Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, an Italian Renaissance artist who lived from 1452 to 1519, was considered a genius in his time for his many amazing works as an inventor and artist among other things.
Commonly known as Leonardo da Vinci, this man is eternally famous today more for his artworks, one of which is a half-length portrait known as The Mona Lisa (Italian: Monna Lisa or La Gioconda, French: La Joconde).
This painting has been described as “the most visited, the best known, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the entire world”. It is also the most expensive painting in the world.
Even till this day, The Mona Lisa is still the most valuable paintings on Earth and that value just keeps on increasing by the year.
It entered the Guinness World Record in the year 1962 for the highest ever known insurance valuation in history. The figures stood at a staggering $100 million at the time. By modern valuation (current year) that’s about $800 million!
Most Expensive Painting In The World The Mona Lisa
The painting is a portrait of the lady Lisa Gherardini, the lovely wife of Francesco del Giocondo, and is an oil work on a white Lombardy poplar panel.
Experts believe it was painted sometime between the year 1503 and 1506 It was subsequently acquired by King Francis I of France and is currently the wholesome property of the French Republic, consequently, was put on permanent display on the walls of the famous Louvre Museum in Paris in 1797.
The Most Expensive Painting In The World Is Stolen: The Mona Lisa
For 200 years until the year 1911, three years before the first World War broke out in Europe, the greed of man was still young and thieves were not that many or ambitious.
At that time, just like any other painting, the most valuable painting in the world, The Mona Lisa, was simply hung on the walls of the Louvre Museum, or Musée du Louvre as its called in French. People would come in to look at the painting just like any other and it was in no way the most spectacular of its time.
But all that changed in 1911 when a former employee of the museum by the Italian name of Vincenzo Perugia walked right into the gallery before opening time on the fine morning of August 21, noticed the room was completely empty, took the Mona Lisa down from the wall, tucked it under his arm and walked right out of the gallery. He actually got out of the Louvre museum with it stuck under a painting smock.
The Most Expensive Painting In The World priceless art work The Mona Lisa
It took about a whole day, but when finally, the loss of the painting was noticed, the police were called in right away, after all, it was national property, and an investigation began.
For two full years, the whereabouts of the Italian masterpiece remained a mystery, while French detectives combed high and low as they made various wild guesses that lead nowhere. All kinds of theories were put foward by the police to explain th emissing art work: the painting had been stolen by the clever Germans, by evil geniuses, and even by anarchists.
By lunatics, everyone some of the people who actually got arrested included the country’s actually top art critic, Guillame Apollinaire, but he was later set free.
The Most Expensive Painting In The World France The Mona Lisa
All was believed to be lost until, out of the blue in 1913, the very year before the First World War, an Italian art dealer in Florence got a call from a man calling himself “Leonardo” and claiming to have the Mona Lisa in his possession.
All this man wanted was to see the painting hang in one of the most famous Italian museum, the Uffizi.
The art dealer who could scarcely believe that the thief of the most sought-after painting in the world could be so reckless tipped off the Italian police and then agreed to meet this strange Leonardo in a hotel room in Milan.
The Most Expensive Painting In The World
At the meeting, the unsuspecting ‘Leonardo’ opened his suitcase, emptied out his clothes and underwear, opened up a false bottom down in the case and out came the Mona Lisa, all clean and neat.
The police swooped in at once and the thief was immediately arrested.
Subsequent investigations revealed that Perugia was by no means a criminal genius trying to make himself a fortune but a fierce Italian patriots who, acting impulsively, had stolen the famous painting for sentimental reasons and simply wanted to see it returned to its true land of origin – Italy from where it was purchased by King Francis I of France in the 1530s.
The recovery of the painting was greeted with exultation in France, and eventually, the famed painting was safely shipped to its home in the Louvre.
Over back in Italy, however, the one thief Peruggia was praised by the Italians as a true patriotic hero of the land and served far less than a year in prison.
Today, a very thick pane of transparent high-security bullet-proof glass keeps all art lovers at a good distance away from the most expensive painting in the world, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous “Portrait of the Lady Lisa Gherardini, the lovely Wife of Baron Francesco Giacondo,” known in the French language as “La Joconde” and in the English language as “The Mona Lisa.”
You can go to the Museum and look but you can never touch this painting.
So what lesson does this nice story teach us? If you wanna steal, make it big and steal for national reasons. This way if you ever get caught, you can certainly get away with it!