It was called the biggest art heist in history, in 1911- An employee of the museum left with the Mona Lisa hidden under his house painters smock. Vincenzo Peruggia noticing a large number of Italian paintings in the French national collection, assumed they were stolen by Napoleon. He wanted to pilfer the Mona Lisa and return to Italy because he thought it was the most beautiful. It was not returned until 1913 when he attempted to sell it to a collector.

Early on the morning of August 21st, 1911, a workman, Vincenzo Peruggia found himself alone in the Salon Carre at the Louvre. He left unnoticed with the Mona Lisa under his house painter smock.

Eduardo de Valfierno, an Argentine con man put Peruggia up to stealing the painting. He hired an art forger who made six copies of the stolen painting and sold it to unscrupulous collectors who thought they were getting the real thing. The deal made the equivalent of 67 million today for him. Peruggia kept it stored in the false bottom of a trunk until he naively offered it for sale to a Florence art dealer and was caught. (Quoted from: Joseph Harris, Smithsonian, May 1999)

December 30th, 1956, a Bolivian named Ugo Ungaza Villegas, stared at the Mona Lisa for awhile, then threw a rock at it, damaging a speck of pigment near her left elbow.

Mona Lisa is now protected by a formidable railing, bulletproof glass and will have her own room at the Louvre.

Mona Lisa Mania - 33535 Woodward Ave., Birmingham, MI 48009
Lido Gallery & Gifts
© 1999