The mysterious smile of the most enigmatic painting
The most famous painting is undoubtedly the Mona Lisa, also known as the Gioconda.
Leonardo Da Vinci created this masterpiece from 1503 to 1507 in Florence, but it soon found itself in the possession of France.
The work was bought by the French ruler Francis I and placed in his tower at Fontainebleau.
Later, it was found in the palaces of Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV and in the bed of Napoleon the Great.
Since 1804, the painting has been exhibited in the Louvre Museum, where it is one of the most cataloged and discussed works of art in the world.
At noon on August 22, 1911, the news of the theft of the unique painting shocked the French.
In the following days, the issue dominated the front pages of the world’s leading newspapers.
The revelation came at 11 a.m. when painter Louis Béroux, known for his replicas of the Gioconda that he sold to Museum visitors, noticed with surprise that the painting was missing from its place. He immediately notified the guard in charge, who nonchalantly replied that it might have been removed for maintenance.
This happened on Tuesday, after the previous day (August 21) the Louvre had remained closed due to the usual Monday holiday.
When it was discovered that the Mona Lisa painting was not in the conservatory, an alarm was raised. The doors of the Louvre Museum were immediately sealed, while France’s borders were closed, and the police took over the case, led by Inspector Louis Le Pen.
One of the first moves by the French government was to remove from his duties the director of the Louvre, Théophile Ohmol, who a few months ago had argued that the Mona Lisa was impossible to steal from the museum.
Not long after, Inspector Le Pen discovered the theft, discovering the painting’s frame under a staircase, within a short distance of the Gioconda’s position. With this fact in the back of his mind, it was necessary to discover the person or persons responsible for this daring theft.
His investigations focused on the low-wage museum employees who lived in financial need, the unethical art dealers of Paris, and the young avant-garde artists who opposed classical art.
On the other hand, Parisians thought that behind this daring theft might be some wealthy American industrialist, or perhaps it was Germany wishing to criticize its great rival. When the Louvre Museum reopens its doors on August 29, thousands of French people will pass through the empty space where the Gioconda once stood, and weep as if they have lost a loved one.
On September 7, 1911, an unexpected development surprised Parisians.
Police announced the arrest of acclaimed French-Polish poet Guillaume Apollinaire and up-and-coming Spanish painter Pablo Picasso on suspicion of theft. Although Picasso was released the same day due to lack of evidence, Apollinaire remained in custody for five days before his release was decided.
Despite the fact that the evidence against them was minimal, the media had already imposed the notion of guilt, “Apollinaire appears to be the leader of an international gang that seeks to unlock the jewels of our museums,” wrote the “Paris Journal” in September 13. Terrified, the poet managed to compose poetic verses in his cell, before he fell into a deep melancholy.
His short detention and the baseless charges brought against him adversely affected his excellent reputation.
Over the next two years, efforts to solve the case hit a dead end. Although the thieves were offered large sums of money by the state and private individuals in exchange for information, the Mona Lisa remained missing.
Many thought it was destroyed.
However, on November 29, 1913, the Italian gallerist Alfredo Gerri received a letter sent by post from Paris.
The sender, who went by the name Leonardo Vicenzo, revealed that he owned the Mona Lisa and urged them to get along.
Intending to return the painting to Italy, expecting a reward, he was creating a new chapter in the case.
Jerry had arranged a meeting with Vicenzo, which he had scheduled for December 10, at his gallery in Florence. Also present at the meeting that day was Giovanni Pozzi, the director of the city’s famous Uffizi art gallery, who appeared reticent about the story.
The next day, Vicenzo led the two men to the Tripoli-Italia hotel room. He, with decisive movements, opened a trunk and from a hidden place revealed the multidimensional painting.
The two men showed subdued surprise because they knew that many fake works by Gioconda were in circulation. For better or for worse, they had already notified the Carabinieri, and during the meeting the authorities attended the scene. Vicenzo was arrested and the case took a new turn.
During the interrogation, it was revealed that the true identity of the scapegoat Vicenzo was Vicenzo Perugia. He was 30 years old and came from Como. In an earlier period, he had worked as a carpenter at the Louvre.
When the painting was finally revealed to be the original, public opinion showed great sympathy for Perugia. His act was considered patriotic, as he aimed to return the painting to his country.
Public opinion, as well as the judges, had perceived his act as an attempt to bring the valuable painting back to his homeland.
Perugia was sentenced to a short prison term. During the court hearing, Perugia revealed how he committed the theft.
Disguised as a museum custodian, he plucked the Mona Lisa from its place, hiding it under his overalls (the painting measured 0.53 x 0.77 meters), and left the museum as if nothing had happened. His crystal lair was just a kilometer from the Louvre.
For a period of one month, the Mona Lisa remained in Italy, before returning to France. It was exhibited in the Uffizi Gallery and other important museums in Italy, attracting the admiring attention of millions of Italians.
Her mysterious smile drew impressions. On December 31, 1913, approximately 60,000 people met at the Milan railway station to welcome her.
He traveled in a specially guarded carriage of the Milan-Paris high-speed railway line. From January 4, 1914, it was re-installed in the Louvre, where it remains to this day, surrounding itself with unprecedented security measures.
I am Frederick Tuttle, who works in 247 News Agency as an author and mostly cover entertainment news. I have worked in this industry for 10 years and have gained a lot of experience. I am a very hard worker and always strive to get the best out of my work. I am also very passionate about my work and always try to keep up with the latest news and trends.