Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa Info

Fan Club Reviews of best titles on art fashion, artists, history, photography. Check out our top reviews and see what others have to say about the best art and photography books of the year. Check out Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa Community Reviews - Find out where to download Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa available in multiple formats:Hardcover,Paperback,Kindle,Audible Audiobook,Audio CD Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa Author:R.A. Scotti Formats:Hardcover,Paperback,Kindle,Audible Audiobook,Audio CD Publication Date:Apr 7, 2009


On August 21, 1911, the unfathomable happened–Leonardo da
Vinci’s Mona Lisa vanished from the Louvre. More than twenty-four
hours passed before museum officials realized she was gone. The prime
suspects were as shocking as the crime: Pablo Picasso and Guillaume
Apollinaire, young provocateurs of a new art. As French detectives using
the latest methods of criminology, including fingerprinting, tried to
trace the thieves, a burgeoning international media hyped news of the
heist.
No story captured the imagination of the world quite like
this one. Thousands flocked to the Louvre to see the empty space where
the painting had hung. They mourned as if Mona Lisa were a lost loved
one, left flowers and notes, and set new attendance records. For more
than two years, Mona Lisa’s absence haunted the art world,
provoking the question: Was she lost forever? A century later, questions
still linger.
Part love story, part mystery, Vanished Smile
reopens the case of the most audacious and perplexing art theft ever
committed. R. A. Scotti’s riveting, ingeniously realized account
is itself a masterly portrait of a world in transition. Combining her
skills as a historian and a novelist, Scotti turns the tantalizing clues
into a story of the painting’s transformation into the most
familiar and lasting icon of all time.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of
this title.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa:

4

Jan 23, 2018

Nineteen eleven was a year of grand escapades. In the boatyards of Belfast, a magnificent new ocean liner was under construction. Its builders boasted that it would be "unsinkable". In Antarctica Captain Robert Falcon Scott was trudging across a frozen plateau to the South Pole, the Union Jack folded in his Pack, dreaming of making history, and in Paris a plan was brewing to pinch the most famous painting in the world. Of these three grand escapades, the first seemed assured of success, the Nineteen eleven was a year of grand escapades. In the boatyards of Belfast, a magnificent new ocean liner was under construction. Its builders boasted that it would be "unsinkable". In Antarctica Captain Robert Falcon Scott was trudging across a frozen plateau to the South Pole, the Union Jack folded in his Pack, dreaming of making history, and in Paris a plan was brewing to pinch the most famous painting in the world. Of these three grand escapades, the first seemed assured of success, the second likely, and the third not only improbable but impossible.

This is a book about the theft of the painting by Leonardo Da Vince whose disappearance from the walls of the Louvre in 1911 caused a ruckus unlike any painting ever or since has caused. I did see the Mona Lisa twice in the Louvre once in a quite moment in the morning and the first time among a few busloads of Japanese tourists. Yes she is something special so I understand the sentiment that this little painting has created.

Anyhow this book is about the theft, the politics in those years (close to the beginning of WWI), how the French police never cracked the case at all but in their investigations we find a certain Pablo Picasso who was involved with theft from the Louvre. It also contains a decent amount of history about the Mona Lisa and its travels to the current place she is at.
The writer does offer us some explanations about the theft and yet tells us as well that the story of the professed thief might not be accurate, there are far more interesting stories but it is impossible to find the truth about what really has happened.

It is a well written book about a fascinating theft of a fascinating painting and the writer himself does paint a very good portrait of the periode it happened. What happened took place in a time before the world caught fire and that is also part of the tale of the theft.

A very enjoyable and historical interesting tale that is more real-live crime and a great document of a certain time in our history.

Very enjoyable. ...more
4

Feb 12, 2012

"1911 was a year of grand escapades. In the boatyards of Liverpool, a magnificent new ocean liner was under construction. Its builders boasted that it would be 'unsinkable.' In Antarctica, Captain Robert Falcon Scott was trudging across the frozen plateau to the South Pole, the Union Jack folded in his pack, dreaming of making history, and in Paris, a plan was brewing to pinch the most famous painting in the world. Of these three grand escapades, the first seemed assured of success, the second "1911 was a year of grand escapades. In the boatyards of Liverpool, a magnificent new ocean liner was under construction. Its builders boasted that it would be 'unsinkable.' In Antarctica, Captain Robert Falcon Scott was trudging across the frozen plateau to the South Pole, the Union Jack folded in his pack, dreaming of making history, and in Paris, a plan was brewing to pinch the most famous painting in the world. Of these three grand escapades, the first seemed assured of success, the second likely, and the third not only improbable but impossible."

