365 Days of Art: December 10 – Art Thief Tries to Negotiate Return of Mona Lisa

Woman seated in front of misty landscape with mysterious smile and folded hands.
La Gioconda (popularly known as The Mona Lisa), Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-1517

December 10, 1913

A man enters Geri’s antique shop in Florence, and after waiting for the other customers to leave, announces that he is in possession of the stolen Mona Lisa. The man gives his name as Leonardo Vincenzo, and says he has the painting in his hotel room. He explains that he has stolen the painting in order to wrest it back from France and return it to Italy, and asks for a half million lire. His two stipulations are that it be hung in the Uffizi Gallery, and never returned to France. He is put out by what he views as Napoleon’s theft of one of Italy’s rightful pieces of heritage.

Like a smooth operator, Signor Geri, the shop owner, agrees to the price but stalls for time, saying that the director of the Uffizi must see the painting. Leonardo suggests they all meet in his hotel room the next day to take a look.

After Leonardo leaves, Geri contacts the police and the Uffizi.