Who, how and when stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre?

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Mona Lisa Theft

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Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, is probably the most famous painting in the world.

This fabulous object was stolen from the Louvre in 1911, something that created a media sensation.

Who stole it and how?

  • Italian Vincenzo Perugia moved to Paris in 1908 and worked at the Louvre for a time.
  • The former Louvre employee, entered the museum on Monday, August 21 in 1911 early in the morning, through the door where the other Louvre workers were entering. He said he wore one of the white smocks that museum employees customarily wore and was indistinguishable from the other workers.
  • He went to the gallery and removed the Mona Lisa from its frame and walked unobtrusively out with the painting under his smock, attracting no attention.
  • Peruggia hid the painting in his apartment in Paris.
  • After keeping the painting hidden in a trunk in his apartment for two years, Peruggia returned to Italy and was finally caught when he contacted Alfredo Geri, the owner of an art gallery in Florence, who called the police.
  • Peruggia was arrested at his hotel and the painting returned to the Louvre in 1913.

While the painting was famous before the theft, the notoriety it received from the newspaper headlines and the large scale police investigation helped the artwork become one of the best known in the world.