The Story Behind the Mona Lisa Heist

Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. Red chalk....

Image via Wikipedia

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 living in Paris who lived 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.

News: Dig for Mona Lisa’s Bones to Begin

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.

Medeiros, the former head writer for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” acquired copies of 1500 documents in the French an Italian archives, including police files and court documents, and finally discovered that money -– not really patriotism –- lay behind the famous theft.

Vincenzo Peruggia. Italy State Police/Wikimedia

In an attempt to find clues about Peruggia the man — who he was, what he thought and why he stole the painting — Medeiros met with Peruggia’s daughter Celestina in Italy.

But Celestina, who passed away in March at 87, knew very little about father.

“He died when she was a toddler,” said Medeiros.

Blog: Mona Lisa’s Smile Hides Da Vinci’s Technique

The filmmaker went to the Louvre and re-traced the route Perruggia took to steal the painting.

At the time of the theft, Peruggia was a 29 year-old housepainter who had worked at the Louvre for a short time helping cover 1600 masterpieces with glass to protect them from vandalism.

Peruggia became familiar with all the Italian art and wondered why it was in a French museum.

He read that Napoleon had looted Italy’s art treasures when he conquered the country and brought them back to Paris. Thus he believed that all the Italian art in the Louvre was there illegally and decided to bring one picture back to its country.

News: Nude, Mona Lisa-Like Painting Surfaces

Unaware that the Mona Lisa was sold by Leonardo da Vinci himself to King Francois I of France, he turned to this painting because it was small and easy to carry.

“He stole the masterpiece by simply walking into the museum on a Monday when the Louvre was closed for cleaning. He was dressed in a white smock and thus blended in with he other workers,” said Medeiros.

It was the easiest task: Peruggia removed the painting from the wall, took it from its frame and walked out of the museum with the Mona Lisa under his arm, wrapped in his smock.

The theft wasn’t discovered until the next day because the Louvre guards assumed the masterpiece was with the museum photographer.


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No Technical Know-How Needed: Endless Forms Web Site Helps Users ‘Breed’ 3-D Printable Objects

Forget draft tables and complicated computer-aided design programs: You dream it. Endless Forms helps you design it.

Cornell University engineers are allowing anyone to point, click, collaborate and create online in the evolution of printable, three-dimensional objects. They aim to transform the design of art, architecture and artificial intelligence.

Their new, interactive website, allows users to design their own things — from lamps and butterflies to furniture and faces — without any technical knowledge and using the same principles that guide evolutionary biology.

The Web site was developed by Jeff Clune, Cornell postdoctoral fellow; Jason Yosinski, Cornell graduate student in engineering; and Eugene Doan, Cornell undergraduate student in the Creative Machines lab of Hod Lipson, Cornell associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and computing and information science.

EndlessForms users can develop objects just as gardeners raise roses — a “generation” of objects is displayed, and a user chooses objects they like, which are “bred” to produce the next generation. Over time, objects evolve and users can publish these objects. Others can further evolve, share and rate them, creating a collaborative exploration of designs that, according to Lipson, represents an entirely new way of thinking about design. Users can then have their objects made by 3-D printing companies in a wide range of materials, such as silver, steel, ceramic or sandstone.

The concept eliminates the need for skilled engineers to draw in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programs, which can be complicated and non-intuitive. These new design tools free people to focus creativity, instead of being mired in technical details, Lipson said.

Now that 3-D printing is taking off, the goal is to unshackle the design process, flooding the industry with objects that are truly one of a kind. Lipson likens the 3-D printing industry to iPods with no music — the printers exist, but the availability of content is bottlenecked by the old methods like CAD that few people know how to use and that stifle creativity.

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Go to to try it out yourself!!

Beyond Silence Digital Piano for Hearing Impaired People

Beyond Silence digital piano is a concept music instrument for hearing impaired people, especially children. It would be pretty difficult to grasp the idea of hearing impaired people listen to the music. How can they enjoy the music when they don’t even hear the sound?

Designers : Hakyung Kim, Jina Kim and Suyoung Lee

People think hearing is the only way to enjoy the music, thus, isolating hearing-impaired people from the music. To challenge this perception, three Korean industrial designers have come up with “Beyond Silence” concept, focusing on the fact that hearing-impaired people can sense and feel the vibrationof the music.

This concept also helps children to play the piano by feeling the wave and vibration of each tune from the resonance board. The bottom part of Beyond Silence digital piano concept has been designed with a diaphragm to create stronger vibrations and music waves for other hearing-impaired people to feel on the ground.



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Tell the Time Using Only Your Breath

Wouldn’t it be great to feel powerful, at least as far as your gadgets are concerned? The Eole watch is a timepiece designed by Julien Moise that works under the user’s own breath power. The delicate rotating bit moves with nothing more than a gentle puff of air from the wearer’s lungs.

While the watch’s parts are sitting still the display is blank. But when the wearer exhales, the tiny rotor turns and enough electricity is generated to turn on the delicate-looking display for a moment, giving you just enough time to see whether you’re late for that appointment.



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Brilliantly Brainy: Do Art Cars Dream of Electric Beeps?


Most drivers have a very strong connection to their vehicles. It’s almost as though our cars are an extension of our own bodies; we ride around in our metal and plastic cocoons, seeing the world through the attached windows and mirrors. But what if our cars themselves had memories and dreams?


The Brain Car is a moving sculpture from artist Olaf Mooij. On the back of an old hearse sits a huge brain-like sculpture that looks awesome enough by day. But by night, it lights up with another type of awesome entirely.

All day as it is traveling, the Brain Car records images of where it goes and the sights it encounters. Then after dark, the Brain Car remixes those “memories” and an interior projector replays on the inside surface of the brain.


Read more here: gajitz

Can We Change our Behavior to Make Us Happier?

This is a fun and creative title sequence for “The Happy Film” (scheduled to be released in 2012). It was directed by reknown designers Stefan Sagmeister and Hillman Curtis, produced by Ben Nabors, and cinematography by Ben Wolf.

Notes about the movie (from official website):

The Happy Film takes a look at the strategies serious psychologists ‘recommend to improve one’s personal well-being and overall happiness. Questions such as ‘Is it possible to train our mind in the same way’ that we train our bodies?’ and ‘Can we change our behavior to make’us happier?’ will be put to the test in this highly visual documentary.

Designer Stefan Sagmeister will attempt a long list of various strategies – ‘from the sublime to the ridiculous – and report back on the results. ‘The documentary’s experiments and explorations are loosely based on Stefan’s book Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far. Though the focus will be on the ability of meditation, cognitive therapy, and pharmaceuticals to significantly alter well-being – the maxims from his book will ‘serve as access points to a larger exploration of happiness, it’s cultural’ significance, our constant pursuit of it, and its uniquely ephemeral nature. Throughout these experiments, our team will work closely with a group’ of health professionals to properly define and assess Stefan’s happiness.

Links via: Film stills © The Happy Film Link via Boooooom  &