The Thefts of the Mona Lisa: The Complete Story of the World’s Most Famous Artwork

Rowman & Littlefield. Feb. 2024. 192p. ISBN 9781538181362. $32. FINE ARTS
It is ironic that an artist who rarely finished his paintings is responsible for the world’s most famous work of art; Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has captivated viewers since the early 16th century. Charney (The Art of Forgery; The Devil in the Gallery) explores how fascination with the painting has led to crime. The 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa is one of the most famous robberies in art history; that it was returned unscathed to the Louvre two years later seems like a miracle. Charney unpacks what drives people toward the Mona Lisa, the details surrounding the 1911 heist, and another mysterious theft of the masterpiece. Before introducing readers to the cast of characters in this thrilling mystery, he discusses Leonardo’s life, how the Mona Lisa came into existence, and how the portrait “disappeared” for a time during World War II, demonstrating that the history of the Mona Lisa is as mysterious as her smile.
VERDICT As an exploration of a famous art heist, Charney’s book does not disappoint. It’s also a succinct but comprehensive study of the Mona Lisa and some of her many secrets.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing