One of the most surprising factoids that I learned when I toured the Louvre Museum in Paris a few years back is that Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa had been stolen back in 1911. As heists go, that’s quite a prestigious booty but then what do you do with it once you’ve nabbed it? It’s not like you can display it in your hoMe…unless you tell visitors it’s a fake and where’s the fun in that?
Maybe you could sell it to some egomaniacal super-villain to hang in his lair but anyone else you approach would probably report you, which is exactly what happened to the real thief, a Louvre employee named Vincenzo Perrugia, when he tried to return the painting to Italy and sell it to a gallery in Florence.
The theft of the Mona Lisa plays a role in two separate events at this month’s Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, a three-week smorgasbord of everything cool, cultural and retro-French (the event’s theme is Paris 1910-20.) On April 9 at 11:00 AM in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater, Astral Artists will present the family-friendly multimedia show Who Stole the Mona Lisa? featuring musicians, storytellers and an animation set to Stravinsky’s Firebird.
Meanwhile, across town, the prestigious Arden Theater is presenting a new play created especially for the festival called Wanamaker’s Pursuit. Set in 1911, the year the Mona Lisa was stolen, the play tells the story of an American department store owner’s son who travels to Paris to buy dresses and has his horizons broadened by Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and designer Paul Poiret. The show runs through May 22. Learn more about both events at http://www.pifa.org (Supported by PIFA). Follow FIFA at http://www.twitter.com/PIFAPhilly
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