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On This Day… A World Famous Art Theft

Written by: George Chittenden : 27 Jul 2019

It was on this day, 21st August, back in 1911 when Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre by employee Vincenzo Peruggia. The handyman had been hired by the Louvre to make protective glass cases for some its famous works. Vincenzo entered the museum around 7 a.m, and when the room where the Mona Lisa hung, was empty, he lifted the painting off the four pegs that secured it to the wall and took it to a nearby service staircase.

Removing the famous painting from its protective case and frame, he took off his smock and wrapped it around the painting, before strolling out of the Louvre through the same door he had entered. He kept the painting hidden in his Paris apartment and was even questioned there by police who accepted his alibi that he had been working at a different location on the day of the theft. Vincenzo Peruggia eventually returned to his homeland of Italy and contacted Alfredo Geri, the owner of an art gallery in Florence. The painting was authenticated, and the police were called. In December 1913 Vincenzo Peruggia was finally caught and the Mona Lisa was recovered.

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