How an Italian Handyman Created the Mona Lisa—by Stealing Her


Vincenzo Peruggia stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, an act that would spark the artwork's global fame.

The following article, written by Sheena McKenzie, appears on CNN.com.

Mona Lisa: The theft that created a legend

Why is the Mona Lisa the most famous painting in the world?

Her enigmatic smile? The mystery surrounding her identity? The fact she was painted by Renaissance pin-up boy Leonardo da Vinci?

Sure, all of these things helped boost the popularity of the 16th century masterpiece.

But what really catapulted the small, unassuming portrait to international stardom was a daring burglary over 100 years ago.

When Italian handyman Vincenzo Peruggia stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, he never could have guessed her absence would be the very thing that made her the most recognizable painting on the planet.

Suddenly images of the artwork were splashed across international newspapers, as the two-year police hunt hit dead-end after dead-end.

It wasn’t until December 1913 that Peruggia was finally caught and the Mona Lisa recovered, becoming the best known painting in a time before we shared images on TV, internet, and phones. Continue reading at CNN.com.

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