August 21, 1911: Theft of the Mona Lisa
On this day in 1911, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, was stolen from the Louvre in Paris by an employee who walked out of the museum with the painting in his jacket.
The thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, claimed to have been motivated by his patriotism to Italy, to where he believed the Mona Lisa should be returned. However, after two years of having the da Vinci painting in his possession, Peruggia was apprehended trying exchange it for ransom money.
In 1998, a portrait of a young Renaissance woman was sold for $20,000. This portrait is now thought to be an undiscovered masterwork by Leonardo da Vinci worth more than $100 million.
NOVA’s “Mystery of a Masterpiece” investigates whether or not the painting was really a lost Leonardo.