Cleveland Museum of Art features film about Mona Lisa

Maria Fazal, Staff Reporter

The Mona Lisa: It is quite possibly the most famous painting in the world. Most could recognize that subtle smile and green dress anywhere. Art lovers and normals alike are also familiar with its famous creator, Leonardo da Vinci.

However, most of us have never stopped to wonder just why the Mona Lisa is so well known. While da Vinci’s skill must be taken into account, the real reason behind the Mona Lisa’s fame is much more scandalous.

Picture it: Louvre, 1911. A local Parisian artist strolls through the Salon Carré and notices something is amiss. A startling gap among the collection of fine paintings catches his eye. Instead of Leonardo’s painting, there are four metal pegs projecting from the wall.

Paris soon is in an uproar. The Louvre closes down for a week as a manhunt begins. Fingers are pointed and famous names like Apollinaire and Picasso are under suspicion. Yet, despite the uproar, no one is found guilty. The case goes cold.

Then, two years later, something remarkable happens. A former Louvre employee by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia is caught attempting to sell the now world-known painting to an Italian art gallery. He is promptly captured and thrown in jail.

And how did he manage to steal the Mona Lisa in the first place?

It turns out Peruggia hid in the museum overnight and emerged the next day wearing a museum employee’s uniform. He then simply snatched the painting from the wall. Peruggia removed the painting’s frame and glass cover, hid the painting underneath his clothes and sauntered out of the museum.

After Peruggia was captured, he was sentenced to prison for a short period and was later released to serve in the Italian army during World War I.

However, the biggest question still remains: Why did he do it?

Jump forward to 1976. A young filmmaker, Joe Medeiros, finds himself captivated by the mystery surrounding the Mona Lisa’s theft. He goes on a journey that lasts over 30 years and culminates with a carefully-crafted documentary, “The Missing Piece: The Truth About the Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa.”

Medeiros’ documentary investigates the reason behind Peruggia’s actions and shows Medeiros’ relentless dedication to find answers. A particular moment of interest is Medeiros’ interview with Constantina, Peruggia’s 84-year-old daughter. In this sense, Medeiros doesn’t just solve a mystery, but also provides some closure to the Peruggia family.

The Cleveland Museum of Art will show Medeiros’ documentary on Friday, Oct. 11 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1:30 p.m. The film is 85 minutes, and student tickets are available.