Monday, April 20, 2009

Theft of the Mona Lisa

Theft of the Mona Lisa
In 1911, Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of a noblewoman, titled Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, sometimes titled La Gioconda, and known popularly as the Mona Lisa, was stolen from its place in the Louvre in Paris.

The event caused an enormous stir, eclipsing for a time talk of an impending war, and was the focus of much attention worldwide; until the crime was apparently solved 28 months later with the apprehension of the thief and the return of the famous painting to its former space.

When I say “apparently solved”, I don’t mean to imply that the painting returned was not the original, that was established without doubt; but Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, in their book The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection, suggest that there was more to the theft than was apparent, and that the true crime went unsolved.

Stealing Mona Lisa is excerpted on the Vanity Fair site and makes for an interesting read.

If it’s true, I only have this to say about the real “victims” of the crime — it couldn’t have happened to a more appropriate bunch of selfish creeps.

[Via Kottke.org]

4 thoughts on “Theft of the Mona Lisa

  1. Mario

    I’ve visited the Louvre a couple of months ago and I remember reading a couple of articles about the robbery. None of them as complete as this. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Michael

    If you’re quick, you can catch a radio adaptation of R.A.Scotti’s book about the theft on BBC Radio 4’s Listen Again service.
    Here’s the link to the first episode:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jr4tp

    Scotti makes the delightful point that the theft of the Gioconda / Mona Lisa unwittingly gave birth to the first nihilist exhibition, when thousands of people turned up at the Louvre to stare at nothing. Brilliant!

  3. Charley Parker Post author

    “…the theft of the Gioconda / Mona Lisa unwittingly gave birth to the first nihilist exhibition, when thousands of people turned up at the Louvre to stare at nothing. ”

    I love it! Thanks, Michael!

  4. Roberto Bobrow

    Please, read the final statement of the well written article:
    “The Decker account is the sole source for the existence of Valfierno and this version of the theft of the Mona Lisa. There is no external confirmation for it, yet it has frequently been assumed to be true by authors writing about the case.”

    The various novels about this character (both in English and Spanish) as well as the TV documentaries and dozens of journalistic and blog articles written before this one, had one and only source of information about the existence of such a “mastermind” behind the robbery: Decker’s story (who conveniently waited until Valfierno’s death to tell us). Did he ever gave any evidence of the con man effective existence (addresss, true name, something)?

    I tend to think that Decker is the greatest (and only) swindler in all this cinematographic story. And a movie based in one of the fictionalized versions is said to be released soon, indeed. My best.

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