The Man Who Stole The Most Expensive Painting In The World | The Mona Lisa

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The Man Who Stole The Most Expensive Painting In The World | The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa (Italian: Monna Lisa or La Gioconda, French: La Joconde) is a half-length portrait painting by the famous Italian Renaissance artist known as Leonardo da Vinci. This painting has been described as “the best known, the most written about, the most visited, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the entire world”. It is also the most expensive painting in the world.

Even till this day, the Mona Lisa is the most valuable paintings on Earth. It entered the Guinness World Record in 1962 for the highest ever known insurance valuation in history, the figures stood at a staggering $100 million at the time. By modern valuation in this year 2018, that’s about $800 million!

The painting is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the lovely wife of Francesco del Giocondo, and is in oil work on a white Lombardy poplar panel. Experts believe it was painted sometime between 1503 and 1506 It was subsequently acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the wholesome property of the French Republic, and was put on permanent display on the walls of the famous Louvre Museum in Paris in 1797.

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The Most Expensive Painting In The World Is Stolen: The Mona Lisa

 For 200 years till the year 1911, three years before the first World War broke out, the greed of man was still young and thieves were not that many. At that time, just like any other painting,  the most valuable painting in the world, the Mona Lisa, was simply hung on the walls of the Louvre Museum, or Musée du Louvre as its called in French. People would come in to look at the painting just like any other and it was in no way the most spectacular of its time.

But all that changed in 1911 when a former employee of the museum by the Italian name of Vincenzo Perugia walked right into the gallery before opening time one morning on August 21, noticed the room was completely empty, took the Mona Lisa down from the wall, tucked it under his arm and walked right out of the gallery. He actually got out of the Louvre museum with it stuck under a painting smock.

The Man Who Stole The Most Expensive Painting In The World | The Mona Lisa

It took about a whole day, but when finally, the loss of the painting was noticed, the police were called in right away, after all, it was national property, and an investigation began.

For two full years, the whereabouts of the Italian masterpiece remained a mystery, while French detectives  combing high and low as they made various wild guesses that lead nowhere;(the painting had been stolen by the clever Germans.  By evil geniuses. By anarchists. By lunatics, everyone) Some of the people who actually got arrested included the country’s actually top art critic, Guillame Apollinaire, but he was later set free.

The Man Who Stole The Most Expensive Painting In The World | The Mona Lisa

All was believed to be lost until, out of the blue in 1913, the very year before the First World War, an Italian art dealer in Florence got a call from a man calling himself “Leonardo” and claiming to have the Mona Lisa in his possession. All this man wanted was to see the painting hang in one of the most famous Italian museum, the Uffizi.

The art dealer who could scarcely believe that the thief of the most sought-after painting in the world could be so reckless tipped off the Italian police and then agreed to meet this strange Leonardo in a hotel room in Milan.

The Man Who Stole The Most Expensive Painting In The World | The Mona Lisa

At the meeting, the unsuspecting ‘Leonardo’ opened his suitcase, emptied out his clothes and underwear, opened up a false bottom down in the case and out came the Mona Lisa, all clean and neat. The police swooped in at once and the thief was immediately arrested.

Subsequent investigations showed that Perugia was no criminal minded theif trying to make a fortune from his endeavours but a sentimental Italian nationalist who had stolen the painting on impulse and simply wanted to see it returned to its true land of origin – Italy from where it was purchased by King Francis I of France in the 1530s.

The Man Who Stole The Most Expensive Painting In The World | The Mona Lisa

The recovery of the painting was greeted with exultation in France, and eventually, the famed painting was safely shipped to its home in the Louvre. Over back in Italy, however, the one thief Peruggia was praised by the Italians as a ture patriotic hero of the land and served far less than a year in prison.

Today, a thick pane of transparent bullet-proof security glass keeps art lovers a good distance away from the most famous painting in the world, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, Wife of Francesco Giacondo,” known in French as “La Joconde” and English as the “Mona Lisa.”

You can go to the Museum and look but you can never touch this painting.

The Man Who Stole The Most Expensive Painting In The World | The Mona Lisa

 

In Conclusion

So what lesson does this teach us? If you wanna steal, make it big and steal for national reasons. This way if you are caught, you can certainly get away with it!

The Man Who Stole The Most Expensive Painting In The World | The Mona Lisa

 

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