The Thefts of the Mona Lisa with Noah Charney


Kelly Macquire
published on 25 April 2024

From the artwork to its theft and role in popular culture, the critically-acclaimed book The Thefts of the Mona Lisa provides the complete story of this work of art, as written by a bestselling, Pulitzer finalist author Noah Charney.

Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait, called the Mona Lisa, is without doubt the world’s most famous painting. It achieved its fame not only because it is a remarkable example of Renaissance portraiture, created by an acclaimed artistic and scientific genius, but because of its criminal history. The Mona Lisa (also called La Gioconda or La Joconde) was stolen on 21 August 1911 by an Italian, Vincenzo Peruggia. Peruggia was under the mistaken impression that the Mona Lisa had been stolen from Italy during the Napoleonic era, and he wished to take back for Italy one of his country’s greatest treasures. His successful theft of the painting from the Louvre, the farcical manhunt that followed, and Peruggia’s subsequent trial in Florence were highly publicized, sparking the attention of the international media, and catapulting an already admired painting into stratospheric heights of fame. This book reveals the art and criminal history of the Mona Lisa.

Charney examines the criminal biography of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, with a focus on separating fact from fiction in the story of what is not only the most famous art heist in history, but which is the single most famous theft of all time. In the process he delves into Leonardo’s creation of the Mona Lisa, discusses why it is so famous, and investigates two other events in its history of theft and renown. First, it examines the so-called “affaire des statuettes,” in which Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire were arrested under suspicion of involvement in the theft of the Mona Lisa. Second, there has long been a question as to whether the Nazis stole the Mona Lisa during the Second World War—a question that this book seeks to resolve.


Why is the Mona Lisa so Famous - written by Noah Charney for TEDed




0:00​ Introduction
0:43 What is the Thefts of the Mona Lisa all about?
2:24 Why did Noah write this book?
4:27 The Theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911
8:49 Was the Mona Lisa already famous before being stolen?
12:41 Different versions of the Mona Lisa?
19:32 Linked art thefts with Pablo Picasso
28:00 Something everyone should know about the book.
30:08 Outro

Leonardo da Vinci
Isabella d'Este'Este/
Reniassance Art

Isabella d'Este the Marchioness of Mantua during Early Renaissance Italy
Elizabethan Theatre, Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare
Unveiling Slavic Myths - A Conversation With Noah And Svetlana
The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

World History Encyclopedia

#monalisa #noahcharney #leonardodavinci

Remove Ads
Subscribe to this author

About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2024, April 25). The Thefts of the Mona Lisa with Noah Charney. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Thefts of the Mona Lisa with Noah Charney." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified April 25, 2024.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Thefts of the Mona Lisa with Noah Charney." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 25 Apr 2024. Web. 20 May 2024.