7 September 1911: Mona Lisa and Apollinaire


On 7 September 1911, French poet Guillaume Apollinaire was arrested and jailed on suspicion of stealing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa from the Louvre museum in Paris.
The 31-year-old poet had a mysterious background and was known for his radical views and support for extreme avant-garde art movements. This led authorities to regard him as a dangerous foreigner and main suspect in the Mona Lisa theft, which had taken place on 21 August.
Since no evidence surfaced, Apollinaire was released after five days.
Two years later, a former employee of the Louvre, Vincenzo Peruggia, was arrested while trying to sell the famous painting in Florence. Peruggia had stolen it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet, and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. He believed Leonardo’s painting was to be  returned for display in an Italian museum. He kept the Mona Lisa in his flat  for two years, but then tried to sell it to  the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where it was exhibited for a fortnight before being given back to the Louvre on 4 January 1914.


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