Man, who doesn't love a good heist story? The theft of the Mona Lisa, stolen in 1911 and recovered in 1913, is on par with Ocean's Eleven with its eccentric list of suspects, apparent simplicity hiding complex pre-planning, and a theft that involved a tangled mass of accomplices and complications. The painting vanished practically into thin air one afternoon, leaving the French police scrambling for suspects (some of whom included young Pablo Picasso and Guillame Apollinaire) and going on a worldwide search for the stolen painting. One of the French detectives in charge of the case was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, and used the case to test his theories on fingerprinting in order to solve a case. The entire world, meanwhile, went into straight-up mourning for the lost painting. The eventual culprit was caught, but seemed like such an unlikely criminal mastermind that no one believed he had really done it. Years later, a new story surfaced that revealed the real reasons for the theft, but hang on - even that story might be a lie. Even decades later, experts aren't sure exactly why the Mona Lisa was stolen. There are theories, but nothing has been conclusively proven yet.

If you've never heard that the Mona Lisa was stolen and are seriously intrigued by the story, then RA Scotti's book is a great crash course on the heist. She describes the painting's notoriety pre- and post-theft, goes into detail about the various suspects and their motivations, and discusses the history of the painting itself (such as who Mona Lisa really was and how da Vinci painted the work). The story reads like a Hollywood heist story, and it's a lot of fun. I have only two gripes: first, the story is only 227 pages long, so Scotti doesn't go into as much detail as I'd have liked when she discusses the theories behind the theft; and also, Scotti's narration has a tendency to run towards the melodramatic ("Mona Lisa had been spirited away, leaving no forwarding address.") to the point where I would read a breathlessly dramatic sentence and expect to hear the CSI: Miami theme song start blaring from the pages. Also, in this version the Mona Lisa is basically a character, and Scotti writes like it's a person that's been kidnapped:

"Men had been coming to court her for years, bearing flowers, notes, and poems... She accepted their attentions democratically but gave nothing in return, just the same half-smile. She conferred it on all equally. A promise, a tease, a warning. No man could be sure."

This is a painting Scotti's writing about. A painting. It got annoying, frankly, to keep reading about the Mona Lisa being referred to as "her." It's a painting, Scotti, not a human being. Try to calm down over there. ...more
4

Apr 02, 2009

“Vanished Smile” is a history of the theft and recovery of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, but it reads more like a high-quality detective novel. Before reading this book, I had known the bare bones outline of the story—that the world’s most famous painting had been stolen from the wall it had graced for almost a century one day in 1911, and was only recovered after a lengthy absence. Scotti’s narrative fills in the details of a canvas every bit as rich as Leonardo’s own.

The narrative puts us at “Vanished Smile” is a history of the theft and recovery of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, but it reads more like a high-quality detective novel. Before reading this book, I had known the bare bones outline of the story—that the world’s most famous painting had been stolen from the wall it had graced for almost a century one day in 1911, and was only recovered after a lengthy absence. Scotti’s narrative fills in the details of a canvas every bit as rich as Leonardo’s own.

The narrative puts us at the scene of the crime, describes the international sensation it caused, sorts through the series of suspects (including the young Pablo Picasso) and theories about how and why the heist was committed, and takes us along as police finally recover the world’s most famous painting from a most unlikely thief. Scotti interweaves this gripping story with the back history of the Mona Lisa and covers the post-theft years as well.

Although relatively brief (211 pages), Scotti’s account manages to tell an exciting story and offer up a few intriguing reflections on the external mystery that is the Mona Lisa. ...more
1

Jun 28, 2009

This is the story of the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. It's an interesting series of events, but you can get all the information about it you need from the wikipedia article, which I strongly suggest because the quality of writing in this book is abysmal. The author cannot resist adding flowery, melodramatic, and frequently nonsensical descriptions that practically writhe off the page. The whole thing calls to mind a ninth grader desperately trying to pad an essay.

Here's an This is the story of the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. It's an interesting series of events, but you can get all the information about it you need from the wikipedia article, which I strongly suggest because the quality of writing in this book is abysmal. The author cannot resist adding flowery, melodramatic, and frequently nonsensical descriptions that practically writhe off the page. The whole thing calls to mind a ninth grader desperately trying to pad an essay.

