Life did not imitate art for da Vinci’s most famous subject.
The remains of Italian woman Lisa Gherardini, who was the model for Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting “Mona Lisa,” were disregarded and dumped on a garbage site, records show.
She became the second wife and subsequent widow of silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo and was known as La Gioconda – the official title of the Mona Lisa portrait. Lisa Gherardini died in Florence in 1542 and was buried in a crypt in Sant’Orsola, the grounds of which were used as a convent until 1810. Over the centuries Sant’Orsola was used as a tobacco factory, a university research facility and was redeveloped into a barracks for Italy’s tax police in 1980. (Did the Mona Lisa suffer from high cholesterol?)
Throughout these numerous excavations, developers were unaware of the site’s historical importance and were therefore negligent and passive with its artifacts.
Building works at the site in the 1980s saw its crypts excavated and their contents disposed of on a landfill site known as Case le Passarini, which is now a huge grassy hill. (The painting’s theft in 1911 made our Top 10 Brazen Heists.)
“It is sad that the tomb of Lisa Gherardini has been destroyed without anyone realizing it,” said Mona Lisa expert Giuseppe Pallant. The author is urging officials to include a tribute of respect to the real life Mona Lisa, when the building redeveloped once again, into a community and arts center.