STEALING THE MONA LISA …

    On Monday, August 21, 1911, a man walked from the Louvre carrying the Mona Lisa. He had stolen it. Incredible? Can’t happen? Today, it probably won’t happen, but in 1911 it did. I wrote about it for crimemagazine.com in 2012 and you can read my article when you click on the link. Here though […]

 

Mona Lisa (Photo Copyright Marilyn Z Tomlins)

Mona Lisa (Photo Copyright Marilyn Z Tomlins)

 

On Monday, August 21, 1911, a man walked from the Louvre carrying the Mona Lisa. He had stolen it. Incredible? Can’t happen? Today, it probably won’t happen, but in 1911 it did.

I wrote about it for crimemagazine.com in 2012 and you can read my article when you click on the link.

Here though is a taster:

My intro is:

The Mona Lisa was the world’s most famous and valuable painting, yet its security depended on four ordinary hooks and the locked door of the museum – the Louvre in Paris – where it was on display. All that would be needed to take it down from the wall and to carry it off was a pair of strong arms.

Then I continue:

The streets of Paris were already hot but still silent on this summer morning just before eight. It was Monday, August 21. The year was 1911.

A few drunk revelers – men, their handlebar mustaches wet with perspiration, and women of low repute, necklaces of fake rubies and emeralds adorning their half-exposed ample bosoms – stood on the sidewalks outside the Folies Bergère music hall and the Moulin Rouge cabaret waiting for taxicabs – horse-drawn carriages – to come by and to take them home.

Elsewhere in Paris, burly concierges were sweeping the sidewalks in front of the buildings in their charge. Halting for a few minutes, they lit foul-smelling Gaulloiscigarettes and shouted greetings across the streets to one another.

Mondays were closing days for small family-owned shops, those which were open on Sundays, but the big stores of La SamaritaineGalaries Lafayette and Le Bon Marchéwould be opening and pretty salesgirls were already at that hour emerging from Métro (the underground rail system) stations for a 10-hour working day.

The Louvre museum was also closed. Always open on a Sunday, Monday was the day the museum was being cleaned. Cleaners would polish its wooden floors, delicately dust the paintings hanging on the walls and wipe off the oily finger marks which had been left by admiring visitors on the glass display cases. It was also a day for repairs when the maintenance staff, dressed in white smocks so that they could be told apart from the lowly cleaners, who wore blue aprons, would change light bulbs, repair leaking faucets, or replace hooks on a painting. There would also be banging both inside and outside the building because an elevator, a new element in the capital’s Haussmannian buildings, was being installed and scaffolding covered part of the building …

In the Louvre looking out (Marilyn Z. Tomlins copyright.)

In the Louvre looking out (Marilyn Z. Tomlins copyright.)

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

2 Responses to “STEALING THE MONA LISA …”

  1. 2
    Jo Wake Says:

    Personally I wish he’d kept it. I have never understood the hoo hah about that painting. I never liked it and when I actually saw it I couldn’t believe how tiny it was.

  2. 1
    Irene Says:

    Incredible story, Marilyn; as always, I love how you write historical events too.

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