The Perfect Crime?

September 18, 2017









While most of this story is factual, some of it is speculation. It’s up to you to decide how much to believe.








Take a look at this face. Do you see a mastermind? A patriot? An idiot? This post is about the theft of the most famous painting in the word, a theft that caused this painting to become the most famous painting of all time.




    Vincenzo Perugia



Some details are known, but much of this story is conjecture. In 1911, Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. For two years her whereabouts were unknown. Mona Lisa’s face was, for the first time, plastered on the cover of newspapers across the world as police and detectives hunted for the missing lady.


Had the thief selected a different painting, perhaps that one would today be the most famous. But Mona Lisa was selected. She spent most of that time in Paris, under the bed of an uneducated Italian immigrant who’d been working as a handyman at the Louvre.


The immigrant’s name was Vincenzo Perugia, a thirty-two year old uneducated petty thief who has been described as “a few pickles short of a sandwich.” He hid in a broom closet until the Louvre closed, and in the morning before the museum opened, he took Mona Lisa down from the wall, placed her under his smock and walked out the door with her. Two years later, Perugia returned to Italy with the painting and contacted a curator at Florence’s Uffizi Museum, claiming he had the real Mona Lisa. (Fakes were turning up everywhere.) When the painting was authenticated, Perugia was arrested, placed on trial and sentenced to prison. The painting was returned to the Louvre amidst great fanfare. All very cut and dry. Or was it? It’s quite possible Perugia was a dupe, an unwilling participant in a perfect crime.  






Perugia maintained he stole the painting for patriotic reasons, claiming that Napoleon had stolen it and he was only returning it to Italy. Actually, Leonardo himself brought the painting to France in 1516 when he became a guest of Francis I, who’d invited Leonardo to live out his life in financial security—hundreds of years before Napoleon was born. So again—a few pickles short of a sandwich. The ruse of the theft being motivated by patriotism doesn’t hold water, in my opinion. Vincenzo wrote his father a curious letter at the time, claiming that something big was about to happen that would change their impoverished lives, yet he waited two years before bringing the painting back to Italy?  What was he waiting for? If he were a patriot, why did he foolishly seek half a million lire from the director of the Uffizi Museum?


For two years Vincenzo slept in a rundown Parisian boarding house, the Florentine lady with the enigmatic smile hidden beneath his soiled mattress. The question waiting to be answered is this; why didn’t Vincenzo hustle the painting back to Italy? Why a two year wait? Did he pluck the painting from its hiding place every night and have a conversation with her? Did Vincenzo Perugia fall in love with the mysterious lady? I don’t think so.


I believe he was waiting to be contacted by the mastermind who’d convinced him to steal the painting, waiting to be rewarded for his efforts. Two years passed. Vincenzo Perugia grew impatient as he waited…and waited…and waited….


He was never contacted. Why? In my opinion, the man who’d convinced him to steal Mona Lisa was, like Leonardo, a genius. He had no intention of contacting Perugia or claiming the painting whose theft he’d commissioned. He had bigger plans.


Like I said, he was a genius, and he’d constructed an absolutely perfect crime.




The story continues on Wednesday



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Very intriguing, i knew the painting was stolen at one point and many believe what's hanging now is a perfect fake, that the original was never returned. Yes, i'll be tuning in on Wednesday for the rest of the story.
By: messymimi on September 18, 2017
Not very bright. Although it does make you wonder if that's the real one now.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on September 18, 2017
There isn't much doubt that the real one is currently hanging in the Louvre. It's been authenticated by all Leonardo experts.
By: Chubby Chatterbox on September 18, 2017
I've heard of Perugia and the theft, but I didn't know the details. I look forward to Wednesday's post. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on September 18, 2017
Is there a movie of this yet? It seems ripe for one.
By: PT Dilloway on September 18, 2017
my goodness- I'd never heard of does sound like he was duped!
By: Kathe W. on September 18, 2017
Thanks for educating me. I didn't know very much about this painting until I read your blog.
By: Michael Offutt on September 18, 2017
Oops (check above). I know this story well but not part 2 which will be interesting to learn. I knew about it being stolen by this man and he did it in such a blatant manner. he was not the brightest bulb and I always wondered how he could get away with it by walking out of the Louvre and getting on a bus with it. I will look forward to your part 2 because it never added up from all I have read and watched.
By: Birgit on September 18, 2017
Did not know about this. It doesn't make sense. Perfect fodder for a novel or a movie. I saw where there are two books about it. Will be waiting for Wednesday's addition.
By: Arkansas Patti on September 18, 2017
OK, you have me on the edge of my seat. I'll be back bright and early on Wednesday for the finale. :)
By: scott park on September 18, 2017
This would make a good movie. R
By: Rick Watson on September 18, 2017
Intrigue? Lots of it here. Police work was not that high tech at the time either.
By: red Kline on September 18, 2017
I remember seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre when SWMBO and I were there in '85. I asked her if she wanted her photo next to it or the Venus de Milo, as the Japanese tourists were doing. She declined the honor.
By: Catalyst on September 18, 2017
I am eagerly awaiting the conclusion. I have a hankering for a sandwich with pickles while I wait.
By: Val on September 18, 2017
I'm with Alex, this makes me wonder if this one could not be a fake...
By: Jimmy on September 19, 2017
interesting history that I didn't know... BTW, there's something weird about sleeping on top of that lady!
By: Sage on September 19, 2017
See you Wednesday!!
By: fishducky on September 19, 2017
Well, once again you have me hooked. I have never really been in love with this painting as so many have. It is beautiful, but so many others have captured my heart.
By: Tabor on September 19, 2017
By: The Bug on September 19, 2017
Hmmmm...interesting story. I like the expression "a few pickles short of a sandwich." Ha. Heading over to Wednesday's post next.
By: Pixel Peeper on September 23, 2017
I smell something fishy.
By: Daniel LaFrance on September 25, 2017

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