Amazon Best of the Month, April 2009
: In 1911, Leonardo's da Vinci's Mona Lisa was stolen off its hooks from the Louvre, remaining missing for over two years. Who took the most famous painting in the world? Was it Pablo Picasso, the upstart Spaniard--and modern counterpoint to the Italian master--in a fit of nationalistic pride, or the avant-garde poet Guillaume Apollinaire as an act of artistic revolution? R.A. Scotti's Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa
investigates this largely forgotten caper, and along the way we're treated to a tour of turn-of-the-century Paris, the birth of modern forensics, and a biography of the enigmatic painting itself. To this day the mysterious theft of the painting the French call La Joconde
remains unsolved--only Mona Lisa knows, and she's not talking. --Jon Foro
R.A. Scotti on Vanished Smile
Mona Lisa is the most famous face in the world, yet few among the thousands who flock to the Louvre to see her every day know that she was ever stolen. Who pinched Mona Lisa--and why?
The most surprising facts in the case:
1. 98 years ago, Mona Lisa vanished from the wall of the Louvre Museum.
2. No one noticed for more that 24 hours.
3. Pablo Picasso was a prime suspect in the theft.
4. Her mysterious disappearance made Mona Lisa the most famous wanted woman in the world.
4. Mona Lisa remained missing for more than 2 years and was presumed lost forever.
5. A letter signed “Leonardo” led police to the lost painting.
6. Almost 100 years later, the brazen crime remains unsolved. --R.A. Scotti
(Photo © Doug Steel)
From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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