The man who stole the Mona Lisa

The man who stole the Mona LisaOn 21 August 1911, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, was stolen right off the wall of the Louvre, Paris. It was such an inconceivable crime, that the Mona Lisa wasn't even noticed missing until the following day.

Eduardo de Valfierno an Argentinean con man, always referred to himself as Marqués, allegedly masterminded the theft. Valfierno paid several men to steal the work of art from the Louvre, including Vincenzo Peruggia who was employed by the museum. On 21 August 1911 Peruggia hid the Mona Lisa under his coat and simply walked out of the door. On the following day, Béroud an artist, who walked into the Louvre and went to the Salon Carré where the Mona Lisa had been on display for five years, discovered the theft. But on the wall where the Mona Lisa used to hang, in between Correggio's Mystical Marriage and Titian's Allegory of Alfonso d'Avalos, sat only four iron pegs.

Before the heist took place, Valfierno had commissioned French art restorer and forger Yves Chaudron to make six copies of the Mona Lisa. The forgeries were then shipped to various parts of the world, readying them for the buyers he had lined up. Valfierno knew once the Mona Lisa was stolen it would be

harder to smuggle copies past customs. After the heist the copies were delivered to their buyers, each thinking they had the original, which had just been stolen for them. Because Valfierno just wanted to sell forgeries, he only needed the original Mona Lisa to disappear and never contacted Peruggia again after the crime. Eventually two years later Peruggia was caught trying to sell the painting to Alfredo Geri, a Florentine antique dealer. It was returned to the Louvre in 1913.

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