Archive; 23 August 1911: Mona Lisa stolen from Louvre

Archive; 23 August 1911: Mona Lisa stolen from Louvre
Archive; 23 August 1911: Mona Lisa stolen from Louvre

One of the most precious treasures of the Louvre, Reuter’s Paris correspondent says, has disappeared. The discovery was made at midday yesterday, and the picture gallery was immediately closed, while the Minister of Fine Arts was advised by telegraph. The picture is the portrait by Leonardo da Vinci of Mona Lisa, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a citizen of Florence. According to Vasari, Leonardo de Vinci devoted four years to the portrait. It is styled “La Joconde,” and was purchased about the year 1500 by Francis I.

There was the greatest consternation when the picture was missed. An energetic search is being made in all directions, but it has so far been fruitless. The frame and glass were left on a staircase of the Louvre. It appears that the picture was missed on Monday night, but it was supposed it had been taken to be photographed. The Louvre is closed on Mondays, and one suggested clue is a remark made by a working masson to a comrade, as they were passing through the gallery yesterday, to the effect that the Mona Lisa was the finest picture in the Louvre. Another suggestion is that the picture was removed by a practical joker. In any case, it will be impossible to dispose of it, if really stolen, as it is so well known.

The Minister of Fine Arts (Reuter’s Paris correspondent states) yesterday communicated to the Council of Ministers the results of the inquiry into the theft of La Gioconda. The inquiry, it is said, has already yielded serious results as to the responsibility for the picture’s disappearance.

Several newspapers state that a merchant has informed the police he visited the Louvre last Saturday, and then noticed the absence of the picture.

The numerous supposed clues have so far led to no result. The investigations continue, and the Louvre remains closed. An English tourist anxious to visit the galleries yesterday offered to deposit a roll of banknotes as a security, but the offer was rejected. The theft remains the predominant topic of conversation. Every print shop has engravings of the masterpiece displayed in the windows, and the street hawkers are selling picture postcards of it.

The police have recovered from a ditch near the building the handle of an inside door of the which is supposed to have been broken off by the thief. As the result of a statement made by an official, which corroborates the evidence of another person who on Monday saw an individual hastily joining the Bordeaux express and carrying a badly wrapped-up frame, close investigations are being made along the line.

The police yesterday searched the mail boat Cordillere before it started from Bordeaux for South America, and orders have been received there to keep a watch for two Germans travelling from Paris to Bordeaux on foot who are suspected of being implicated.

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