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The Mona Lisa Stolen The Mona Lisa Stolen
by The Ovi Team
2017-08-21 11:38:34
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21st Aug. 1911: The Mona Lisa, the famous portrait by Leonardo da Vinci also called (La Gioconda) (painted between 1503 - 1506), was stolen today from the Louvre in Paris. The Painting was stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia an employee of the Louvre who believed Leonardo's painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian gallery. The Mona Lisa was recovered two years later when he tried to sell it to an Italian Gallery.

monaIn 1911 Vincenzo Peruggia perpetrated what has been described as the greatest art theft of the 20th century. The former Louvre worker hid inside the museum on Sunday, August 20, knowing that the museum would be closed the following day. Emerging from his hiding place on Monday morning, he wore one of the white artists' smocks that museum employees customarily wore and was indistinguishable from the other workers. When the Salon Carre where the Mona Lisa hung was empty, he lifted it from the wall and took it to an enclosed stairwell. There he removed the protective case and frame and concealed the painting (which Leonardo painted on wood) under his smock. He left the Louvre with it, passing a guard station which had been left unattended by a guard who had gone to obtain a pail of water.
 
Vincenzo hid the painting in his apartment in Paris. Supposedly, when police arrived to search his apartment and question him, they accepted his alibi that he had been working at a different location on the day of the theft.

After keeping the painting hidden in a trunk in his apartment for two years, Peruggia returned to Italy with it. He kept it in his apartment in Florence but grew impatient and was finally caught when he contacted Alfredo Geri, the owner of an art gallery in Florence, Italy. Geri's story conflicts with Peruggia's, but it was clear that Peruggia expected a reward for returning the painting to what he regarded as its "homeland." Geri called in Giovanni Poggi, director of the Uffizi Gallery, who authenticated the painting. Poggi and Geri, after taking the painting for "safekeeping," informed the police, who arrested Peruggia at his hotel.
 
After its theft, the painting was exhibited all over Italy with banner headlines rejoicing its return and then returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was released from jail after a short time and served in the Italian army during World War I. He got married, returned to France and opened a paint store. He died on September 2, 1947 in the town of Annemasse, France.

No definitive motive exists, however there are currently two theories.

Peruggia said he did it for a patriotic reason: he wanted to bring the painting back for display in Italy after it was stolen by Napoleon. Although perhaps sincere in his motive, Vincenzo may not have known that Leonardo da Vinci took this painting as a gift for Francis I when he moved to France to become a painter in his court.

Experts have also questioned the "patriotism" motive on the grounds that -- were patriotism the true motive -- Peruggia would have donated the painting to an Italian museum, rather than attempt to profit from its sale. However it is believed that the "friend" was the one who attempted to profit from the sale since Peruggia never divulged its secret for nearly two years.

Put on trial, the court agreed to some extent that Peruggia committed his crime for patriotic reasons and gave him a lenient sentence. He was sent to jail for one year and fifteen days, but was hailed as a great patriot in Italy and served only a few months in jail.
 
Another theory emerged later. The theft may have been encouraged or master-minded by Eduardo de Valfierno, a con-man who had commissioned the French art forger Yves Chaudron to make copies of the painting so he could sell them as the missing original. The copies would have gone up in value if the original was stolen. This theory is based entirely on an article by former Hearst journalist Karl Decker in The Saturday Evening Post in 1932. Decker claimed to have known "Valfierno" and heard the story from him in 1913, promising not to print it until he learned of Valfierno's death. There is no external confirmation for this tale.


    
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