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Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 7, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

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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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307265803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307265807
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #776,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My first books were espionage novels. Since this was an exclusively male field, I wrote as R. A. (rather than Rita Angelica) Scotti and gained a reputation as "one of the best modern writers of intrigue." Neither reviewers nor readers suspected my true identity until I dropped the disguise and turned to non-fiction. My mother was born in New England, my father in Italy, and my books reflect the duality. "Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938" recounts the worst natural disaster in New England history. "Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal--Building St. Peter's" is a book that I have wanted to write ever since I stumbled into St Peter's Square. I was 19, on my own for the first time, and awestruck. The magnificence of Michelangelo's basilica led me circuitously to the mystery of Leonardo's Mona Lisa. "Vanished Smile" reopens the case of the mysterious theft of Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Vanished Smile" by R.A. Scotti is a fascinating account of the theft of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa' from the Musee de Louvre in 1911. A skilled writer who has previously produced both fiction and nonfiction books, Ms. Scotti is true to the historic specificity of the events but tells the tale with the verve and intrigue of a first-rate crime novelist. The result is an engrossing and entertaining read that should appeal to a wide audience, especially all those interested in art, history, or real-life mysteries.

Ms. Scotti leads us through the bizarre sequence of events that surrounded this, the crime of the 20th century. We become acquainted with an array of colorful personalities, from museum curators, petty criminals, forgers, police detectives and famous individuals including Guillaume Apollinaire and Pablo Picasso. We are taken back to a time where we understand how the unfolding drama captivated international audiences and ultimately helped to elevate the Mona Lisa to its present status as the world's most well-known painting.

Sandwiched between her narrative, Ms. Scotti includes an absorbing profile and short history of Leonardo and the Mona Lisa. She discusses the artists' life and times as well as his innovative painting techniques that combined to produce one of the most enduring works of art. The shrewd placement of this excursus in the middle of the text serves to heighten the suspense if not deepen the reader's appreciation of the Mona Lisa as both a brilliant technical achievement and cultural icon.

In the latter part of the book, Ms. Scotti relates how the perpetrator was finally apprehended while suggesting that unknown others may well have been involved in the heist. Ms.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
R. A. Scotti makes history FUN! VANISHED SMILE: THE MYSTERIOUS THEFT OF MONA LISA reads like a who-dunnit mystery. She starts with the 1911 theft, then follows along with the investigation as conducted by French officials. Never letting on as to the who as she tells the story of the how. False trails lead to the implication of Pablo Picasso! But, two years later the real thief emerges from the shadows.

I won't spoil the ending for you! R.A. Scotti examines contempory as well as later theories as to the WHY of the theft. Included along the way, you'll find lots of information about the history of the Mona Lisa and her creator, Leonardo da Vinci. All of which makes for a fast paced, interesting jaunt through one of history's little "side-shows."

Perhaps, like me, you'd never heard about "l'Affaire de la Joconde." It's a story worth learning. One of those strange tales that could happen in ONLY real life!

I give VANISHED SMILE by R.A. Scotti FIVE STARS!! Great writing style, a marvelous story, and thought provoking discussion of the possible "unknowns" of the entire case and history of the Mona Lisa. A few illustrations help the story along. As I said, it reads more like a who-dunnit mystery than a non-fiction history book. This is a book that anybody who likes art, Da Vinci, history or mystery could enjoy. Worthwhile, enjoyable reading.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Though the mastermind behind the theft of the Mona Lisa nearly a century ago may never be known, this book is a well written presentation of the event.

It's not often that "page-turner" and "non-fiction" are used together, but this is both. Scotti's style is to tell the story without unnecessary embellishment. It flowed nicely and the pieces of the puzzle fit together well.

She provides a needed sketch of da Vinci plus the birth and development of the Mona Lisa. She also gives us a fascinating look at the four hundred years of the painting's travels and travails leading up to the theft; as well as its last hundred years' journies.

This book held my attention throughout, and though it is not a long book but it was long enough to treat the story in sufficient detail. This was certainly entertaining and I highly recommend it.
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I find it hilarious that one of the critical Amazon reviews of "Vanished Smile" compared it unfavorably to Dan Brown! Perhaps the reader was expecting Leonardo DaVinci to jump out of a helicopter, or to find out that Mona Lisa herself was a long lost ancestor of Christ's. You'll find neither of those things in R.A. Scotti's compact account of the daring theft of history's most famous painting and its bizarre, twisted aftermath. What you will find is clear, beautifully written, well-researched journalism. As other's have pointed out, Scotti's done a terrific job of laying out the facts with flair, humor and, in the end, tremendous heart. This is the kind of stranger-than-fiction tale that even Dan Brown wouldn't have the guts to concoct -- and it's all true. Well, maybe not ALL true. What do I mean? You'll just have to read the book to find out. And I really don't think you'll miss the helicopter.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
So, I had to check this book out because my birthday is the same day, August 21 -- though many years later! I love learning about history and this was something I had not heard of before so I was particularly intrigued. Too bad it really failed to deliver for me. I think I would have enjoyed this a bit more if it stayed on course but the narrative seems to diverge in many places, jumping around to talk about Da Vinci, spending a whole lot of time talking about Picasso and his cohorts . . . so much so that I often found myself wondering when the author was going to return to the subject of the actual theft. The whole affair is a bit suspect and filled with intrigue, which the author is clearly trying to convey with her writing style but fell short for me. Because so much of what is written is a bit of hearsay, if you will, and the way the author presents it, I feel as if it would have been much more successful as a historical fiction and that, truly, that is more what the author wished as well. It was an interesting read, particularly if you skip over most of the middle hundred pages, and I definitely learned some things from it, but I wouldn't pick it up expecting to be flooded with all sorts of facts or put it down feeling like you have gained any sort of secret insight.
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