As if that inscrutable Mona Lisa wasn’t famous enough, in 1911, the Louvre was shut down for an entire week during a world-famous investigation over the painting’s theft.
Yet it took two whole years, and erroneous accusations of French poet Guillaume Apollinaire and even Pablo Picasso, to find the real thief – a Louvre employee by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia.
Peruggia, an Italian patriot, waited in a broom cupboard in the museum overnight, and persuaded a plumber to allow him to exit the building having procured the painting, in an apparent attempt to return it to its Italian homeland. That motive made him a hero in the Italian press, but not, unfortunately for him, in the eyes of the jury. He was convicted in 1914.