More than one hundred years ago one man, an Italian painter and decorator, pulled off one of the biggest heists in recorded history. The man slipped out of a cupboard in the Louvre gallery, where he had been hiding all night, removed the Mona Lisa from the gallery wall and slipped out of the building unseen.
It was 24 hours before anybody had noticed that the painting was missing, and the perpetrator kept in in his apartment in Paris, then smuggled it to Florence in Italy where he again kept it in his apartment, he was only apprehended when he approached an Italian gallery owner expecting to receive an award for the paintings safe return two years after initially stealing it.
The Man Who Stole The Mona Lisa is a 2011 documentary which tells the story of the perpetrator, Vincenzo Peruggia, who served a short sentence in jail for the crime before returning to France to resume work as a painter and decorator under a new name. His motives for the crime remain unknown, speculation ranges from his patriotic belief that the painting should be displayed in the home country of Di Vinci, whilst others speculate that he was actually acting under the instruction of a somebody wealthy who had instructed him to steal the painting but later reneged on a promise to purchase it.
The theft of the Mona Lisa and the subsequent investigation into the crime has been covered in several books, including Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R A Scotti, available in paperback or hardback editions. One of the revelations in the book is that Pablo Picasso was treated as a prime suspect in the case!