How a Heist Made the Mona Lisa Famous Beyond Belief

You may be shocked to find out that the renowned painting the Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda, wasn’t as famous as it is today until the beginning of the 20th century, nearly 500 years after it was painted.

Probably the best part of this story is the heist wasn’t even an elaborate plan. It was done by one man who simply walked into the Louvre through one door and out another with the painting tucked under his arm.

This is the story of how an Italian man named Vincenzo Peruggia ended up making the Mona Lisa one of the most famous paintings in the world.

Who was Vincenzo Peruggia

Vincenzo Peruggia was born on October 8th, 1881 in Dumenza, a small village in the Alps of Italy on the border of Switzerland.

He eventually would move to Paris, where he worked as a carpenter and perform miscellaneous tasks at the Louvre.

The Day of the Heist

Eventually, maybe after growing restless at his failure as an artist, Peruggia decided to steal the Mona Lisa and return it to Italy.

Peruggia claims he did it out of patriotism. He probably couldn’t fathom how a beautiful Italian painting could’ve been stolen by the French and held captive away from her homeland.

Peruggia claims that he arrived at the museum on August 21st, 1911, at 7 AM wearing a white smock, similar to what other museum workers wore.

After entering the building, he went to the Salon Carre, where the Mona Lisa was displayed.  Once the room was clear, he took the Mona Lisa from its spot on the wall and brought it to an access stairwell.

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