Wednesday, August 21, 2013
AUGUST 21 = "The Mona Lisa" is STOLEN!!!
"Public opinion was on his side. The spectators would cheer when he said something and grumble when the prosecution tried to make a point. He was in jail but he got love letters. People sent him bottles of wine. Women baked cakes for him. He was really important and this did not displease him."
- Seymour Reit, author of "The Day They Stole the Mona Lisa"
Vincenzo Perugia. Neither the name nor the... uh... "noble" visage of the man pictured above are likely to trigger much of a reaction in most of my readers nowadays. But at one time, however briefly he was indeed as Mr. Reit says above "really important", even popular including with the ladies. Yes, Vincenzo was one of the earliest of a common modern day phenomenon... a popular defendant, a man who in spite of having clearly done the crime, nevertheless caught the public's fancy. Before Scott Peterson, or Eric Snowden, or any of these other media darling criminals with which we've become so familiar in today's world, there was Vincenzo Perugia, the man who brazenly stole the "Mona Lisa" in broad daylight on today's date, August 21, in 1911.
The Early Morning Theft of the World's Most Famous Painting
The Theft of the Mona Lisa Causes a Sensation....
The disapperance of the Mona Lisa was not actually discovered until the next day, the 22'nd. A painter who had brought his easel to make his own version of Leonardo's work found the space normally
Two Years Pass and Then a Break....
But there was nothing remotely so grand, no such foreign intrigue in the actual whereabouts of the celebrated Leonardo masterpiece. Vincenzo had simply taken it back to his apartment in Paris wherein he hid it in a trunk for two years. The police did search all over, even coming to his apartment and questioning him, but he was able to produce a plausible
Perugia Makes a Public Showing for Italy at His Trial
In the super-charged publicity for his trial (which was in Italy) Vincenzo wound up becoming a hero in his homeland for his zeal to restore to Italy her "stolen" masterpiece... nevermind the fact that it had not been stolen. Hence the ladies sending him love letters and baking him cakes. And that is hardly surprising considering Perugia's highly romantic claim of his motivations. He maintained throughout that the Mona Lisa had bewitched him with her beauty and that his only wish had been to rescue
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