The Theft That Made The ‘Mona Lisa’ A Masterpiece
If you were standing outside the Louvre in Paris on the morning of Aug. 21, 1911, you might have noticed three men hurrying out of the museum.
They would have been pretty conspicuous on a quiet Monday morning, writer and historian James Zug tells All Things Considered host Guy Raz. “Sunday night was a big social night in Paris,” he says, “so a lot of people were hung over on Monday morning.”
The men, three Italian handymen, were not hungover. But they might have been a little tired. They’d just spent the night in an art-supply closet.
And on that morning, with the Louvre still closed, they slipped out of the closet and lifted 200 pounds of painting, frame and protective glass case off the wall. Stripped of its frame and case, the wooden canvas was covered with a blanket and hustled off to the Quai d'Orsay station, where the trio boarded a 7:47 a.m. express train out of the city.
They’d stolen the “Mona Lisa.”