Here's an example:
"Night like liquid velvet settled over the mansard roofs, innocent, if a night is ever innocent. A night is young but never innocent, and as Sunday merged with Monday and the city awakened to a new day, the game that would stun Paris and astound the world was afoot."

So wait, is the night innocent or not? Because I think that's really key to the crime here.

...more
4

Aug 03, 2012

I found this book very interesting! I had to read it for my "France in Popular American Culture" course.

I really enjoyed how Scotti made it seem like a mystery novel by displaying clues little by little leading up to the big reveal.
It was a quick, fun read. I think anyone who is interested in France, or Art History would find this book interesting! Although I am not too interested in the latter, France as a whole intrigues me, and the hype around "Mona Lisa" is unmatchable, making the I found this book very interesting! I had to read it for my "France in Popular American Culture" course.

I really enjoyed how Scotti made it seem like a mystery novel by displaying clues little by little leading up to the big reveal.
It was a quick, fun read. I think anyone who is interested in France, or Art History would find this book interesting! Although I am not too interested in the latter, France as a whole intrigues me, and the hype around "Mona Lisa" is unmatchable, making the mysterious theft enthralling.

Overall, good non-fiction book. Interesting course material.

...more
5

Sep 30, 2013

Scotti achieves near perfection in a book that I anticipated finding little interest but was overwhelmingly surprised with the fluid writing style and thorough research that seemed to cover every question I could surmise about its topic. This is a history book from which many other writers could take notes when it comes to presentation. Its Holmesian mystery was interwoven with facts from every angle that kept me enthralled throughout, and left me curious as to Scotti's other works, which I will Scotti achieves near perfection in a book that I anticipated finding little interest but was overwhelmingly surprised with the fluid writing style and thorough research that seemed to cover every question I could surmise about its topic. This is a history book from which many other writers could take notes when it comes to presentation. Its Holmesian mystery was interwoven with facts from every angle that kept me enthralled throughout, and left me curious as to Scotti's other works, which I will soon be investigating. Do yourself a favor, and check her out. ...more
2

Nov 23, 2015

why is it that so many authors ruin a good story with bad writing?? honestly, one comparison of the mona lisa to an actual woman was enough. the other eighty or so were redundant.
4

Oct 20, 2013

Intriguing. Like every book set in Paris, makes you want to book a holiday/move continents/become a detective or art curator immediately.
3

May 31, 2013

R.A. Scotti is an excellent writer of non-fiction: I enjoyed Sudden Storm immensely, and I really liked Basilica. This was the weakest book from her of the three. While still interesting and informative, it was less compelling. Maybe I just don't get the attraction of La Giaconda.
5

Dec 29, 2013

I loved this book! It really brought Mona Lisa to life for me in so many ways. I love that the story of the theft covered many different eras and even brought in some insight on Picasso. Wonderfully written. I loved the descriptions, especially "...Picasso's gang of painters and poets were the outlaws of traditional art, riding into town like the cowboys of the Wild West to slay the Renaissance gods." And I loved the last three paragraphs...but don't read them first.
4

Mar 20, 2011

A must read for anyone who has had the good fortune of visiting the Louvre and seeing Mona Lisa in person. A recommended read even if you haven't.

It was fascinating to me how many things were in play in 1911 when she was stolen, the beginnings of forensics and fingerprinting, who was suspected, the lack of security, etc.

Some critiques suggest this would have been a better book if it had been written as a historical fiction novel. It may be true that it might have made a more satisfying story - A must read for anyone who has had the good fortune of visiting the Louvre and seeing Mona Lisa in person. A recommended read even if you haven't.

It was fascinating to me how many things were in play in 1911 when she was stolen, the beginnings of forensics and fingerprinting, who was suspected, the lack of security, etc.

Some critiques suggest this would have been a better book if it had been written as a historical fiction novel. It may be true that it might have made a more satisfying story - with nicely tied up ends - that way. I, however, like the way it was done. I like that the author presented the varying facts and theories as we know them. It makes the book and heist as mysterious as Mona Lisa's famous smile.

Having seen Mona Lisa myself, this was a particularly interesting read! ...more
5

Jun 10, 2009

I picked this book up expecting it to be a bit dry - but - once again R.A. Scotti pulled me into the story as if it were fictionalized.

