Did the Mona Lisa get stolen in 2023? Start Here

Mona Lisa

According to a viral TikTok video, the Mona Lisa, arguably the most famous painting in the world, was stolen from the Louvre. The clip shows a queue of ambulances and police vehicles speeding away as they sound their sirens near the Arc De Triomphe roundabout in Paris. 

It seems they are responding to something major, which, according to the video’s creator, is the theft of the world-famous Mona Lisa. “POV: your [sic] in Paris when the Mona Lisa has been stolen,” the description reads. 

TikTok has become a primary news source for many users worldwide, prompting some to believe in false narratives. 

The Mona Lisa hasn’t been stolen and still hangs in the Louvre

While TikTok can be a source of breaking news, much of the information posted on the platform is false. The Mona Lisa hasn’t been stolen and is still available for viewing in the Louvre. 

If the Mona Lisa were stolen, the story would make international news in no time. Reliable news outlets haven’t reported on the Mona Lisa’s alleged theft, so the reports from TikTok are false. 

Developments regarding the Mona Lisa, a painting worth over $830 million, are relayed to the public as soon as they emerge. For instance, when a climate activist smeared the painting with cake in late May 2022, the world learned about it within hours. 

“There are people who are destroying the earth,” the man, who’d accessed the museum in a wheelchair dressed as a wheelchair, said. “All artists, think about the Earth. That’s why I did this. Think of the planet.”

The theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 led to the painting’s worldwide recognition

For centuries, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa wasn’t considered a masterpiece. It wasn’t until the 1860s that French critics started hailing it as a Renaissance painting masterwork. Regardless, the Mona Lisa remained one of da Vinci’s lesser-known paintings, especially outside France.

The Mona Lisa gained worldwide fame after Vincenzo Perugia, and two accomplices stole it. The thieves hid in an art-supply closet and waited until the Louvre’s closure before emerging to steal the painting. It was a clean getaway for the trio. 

After the Louvre announced the theft, newspapers worldwide ran headlines about the painting. Overnight, the Mona Lisa had gone from relative obscurity to global infamy. Perugia wanted to sell the painting quickly, but the attention surrounding the Mona Lisa had proliferated, forcing the thief to postpone his plans. 

“[Perugia] could have brought it in, but I think the main reason he didn’t do that is he was worried about being arrested — and that the story was so big that he probably didn’t think he could get away with it,” historian James Zug said, per NPR

Vincenzo waited for two years before trying to sell the painting. The Florence art dealer who received the painting informed the police, who arrested Perugia. “He said later that he was trying to return it to Italy — that he was a patriot and it was stolen by Napoleon — and he was trying to return it to the land of his birth,” Zug added. 

Mona Lisa was returned to the Louvre – the painting looked the same but boasted an elevated status. As far as we can tell, Vincenzo Perugia was the last person to have successfully stolen the Mona Lisa – it has remained in France’s custody since the 1910s.