The police photograph and fingerprint record from the arrest of Vincenzo Peruggia. Courtesy of Joe Medeiros For exactly a century, mystery has wrapped the most famous art crime in history - the theft of the Mona Lisa.
What many to consider the greatest portrait of all time, painted by Leonardo da Vinci from 1503 to 1507, disappeared from the Louvre on August 21, 1911. It was stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia (1881-1925), an Italian immigrant who lived in Paris with the masterpiece for over two years.
Peruggia was never apprehended until he returned the Mona Lisa to Florence through an Italian art dealer, claiming he stole the painting to return it patriotically to the Italian people.
However, the case has remained as elusive as the Mona Lisa's smile.
It was hard to believe that Peruggia committed the theft alone, and several conspiracy theories arose.
"The prevailing theory was that he was just a small cog in a grand scheme to sell Mona Lisa forgeries to American millionaires. The theft of the real Mona Lisa was the only way to convince the buyers they were purchasing the real thing," Joe Medeiros, author of the 88-minute documentary "The Missing Piece: The Truth About the Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa," told Discovery News.