Very few people who visit the Louvre realize that the Mona Lisa was stolen at one time - people used to come to view the empty space - they were in such disbelief that anyone could commit such a crime!

Vanished Smile is the story of that theft and the involvement of the creative luminaries of that era in the crime!

Although this is a non-fiction accounting of the I picked this book up expecting it to be a bit dry - but - once again R.A. Scotti pulled me into the story as if it were fictionalized.

Very few people who visit the Louvre realize that the Mona Lisa was stolen at one time - people used to come to view the empty space - they were in such disbelief that anyone could commit such a crime!

Vanished Smile is the story of that theft and the involvement of the creative luminaries of that era in the crime!

Although this is a non-fiction accounting of the "crime of the century" I have to admit it is as riveting as a well crafted thriller.

Scotti has the ability to weave facts with her keen observances of the times. Her depictions of the guard at the Louvre, the poet Appollinaire, the painter Picasso and Paris in 1911 are nothing short of brilliant.

In reading through the complete and detailed bibliography I can see that that her use of the newspapers of the day would give a special tone and insight that studying books can not. BRAVO SCOTTI!!! ...more
4

Aug 15, 2011

I once viewed Mona Lisa in the Louvre, or, I should say, I caught a glimpse of her behind her protective glass while craning my neck around the heads of people taller than me. It was there, but how anyone could enjoy the experience of viewing it I cannot imagine. But in 1911 in the Louvre, one could get close enough to enjoy the painting - close enough, in fact, to remove it from the wall if one so chose, particularly when the guard was on a lunch break, or when the museum was closed for I once viewed Mona Lisa in the Louvre, or, I should say, I caught a glimpse of her behind her protective glass while craning my neck around the heads of people taller than me. It was there, but how anyone could enjoy the experience of viewing it I cannot imagine. But in 1911 in the Louvre, one could get close enough to enjoy the painting - close enough, in fact, to remove it from the wall if one so chose, particularly when the guard was on a lunch break, or when the museum was closed for cleaning on Mondays. And it was on a Monday that Mona Lisa left the Louvre for a two-year mysterious adventure that had the world completely baffled.

R. A. Scotti really covers all the bases in this short but informative history, filling it with persons famous and infamous, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, all brought together by Leonardo Da Vinci's most famous painting.

The story of Mona Lisa's abduction and return contains a few surprises*, a bit of art history, some detective work, quite a lot of European history and politics, and of course, the famous enigmatic smile.

*I, for one, did not know that Guillaume Appolinaire and Pablo Picasso were suspects in the crime. (!)

"After two frustrating weeks, Lepine believed he had cracked the case. In la bande de Picasso he had found the international ring of art thieves he had been hunting. .... The Picasso 'gang' had been lionized as romantic renegades. When the police identified them as a ring of 'foreign thieves and swindlers who had come to France to plunder its treasure,' escapades once excused as careless exuberance assumed sinister overtones." ...more
3

Apr 10, 2009

This is a decent book, reflected by the middling score that I've given it. I guess I could start with the pros, and work my way to the cons.

On the plus side, it's chock full of sensational facts and history, and the author does a fantastic job of bringing to life the period under discussion.
Also, while some may take issue with the casual fictionalizations of the characters and plot points that R.A. Scotti employs, I thought it was really fun, and certainly made it a more entertaining than a This is a decent book, reflected by the middling score that I've given it. I guess I could start with the pros, and work my way to the cons.

On the plus side, it's chock full of sensational facts and history, and the author does a fantastic job of bringing to life the period under discussion.
Also, while some may take issue with the casual fictionalizations of the characters and plot points that R.A. Scotti employs, I thought it was really fun, and certainly made it a more entertaining than a bare-bones historical non-fiction book would have been on its own.

However, I wasn't really taken with how much time he spent on each individual aspect of the story and the mystery of the disappearance of the Mona Lisa. For me, it would have been a much more engaging read if all of the different threads had been woven together. I would have liked a short bit about the painting itself, a short bit about the culture of the time, a short bit about the Louvre, etc., instead of long passages all about one aspect, then moving on to the next.

All in all, that's a minor complaint, I suppose, but I think it would have helped me get through the book a little faster. Beyond that, while it was a nice read, and the writer certainly has a lot of skill with language and rhetoric, I can't say that the subject matter was really enthralling. I learned a lot from the book, which is what I had hoped for, but it didn't make me want to go out and learn more, which I think can be seen as something of a shortcoming of the book as well.

