Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is arguably the most famous paintings in history. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Mona Lisa has been a target for crime. On August 21, 1911, Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. However, it was not until the next afternoon that anyone realized the famous painting had been stolen. Museum officials believed that the Mona Lisa had been temporarily removed for photography for marketing purposes. After the painting was reported stolen, the Louvre shut down for a week, and over 200 officials from the French National Criminal Investigation Department arrived. They searched every room, closet, and corner of the infamously massive 49-acre museum. When they failed to recover the painting, investigators began a grueling hunt for the Mona Lisa. They questioned countless people before determining that the painting was likely lost forever.
The Mona Lisa was missing for two years before it was recovered close to where it was originally painted, in Florence, Italy. Vincenzo Peruggia, an employee of the museum stole the painting, hid it in a broom closet, and waited to leave until the museum was closed for the day. The painting was small enough to be hidden under his coat. For two years, Peruggia hid the Mona Lisa in his apartment, and was eventually caught when he tried to sell it to Florence’s Uffizi Gallery. Peruggia was an Italian nationalist, and believed that the Mona Lisa belonged to Italy. After an Italian tour, the painting was returned to its current home in the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was convicted and served a six-month sentence for the theft, though in Italy, he was hailed as a national hero.