Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa
In 1911, the Louvre’s most famous denizen disappeared. Two books recount the sensational crime and a field of fascinating characters.
In this charming account of the brazen 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre and the two-year quest to bring her home, Scotti (Basilica ) explores not only the puzzling crime but also the source of the painting’s universal appeal and its provenance. On the morning of Tuesday, August 22, La Joconde was found missing from the Salon Carré. Even with help of renowned French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon, the trail was cold from the start. Rumors abounded about greedy, wealthy American collectors and the Louvre’s lax security. No one in Paris was above suspicion, not even the young Pablo Picasso. While the portrait was finally recovered in Florence in 1913, its theft apparently the result of a young Italian’s misguided patriotism (the painting’s probable subject is a young Florentine, Lisa del Giocondo), Scotti is eager to remind readers that the mystery is far from over. The true motive for the theft—and the possible connection to a larger ring of art thieves—remains tantalizingly unknown by the end of this lively recounting. Photos. (Apr.)
Release date: 04/01/2009