...more
4

Dec 16, 2018

I was not particularly inspired or moved emotionally by La Joconde when I visited her at the Louvre. I wanted to learn a little bit more about the events that turned her into a global icon, and this book fits that goal nicely. It takes you on the journey of her theft and it's resulting international media circus, and then her recovery and it's resulting media circus.
Sketches of the players, international politics, and historical climate help flush out why the world was willing to be consumed by I was not particularly inspired or moved emotionally by La Joconde when I visited her at the Louvre. I wanted to learn a little bit more about the events that turned her into a global icon, and this book fits that goal nicely. It takes you on the journey of her theft and it's resulting international media circus, and then her recovery and it's resulting media circus.
Sketches of the players, international politics, and historical climate help flush out why the world was willing to be consumed by the myth of La Joconde. Also, the development of sensationalistic journalism, experiencing a peak in the serialization of news stories, is delved into as a contributing factor in the spread of her popularity. ...more
3

Jul 23, 2017

A non-fiction book written in a light, novelistic style about the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. Finger printing had just been invented, photography was just becoming widespread in newspapers, and Sherlock Holmes was at the height of his popularity.

The crime turns out to be not so interesting, and the whole book feels a little insubstantial. More remarkable is that the theft and media coverage are what transformed an accomplished Renaissance art work into an untouchable A non-fiction book written in a light, novelistic style about the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. Finger printing had just been invented, photography was just becoming widespread in newspapers, and Sherlock Holmes was at the height of his popularity.

The crime turns out to be not so interesting, and the whole book feels a little insubstantial. More remarkable is that the theft and media coverage are what transformed an accomplished Renaissance art work into an untouchable icon. The idea of the Mona Lisa is so powerful it means it is impossible to consider the painting as a painting any more, and what I took away from Vanished Smile is if she hadn't been stolen maybe this transformation would not have taken place.

Other things:

Interesting that in a time before the internet, a picture like the Mona Lisa could be the focus of the deranged: It was the only picture in the Louvre to get its own post (love letters), and the year before the theft in 1910 a “heartbroken suitor” shot himself in front of the painting.

Picasso, at the time becoming known for Cubism, is briefly accused of being involved with the theft. In his failure to defend Guillaume Apollinaire from accusation of another art theft and failure to petition Apollinaire’s release from the Nazis he comes across as spineless and viciously self-serving. Though it’s hard to think of a 20th century artist that is not now viewed as a horribly flawed human being. ...more
4

Jul 07, 2018

I wish I had read this book before I saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre! This is a great book of history but the speculations of Mona Lisa are even longer. I can’t wait for more info to be discovered about the painting. The amount of conspiracy theories is just as long. I just googled “Mona Lisa” and a new conspiracy news was posted l5 hours ago! There was a new documentary within the last 30 days. Da Vinci & his works are still an ongoing mystery

I will follow up on the claims in the book I wish I had read this book before I saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre! This is a great book of history but the speculations of Mona Lisa are even longer. I can’t wait for more info to be discovered about the painting. The amount of conspiracy theories is just as long. I just googled “Mona Lisa” and a new conspiracy news was posted l5 hours ago! There was a new documentary within the last 30 days. Da Vinci & his works are still an ongoing mystery

I will follow up on the claims in the book because some were very interesting. My favorites are:

- DaVinci made no mention of Mona Lisa in his personal papers
- He made pre-sketches, notes and kept every paper on every painting he ever did but he has nothing on Mona Lisa
- He never received any commission(s) for the painting, tho he never gave it to the family that ordered the painting yet he would have received a commission up front to start the portrait
- Why did he paint her so plainly for a woman of wealth – no jewelry, no expensive clothes that she owned? She was not nobility but wealthy.
- He strongly refused painting portraits, even from the very powerful noble Italian families, yet he painted a 20yr old wife of a merchant?

