Tagged: Vincenzo Peruggia

Vincenzo Peruggia (1881–1925) was an Italian handyman who is best known for stealing the Mona Lisa.

Here’s a brief overview of how Vincenzo Peruggia stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre:

The Theft

On August 21, 1911, Peruggia perpetrated one of the most famous art thefts in history by stealing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa from the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The Italian was able to accomplish this by entering the museum dressed in a white smock, similar to what the museum staff wore, and hiding until the museum closed.

He took the painting, concealed it under his smock, and exited the museum.


Peruggia claimed that his motive was patriotic. He believed that the Mona Lisa should be returned to Italy, as it was a significant piece of Italian heritage, and he perceived its presence in France as a symbol of Italy’s subjugation to French cultural dominance.

He falsely believed that the painting had been looted by French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte during the Napoleonic Wars and should be returned to Italy, despite the fact that it was legally purchased by Francis I of France in the 16th century.


Peruggia kept the Mona Lisa in a trunk in his apartment for over two years.

In 1913, he contacted Alfredo Geri, an art dealer in Florence, offering to return the painting to Italy.

Geri and Giovanni Poggi, the director of the Uffizi Gallery, authenticated the painting and subsequently alerted the police, leading to Peruggia’s arrest.

He was tried in Italy and received a comparatively lenient sentence of one year and 15 days in prison but served less than a year.


The theft of the Mona Lisa brought the painting unprecedented attention, contributing to its status as one of the most recognized and celebrated pieces of art in the world.