painting in the world, was not well-known outside of the art community prior to going missing. Following the theft, pictures of the Renaissance masterwork were published in newspapers all over the world, making it permanently famous. The investigation went wrong, and for two years the picture was gone; at one time, Pablo Picasso, the artist, was even named as a suspect. When Peruggia eventually made an attempt to sell the image in 1913, she was arrested and spent some time in jail. When the “Mona Lisa” was eventually found in Florence, it was brought back to the Louvre and is currently on display there.