Highly recommend this book for history buffs.
...more
5

Feb 12, 2019

Challenge Number 19 in Book Riot's 2019 Read Harder Challenge is "A book of nonviolent true crime." At the suggestion of Vaun Stevens, I read (or rather listened to) R.A. Scotti's Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa. Available (only) as an audiobook through the Montana Library2Go program, Vanished Smile covers not just the 1911 theft of the fabled portrait, but also the Renaissance art world of Da Vinci and his contemporaries, the courts of François 1, Louis XIV, and Napoléon, Challenge Number 19 in Book Riot's 2019 Read Harder Challenge is "A book of nonviolent true crime." At the suggestion of Vaun Stevens, I read (or rather listened to) R.A. Scotti's Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa. Available (only) as an audiobook through the Montana Library2Go program, Vanished Smile covers not just the 1911 theft of the fabled portrait, but also the Renaissance art world of Da Vinci and his contemporaries, the courts of François 1, Louis XIV, and Napoléon, the history of the Louvre itself from medieval fortress, to royal palace, to the premier art museum of France, and the bumbling antics of the Parisian police in trying to recover the painting. I did not know, for instance, that my favorite French poet, Guillaume Apollinaire, was arrested in conjunction with the theft, nor that Picasso himself was taken to jail where he, in a renunciation worthy of St. Peter himself, denied knowing Apollinaire, who prior to the arrest had been one of Picasso's closest friends. The book has my highest recommendation. Definitely a 5 star read! ...more
3

Jan 19, 2018

The story behind the Mona Lisa, its theft, and its fame were all interesting. It shows that a lot of research went into this book. However, some of the writing got a little too florally for my taste, and, at times, some of the "fluff" actually made it difficult to understand what was being said.

Things I learned from this book: Napoleon and at least one king kept this painting hanging in their room above their bed. One king had it in his bathroom. The background of the painting is viewed from a The story behind the Mona Lisa, its theft, and its fame were all interesting. It shows that a lot of research went into this book. However, some of the writing got a little too florally for my taste, and, at times, some of the "fluff" actually made it difficult to understand what was being said.

Things I learned from this book: Napoleon and at least one king kept this painting hanging in their room above their bed. One king had it in his bathroom. The background of the painting is viewed from a different perspective than the Mona Lisa, giving her a bit eerie feeling. She once had eyebrows. For a short while, Picasso was blamed for her theft (as it turns out, he had stolen a statue from the Louvre or at least had someone else steal it for him). Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa with many very thin coats of paint, a type of watercolor technique. Finally, they still don't really know exactly how she was stolen or who the mastermind behind the operation was. The actual thief was quite a simpleton, and there must have been someone else orchestrating the heist. ...more
4

Sep 06, 2018

The second book on the syllabus for my Detective Fiction class, though it's not really detective fiction. This is a work of what I would call creative non-fiction that leans slightly closer to the non-fiction side than the creative side. Everything featured in the book is true. When various theories and stories told in newspapers at the time appear, the author always makes sure to give a caveat about how much this is based in fact and what suggests it might be true or false. I would compare it The second book on the syllabus for my Detective Fiction class, though it's not really detective fiction. This is a work of what I would call creative non-fiction that leans slightly closer to the non-fiction side than the creative side. Everything featured in the book is true. When various theories and stories told in newspapers at the time appear, the author always makes sure to give a caveat about how much this is based in fact and what suggests it might be true or false. I would compare it to Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City in that R. A. Scotti gives ambiance and reconstructs the setting and conversations of the real people featured in the story but sticks strictly to the facts of the case, consulting sources frequently.
I found the subject matter fascinating and the writing superb. It doesn't read like a textbook at all. If you only want to know what happened it might seem a little long and flowery but in the case of this book, it's as much about how the story is being told as the story itself. Personally, I found it entertaining and satisfying. ...more
3

May 11, 2018

It almost seems inconceivable today that the Mona Lisa could go missing. If you go to the Louvre today, the Mona Lisa is protected by two armed bodyguards. She has more security than some people. She also is encased in bullet proof glass. Her fortress is impenetrable; she sits in the keep of the castle where she can rest easy.

But this wasn’t always so. 100 years ago, paintings in the Louvre were hung on the wall without any protection, including the Mona Lisa. In August of 1911, the painting was It almost seems inconceivable today that the Mona Lisa could go missing. If you go to the Louvre today, the Mona Lisa is protected by two armed bodyguards. She has more security than some people. She also is encased in bullet proof glass. Her fortress is impenetrable; she sits in the keep of the castle where she can rest easy.

But this wasn’t always so. 100 years ago, paintings in the Louvre were hung on the wall without any protection, including the Mona Lisa. In August of 1911, the painting was stolen. It would be nearly 48 hours before anyone would notice. Pablo Picasso would be the primary suspect. And R.A. Scotti delivers a delightful tale of the thievery that would make the Mona Lisa famous.

