The man wearing a wig and seated in a wheelchair wanted, by his gesture, to urge visitors to “think about the planet” .
She has not lost her legendary smile, thanks to its protective glass: The Mona Lisa , one of the most famous paintings in the world, was encrusted on Sunday at the Louvre Museum in Paris, without consequence since it is placed behind a armored glass, according to accounts on social media.
After this incident, a 36-year-old man was admitted to the psychiatric infirmary of the police headquarters on Sunday and an investigation opened for “attempt to damage cultural property”, we learned on Monday from the public prosecutor’s office. Paris. Solicited Sunday evening by AFP, the Louvre museum replied Monday that it did not wish to comment.
According to photos and testimonies posted by tourists on Twitter or Instagram on Sunday, the incident happened in the early afternoon. Several photos show the protective glass of the Mona Lisa smeared with cream, being cleaned by a man who appears to be a museum guard.
“Think of the Earth. That’s why I did it”
A Twitter user, who says he was present during the incident, claims the perpetrator was a disguised man with a wig, who got up from a wheelchair to hit the bulletproof glass, before to throw a cake at her.
This user also publishes a video in which we see the man in question standing next to his wheelchair and escorted by security. “There are people who are destroying the Earth (…) All artists, think of the Earth. That’s why I did this. Think of the planet” , says, in French, the man dressed in white, wig and cap on his head.
In other images, the wheelchair can be seen placed behind the safety railing which visitors should not normally pass. No photos or videos captured the incident itself.
This is not the first time that Leonardo da Vinci’s painting has been the victim of vandalism. In August 2009, a Russian visitor to the Louvre was arrested after throwing an empty teacup in the direction of La Joconde . The museum then explained that the cup had broken against the armored display case, which had been very slightly scratched.
In December 1956, a Bolivian threw a stone at La Joconde , damaging the paint on the left elbow. After that, the portrait was placed behind a display case. Presented since 2005 behind armored glass, hung in a box where humidity and temperature are controlled, the Mona Lisa sees several million people parade each year who come to admire it in the most frequented museum in the world (ten million visitors per year before Covid-19).