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Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa Paperback – April 6, 2010
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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)--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
It was fascinating to me how many things were in play in 1911 when she was stolen, the beginnings of forensics and fingerprinting, who was suspected, the lack of security, etc.
Some critiques suggest this would have been a better book if it had been written as a historical fiction novel. It may be true that it might have made a more satisfying story - with nicely tied up ends - that way. I, however, like the way it was done. I like that the author presented the varying facts and theories as we know them. It makes the book and heist as mysterious as Mona Lisa's famous smile.
Having seen Mona Lisa myself, this was a particularly interesting read!
Like the person who stole the Picasso in San Francisco, the individual who stole the Mona Lisa--as detailed in this book--was a rogue individual with questionable intellect, somewhat delusional motives, and an opportunist.
This book is a combination of historical account, coupled with a lot of mystery thrown in. It's not a suspenseful read, by any means, but it does hold your attention. The author jumps to the chase, such that we find out the Mona Lisa is missing within the first few pages. We then learn about the sequence of events that surround the investigation of the crime, as well as the impact it had on French and broader European culture/society.
That Picasso was investigated as a suspect (and, we learn, Picasso's is the most stolen art in modern day) is an interesting twist, something I had never known, even though I'm familiar with much of his art, story, and background.
The book flows easily, and though the author delves into a few tangential areas, these are mostly related to the topic at hand. It actually helps to broaden the reader's perspective about art, history, and the role that artists and their product played in European society way back when.
This book will appeal to those who love art; who understand or want to know about security measures in museums, past and present; anyone who has seen the Mona Lisa and wants to read more on the painting's history; and those with an interest in European art from previous centuries.
I read the book on Kindle, and though there are a few pictures in the book, they translated ok to the Kindle format. There are numerous spelling errors, however. I don't know if this is also true in the standard form, or if some of the words got jumbled when it was put in Kindle format.
Anyhow, 4 stars from me ****
The authors account of the investigation is informative and often funny and the various suspects intriguing. A primary suspect is none other than Pablo Picasso.
Most recent customer reviews
The greatest art theft in history. The Mona Lisa simply vanishes and with the disappearance becomes the greatest painting ever. R.A.Read more