August 21 - 1911 - The Theft of the Mona Lisa
The French painter Louis Beroud went into the Louvre to study the Mona Lisa for one of his own works when he discovered that the Mona Lisa was not in its spot. After consultation with the museum's staff, it became clear the painting had been stolen. Initially the suspicion was on radical poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire and a young Pablo Picasso, but then all leads went cold. Then in 1913 in Florence, a man named Vincenzo Peruggia offered the Mona Lisa to art gallery directors, including the head of the Uffizi Gallery. These men took the painting and informed the authorities of Peruggia's whereabouts. It became clear Peruggia had walked off with the painting while working as a guard at the Louvre. He said he did it out of patriotism, believing wrongly that the Mona Lisa was taken by Napoleon and he wanted to return it to its rightful home. Peruggia would serve time in jail, join the Italian Army, and then die in obscurity in 1925. In 1932, a journalist named Karl Decker wrote a story of an international criminal conspiracy with no actual proof. Nonetheless, the theft of the Mona Lisa turned it from a well regarded painting to the most famous painting in the world.