The theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has its centenary this year. The painting was stolen on August 21, 1911. It was one of the most famous paintings in the world at the time of the theft. The disappearance enhanced its mystery making it the most talked about work of art in the world. It was taken by Vincenzo Peruggia, a Louvre employee who stole it by walking into the museum during opening hours. He crossed over to the Salon Carré, where the Mona Lisa was on display, removing it from the four iron wall pegs. Peruggi hid the painting in a broom closet and walked out of the building, after the museum had closed, with it hidden under his coat. The painting left a gap between Correggio’s Mystical Marriage and Titian’s Allegory of Alfonso d’Avalos, which went unnoticed until the next morning.
On discovery of the missing painting, The museum was closed and slowly let out the visitors. They then continued the search.It was finally determined that the Mona Lisa had been stolen.The Louvre was closed for an entire week to aid the investigation. When it was reopened, a line of people had come to solemnly stare at the empty space on the wall, where the Mona Lisa had once hung. An anonymous visitor left a bouquet of flowers. The French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be “burnt down,” came under suspicion; he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire tried to implicate his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.
Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed Leonardo’s painting should be returned to Italy to an Italian museum. It is also thought that he may have been motivated by a friend who sold copies of the painting, which increased in value after the theft of the original. The painting was kept in his apartment for two years, after which he grew impatient and was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The painting was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy and only served six months in jail for the crime.
Leonardo Da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504 in Florence. It has survived theft ,acid attacks and a rock and mug being thrown at the masterpiece. The painting is now kept under bullet proof glass in a secure part of the Louvre. A number of lectures are planned to mark 100 years, since the disappearance.