An Art Theft Anniversary

100 years ago Vincenzo Peruggia stole this painting:

The Mona Lisa

And 50 years ago Kempton Bunton stole this painting:

Goya’s The Duke of Wellington

Noah Charney discusses both in an Op-Ed for the LA Times:

These two famous art thefts, the date of the latter chosen by the colorful Bunton for the theatricality of falling on the anniversary of the former, helped to mold the public perception of art theft as a crime of oddball characters who did not really harm anyone. It is true that some of the many famous art thefts of the period preceding World War II were of this ilk, involving quirky nonviolent thieves with gentlemanly aspirations.

To read more about the Mona Lisa thefts, you can read Noah Charney’s long essay, The Thefts of the Mona Lisa: On Stealing the World’s Most Famous Painting, available from Amazon. All of the proceeds support ARCA. You can also read my short forward to the book, where I argue that perhaps we’d all be better off had the work stayed stolen.

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Mona Lisa hit by mug, no harm done

Mona LisaIt is certainly an iconic painting, and an important work of art, but it can be a real paing fighting the crowds and amateur photographers trying to catch a glimpse.  But do you really need to start throwing things at it?

One woman felt compelled to do so, as the Mona Lisa was attacked by a Russian woman last week who threw a mug at the painting, but it only smashed on the bullet-proof glass with no harm done.  The woman was apparently “unhinged” according to a Louvre spokesperson.  This isn’t the first time the painting has been the target of vandals.  It was of course stolen for a few years in 1911; doused with acid in 1956; and hit by a rock later that year by an angry Bolivian. 

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