Mona Lisa - Pixabay
CAIRO - 21 August 2017: Monday, August 21 marks the 104th anniversary of Mona Lisa’s theft by Italian handyman Vincenzo Peruggia in 1911.
In 1911, the Mona Lisa was not as famous as it is today because it was just a small and unassuming portrait in the Louvre. Yet, after Peruggia had stolen it, it became one of the world’s most famous masterpieces because of the press coverage the theft had generated.
Peruggia was hired by the Louvre to make a protective glass cases for some famous works including the Mona Lisa. Benefiting of that opportunity, after hiding all night in a closet, he was able to steal the painting and leave the museum unnoticed.
The Louvre at that time was under maintenance, hence the theft of Mona Lisa was not as visible as it was thought to have been removed to be cleaned. It took 24 hours before its theft was noted.
Policemen printed off around 6,500 copies for distribution in the streets of Paris after its disappearance and the press coverage made sure that many people that never heard or saw the Mona Lisa before, became aware of Leonardo da Vinci’s stolen painting.
Policemen tried to recognize and arrest the thief who was at the time thought to be painter Pablo Picasso.
The Mona Lisa was not recovered until two years later when a Florentine dealer called Alfred Geri, the Director of the Uffizi gallery in Florence informed the police of the place of the Mona Lisa as the thief Peruggia went to Florence, Italy in 1913 with the intention to sell it to Geri. Peruggia sent Geri a letter under the name of “Leornardo,” telling him he had the Mona Lisa.
Peruggia who claimed to have stolen it in order to return it to its native Italy, was arrested and sentenced to seven months in jail.
Peruggia hid it in a cupboard, then under a stove in the kitchen, and finally in the false-bottomed trunk, according to The Guardian.
“The Mona Lisa's smile is only enigmatic because of Leonardo's sfumato technique – that smokey, smudgy blur where you can't see how the smile ends at each corner, so that it simply tails away, unresolved, literally open-ended,” stated The Guardian.