This isn’t a very long book, but the mystery and intrigue give it a sense of momentum. Without giving too much away, I thought the ending was both satisfying and comprehensive enough to satiate all the open ended questions. A nice little read! ...more
5

Feb 27, 2018

True or false: The Mona Lisa was once stolen and to this day no one really knows how or why. True! The incredible story of the theft of the world’s most famous painting combines almost slapstick comedy (seriously – at times you will not be able to even believe that anyone could pull some of these feats off), a brilliantly masterminded heist (the painting was literally stolen off of the wall of the Louvre), and a vast mysterious conspiracy-laden quest that implicated some of the biggest names in True or false: The Mona Lisa was once stolen and to this day no one really knows how or why. True! The incredible story of the theft of the world’s most famous painting combines almost slapstick comedy (seriously – at times you will not be able to even believe that anyone could pull some of these feats off), a brilliantly masterminded heist (the painting was literally stolen off of the wall of the Louvre), and a vast mysterious conspiracy-laden quest that implicated some of the biggest names in the literary and art worlds at the time (including Picasso and the poet Apollinaire). The painting was missing for over two years; many presumed it would never be found and some have questioned whether the “original” hanging in the museum today is in fact the “real” painting. The brazen heist is sure to capture your imagination at least as strongly as the enigmatic smile of its victim…
...more
4

Jul 21, 2019

I bought this book unexpectedly at a thrift shop. At the beginning I thought this was a boring historical book (those ones with way too much information). Surprisingly, I found turning pages until 1-2 am. I loved that the author is giving us little by little pieces of information.. in the perfect dosage. Not too much, and not too vague. Just enough for us to get the big picture. I also liked he incorporated different historical elements depending the context (Picasso-bohemian life in Paris), I bought this book unexpectedly at a thrift shop. At the beginning I thought this was a boring historical book (those ones with way too much information). Surprisingly, I found turning pages until 1-2 am. I loved that the author is giving us little by little pieces of information.. in the perfect dosage. Not too much, and not too vague. Just enough for us to get the big picture. I also liked he incorporated different historical elements depending the context (Picasso-bohemian life in Paris), Mona Lisa Background, the theft, the Louvre, and the hypotheses as to who really stole the Mona Lisa.

I visited the Louvre (and Mona Lisa, of course) back in 2008 and I cant wait to go back knowing what I know now. This book is easy to read, and perfect for a summer vacation getaway. ...more
4

Jun 25, 2019

This is a non-fiction read about the heist of the Mona Lisa in 1911. Not only do we get the facts of that theft, but the author explains to us who the Mona Lisa is, the painting's journey after Leonardo painted her in 1503 and how it ended up in the Louvre in Paris when it was painted in Italy.
Learn how this theft contributed to her mystic making her one of the most famous pieces of art in the world. Interesting fact: Napoleon had her hanging in his bedroom until his downfall, which is a good This is a non-fiction read about the heist of the Mona Lisa in 1911. Not only do we get the facts of that theft, but the author explains to us who the Mona Lisa is, the painting's journey after Leonardo painted her in 1503 and how it ended up in the Louvre in Paris when it was painted in Italy.
Learn how this theft contributed to her mystic making her one of the most famous pieces of art in the world. Interesting fact: Napoleon had her hanging in his bedroom until his downfall, which is a good thing as it kept her safe. Approximately six million people visit her every year, me being one of them.
Great read. ...more
3

Oct 09, 2019

A well-researched 'too true to be strange' tale. The sweep of the theft, spanning from latter-day Belle Epoque to a Hearst-era journalist vying for a comeback in the 1930s, gives it the feel of an art-fraud epic. There are some 'unknowables', particularly given ben trovato reporting, and this inevitably makes the ending a little rushed and sketchy. I would also like R.A. Scotti to have delved more into the role this played in creating and immortalizing the Mona Lisa myth (and whether it was A well-researched 'too true to be strange' tale. The sweep of the theft, spanning from latter-day Belle Epoque to a Hearst-era journalist vying for a comeback in the 1930s, gives it the feel of an art-fraud epic. There are some 'unknowables', particularly given ben trovato reporting, and this inevitably makes the ending a little rushed and sketchy. I would also like R.A. Scotti to have delved more into the role this played in creating and immortalizing the Mona Lisa myth (and whether it was justified is a whole other can of worms no less seething now than in Picasso's day). However, ultimately, solid prose and a strong sense of place and expertise shine throughout. ...more

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