Mona Lisa survives cake attack in latest act of vandalism

From sulfuric acid to ceramic mugs, this is everything that the iconic painting has survived so far.

Yesterday, (29th March) Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece was on the receiving end of its latest and strangest act of vandalism. 

The painting, which is housed inside the Louvre museum in Paris, was vandalised by a man in a wheelchair disguised as an old woman. According to reports, the unidentified individual stood up, took off his wig and smashed cake all over the piece of art. As the culprit was escorted out of the museum, he said in French, “Think about the Earth. Think about the Earth, there are people who are destroying the Earth. Think about it. All artists think about the Earth. That’s why I did this. Think about the planet.”

The plan didn’t exactly work out as well as the individual had hoped as the Mona Lisa is protected by a layer of glass which was easily wiped clean after the incident.

With such notoriety, it’s no surprise that there’s been no less than five attempts to deface La Gioconda over the years. Read below to get the lowdown on all of these attempts.

1956 – Sulfuric Acid

Before Da Vinci’s most popular and significant artwork could be encased in bullet proof glass, it once suffered hugely at the hands of an attacker, who threw sulphuric acid on it and doused the lower half of the painting in acid. This incident prompted the installation of bullet proof glass which didn’t exactly help either…

1956 – The Rock Incident

It didn’t take long for someone else to try their luck at defacing the Mona Lisa. The bullet proof glass wasn’t enough to deter Ugo Ungaza Villegas, a young Bolivian, who flung a rock at the painting. Hilariously, the rock somehow still managed to bypass the bulletproof glass and chipped a section of the painting near the elbow. Allegedly, Villegas was a homeless man who wanted to go to prison so he could have a warm bed to sleep in. The piece of art was then restored and the glass refortified after the attack.

1974 – Spray Paint

In 1974, when the painting was on loan at the Tokyo National Museum, a handicapped woman, angered by the lack of disabled access, spray-painted the artwork with red paint. Apparently about 20 or 30 spots of paint hit the bulletproof glass. Apparently, the woman shouted “Down with Mona Lisa” before pulling out a can of spray paint and letting loose. Luckily she didn’t do too much damage. 

2009 – Ceramic Mug

In 2009 a female Russian visitor threw a ceramic mug directly at the glass casing. The mug, which was apparently bought at the Louvre’s gift shop, shattered against the bulletproof glass case. The case was so strong that the floor merely had to be swept, and the viewing room wasn’t even closed after the attempted vandal was apprehended. The woman, described as “visibly upset”, later told police she was frustrated that she had not been granted French citizenship. She underwent psychiatric testing and was released.

Although it’s one of the most heavily secured works of art in the world, it seems that due to its notoriety, the Mona Lisa will always be a target for those wanting to make a statement.

  • Writer Chris Saunders
  • Banner Image Credit Unsplash

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