Did Picasso Steal the Mona Lisa?

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North Korea DPR 1986 stamp printed in DPR Korea shows Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

The mystery of whether or not Pablo Picasso stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911 is one that has been debated for decades. 

A new article published by a French Newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, claims that a furniture maker who worked for Picasso had given numerous interviews in the years following his death claiming to have been aware of the theft and claiming to have helped cover it up.

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In what would seem like an open and shut case of guilt, many scholars question why no evidence was ever found which verifies these claims against Picasso. What is interesting is that no evidence was ever found for this claim in the first place. 

Years ago, a photograph of the alleged Mona Lisa theft in Paris was discovered by a researcher who was trying to prove the artist’s innocence.

In this photograph, one could clearly see Picasso’s brother, Paulette and his friend Raphael Semain with the disputed painting in their possession.

Here are some points discussed-

1. The stolen painting was never found

In fact, the only proof of any kind of theft was a photograph of Picasso and his brother with the Mona Lisa in their possession. However, this photograph was first discovered by a researcher who was trying to prove that Picasso did not steal the painting.

2. There were no witnesses to this alleged crime

Picasso’s brother and friend may have had possession of the painting at one point, but they certainly did not have it in 1911 when the theft supposedly occurred. It would be impossible for them to get it out without being seen by those around them.

3. Even if the theft did occur, how could it have been covered up

It seems crazy that a painting would be stolen, and no one would spot it. Perhaps someone from the museum may have seen them with it, but even if that was the case, one can only imagine what would happen as a consequence. Such an art theft would surely bring heavy legal trouble and accusations against those involved.

4. The painting was never actually stolen in 1911

In fact, there is speculation that Picasso may have taken the picture of his sister or lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter and painted over the original. Even if one was to think that this is a ridiculous claim, the image in the Parisian news does not look similar to any version of the Mona Lisa that is known.

5. Other versions of the painting have been found but not the original

In fact, there are other versions of this painting, one which was sold for $1.3 million at auction and another which is currently on display at the Museo Picasso in Barcelona. However, despite these examples being discovered and verified as authentic paintings by Picasso, there has yet to be found any evidence that would confirm his involvement with stealing the original.

6. If the theft did take place, how could it have been covered up

It would be almost impossible for Picasso to cover up such a crime. Even if there were no witnesses to the act, it is impossible to imagine that someone would not notice them carrying another painting around. 

Furthermore, Picasso’s brother and friend were in Paris at the time of the supposed theft in 1911. It would be almost impossible for them to get past customs with a Mona Lisa painting without being stopped and arrested by authorities.

7. Picasso had connections with the French authorities

Picasso was known to be a favorite of the French police. He even helped design their badge in 1937. Surely, if he had indeed stolen the painting, then they would have arrested him.

8. The true artist behind Mona Lisa is unknown

It is interesting to note that despite all of these theories, the true artist behind this masterpiece is still unknown. No one has actually been able to prove who painted the original and how this masterpiece was created in the first place.

The article goes on to state that this new information about Picasso is, in fact, verified by a new book that was released by French writer and journalist David Trotignon. In the book Picasso L’Amour Fou, Trotignon claims that Fernande Olivier (Picasso’s lover and muse) had refused to speak of the theft out of respect for his wishes.

According to an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche, Trotignon claims that he did not believe the story at all until he went through her notes and diaries as research for his book. There are also other witnesses who had already come forward before him claiming to have personal knowledge about this alleged crime.

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