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How did a simple immigrant housepainter from Italy pull off the greatest little-known art heist in modern time? Was his motivation more than money?
Writer-director Joe Medeiros traces the path of Vincenzo Peruggia, charged with the 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa from the Louvre, and finds the story of a daughter mourning the father she never knew and a country recovering from old wounds. Combining historical photographs, animation, and interviews with Peruggia’s descendants, Medeiros answers why and how Peruggia absconded with and kept the legendary painting in his dingy room in a Parisian ghetto for nearly two and a half years.
This riveting, often humorous documentary portrays a man struggling to find his way in the world and make his family proud. The film also puts to rest a number of myths about Peruggia’s unthinkable theft by telling the story through the original police reports and first-hand accounts found in the French and Italian archives, especially Peruggia's own letters and testimony.
Mona Lisa Is Missing also features interviews with the leading art and art crime experts in the world, including Milton Esterow, editor and Publisher of ARTnews; noted historian Donald Sassoon; former head of the FBI art crime unit, Robert Wittman; Charles Hill, formerly of Scotland Yard; as well as officials of the Musée du Louvre and Uffizi Gallery.
"Very enjoyable, professionally comedic without being either maudlin or sensational. . .The heart in the production is so clear and so profoundly understated."
- Dennis McNally, S.S.J Professor of Art, St. Joseph’s University
"As an altogether vivid and charming human-interest story. . . a cinematic romp! This is a film that will captivate adult viewers. . . middle-school students, high-school students, and college students alike!"
- Richard Wertime, Director of Graduate Studies of English and the Humanities, Arcadia University
"Mona Lisa is Missing is far more than a film documenting one of history’s great mysteries; the filmmakers convey the complexities, pitfalls, and possibilities of historical research. . . The film reveals there is so much more behind the fantastic story of the theft of the Mona Lisa."
- Kathryn L. Jasper, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Illinois State University
"A thoroughly engaging film. . ."
- Louis Mangione, Associate Professor and Acting Chair of the Department of French, German, Italian, and Slavic, Temple University
Alan Lessoff, Editor, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Professor of History, Illinois State University
"This is not your typical documentary shown in history classes, and I strongly recommend teachers utilize it not only in European or World History classes, but also in Fine Arts classes as well."
- William O’Brien, Advanced Placement European History Teacher, Revere High School
"Mona Lisa is Missing is a perfect film for 6th-12th grade students. Hugely entertaining, it will make history come alive for students who are studying history and art."
- Ronald Kaiser, Prinicpal, Lindero Canyon Middle School