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Mona Lisa Is Missing 2013

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Alexander Street Press, 350 7th Ave/Ste 1100, New York, NY 10001
Produced by Joe Medeiros
Directed by Joe Medeiros
DVD , color, 88 min.

Jr. High - General Adult
Mona Lisa, Art Thefts

Date Entered: 01/22/2015

Reviewed by Barbara J. Walter, Longmont Public Library, Longmont, CO

The Mona Lisa is the latest in moving pictures.
--quip from a 1911 issue of The Philadelphia Inquirer
How did da Vinci’s Mona Lisa become such an iconic work of art, instantly recognized the world over? And how in the world did an Italian immigrant housepainter manage to steal her from the Louvre, leading authorities on a merry chase for over two years?

In his lighthearted and informative film, director and comedy writer Joe Medeiros goes in search of the truth about Vincenzo Peruggia and his 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa, arguably the most famous art heist of the 20th century. Traveling to Dumenza, Italy, he meets Peruggia’s daughter Celestina, who shares his longing to better understand her father’s decision to steal this priceless painting. Then it’s off to Paris for research: documents from the time of the heist, as well as interviews with experts in various fields, begin to flesh out a picture of Peruggia and his crime. His grandson walks us through the Louvre, retracing his grandfather’s steps and explaining how easily the painting could be stolen at the time. A visit to Peruggia’s apartment in Paris reveals how close authorities came to solving the crime, how assumptions about the perpetrator hampered their investigation.

And then to Florence. Letters to his parents, found in the city archives, shed light on his true motivation for stealing the painting: Peruggia dreamed of returning in triumph to his homeland, bringing with him the Mona Lisa. Spiriting the painting out of France in a trunk with a false bottom, he traveled to Florence to meet an art dealer to negotiate the sale of the Mona Lisa. With a gentle smile, his granddaughter invites us into the tiny hotel room where her grandfather’s dream of a hero’s welcome began to unravel.

Mona Lisa is Missing is a thoroughly entertaining, well-researched look at a fascinating event in art history. Appropriate for libraries supporting studies in art, criminology, French and Italian history/culture, the film is a winning choice for public library collections as well. In English, French and Italian, with English subtitles.


  • Historical Best Documentary, 2013 San Antonio Film Festival
  • Best Documentary, 2013 Amelia Film Festival
  • Audience Choice Award, 2013 RXSM IV Film Festival
  • Best Editing, 2013 Docutah
  • Special Award, 2013 San Joaquin International Film Festival