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Has the "Mona Lisa" Always Been Popular?

It's said that you don't appreciate what you have until you lose it, and there might be no better example than the Mona Lisa. The famous portrait by Leonardo da Vinci might be the world's most beloved painting, but that wasn't the case in 1911, when Vincenzo Peruggia stole it from the Louvre in Paris. In fact, when the painting, also known as "La Gioconda," went missing, it was 24 hours before anyone even realized it. But once they did, news of the theft quickly spread around the world. Newspapers were just coming into their own, so the theft made great fodder for readers, who followed the story of the missing artwork until it was recovered two years later. Even the Louvre benefited from the robbery, as lines formed to see the empty space where the Mona Lisa had been hanging. According to art historian Noah Charney, the portrait owes much of its modern fame to Peruggia. "If a different one of Leonardo's works had been stolen, then that would have been the most famous work in the world," he said. Of course, since then, da Vinci's masterpiece has attracted quite a crowd, with an estimated 9.7 million visitors coming to see it every year.

The mystique of the Mona Lisa:

  • Instead of canvas, the Mona Lisa was painted on a panel of poplar wood.

  • Since 2003, the Mona Lisa has been displayed in a room all by itself, in a shatterproof case that keeps it at 43 °F (6 °C).

  • Because he was known to buy stolen artwork, Pablo Picasso was questioned by police when the Mona Lisa went missing in 1911.

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More Info: CNN

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