It was the perfect museum heist. Not only had a stealthy thief walked away with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the most famous painting in the world; a full day passed before the painting was even missed. Vanished Smile takes you inside the story of the 1911 theft, an act so unfathomable that thousands of Parisians flocked to the Louvre to view the empty space where the painting had once hung. Modern-day readers will be equally struck by the names of the prime suspects fingered by the police: Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Appolinaire. R. A. Scotti's book combines the most seductive features of a mystery, a love story, and a micro-history.
…this tale has been related before. But Ms. Scotti's book shows that this recondite shaggy-dog story is well worth revisiting…It's a rolling, clattering piece of entertainment. Ms. Scotti reminds us of the bedrock appeal of the Mona Lisa's gaze: "Each person who looks at her becomes the only person in her world."
The New York Times
…beguiling…An absence of clues meant an abundance of theories, and Scotti advances them all in a collection of arresting but disparate narratives.
The New York Times
In this charming account of the brazen 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre and the two-year quest to bring her home, Scotti (Basilica) explores not only the puzzling crime but also the source of the painting's universal appeal and its provenance. On the morning of Tuesday, August 22, La Joconde was found missing from the Salon Carré. Even with help of renowned French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon, the trail was cold from the start. Rumors abounded about greedy, wealthy American collectors and the Louvre's lax security. No one in Paris was above suspicion, not even the young Pablo Picasso. While the portrait was finally recovered in Florence in 1913, its theft apparently the result of a young Italian's misguided patriotism (the painting's probable subject is a young Florentine, Lisa del Giocondo), Scotti is eager to remind readers that the mystery is far from over. The true motive for the theft-and the possible connection to a larger ring of art thieves-remains tantalizingly unknown by the end of this lively recounting. Photos. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Rigorous study of the circumstances, theories and individuals surrounding the 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci's famous masterpiece. Since her creation in 1503, Mona Lisa has served as muse, riddle and obsession for scholars, scientists, musicians, writers and art patrons. At the height of Europe's Belle Epoque, she disappeared, seemingly right from under the noses of Louvre guards, plunging the worlds of both high culture and regular society into grief and outrage. For more than two years, rumors, parody and scandalous accusations peppered global headlines, as investigators struggled to piece together the crime and, most crucially, identify the culprit. Citizens of every echelon were suspect, from museum employees to denizens of the art world, including painters, collectors and dealers. Various theories of collaborations and plots swirled around for decades. Scotti (Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's, 2006, etc.) masterfully excavates historical truths and brazen speculations, deftly interlacing them into a gracefully crafted account that weds heady prose to shrewd investigative journalism. Her elegant yet bold reconsideration of the most famous art crime in history offers a rare meditation on the notion of motive. Analyzing a work of art that has been anthropomorphized into mythic status for five centuries, Scotti nails it: "When Mona Lisa slipped out of her frames, she seemed to change from a missing masterpiece to a missing person. She came alive in the popular imagination. The public felt her loss as emotionally as an abduction or kidnapping." More nuanced and focused than Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler's The Crimes of Paris (2009), Scotti's inquiry peels awayveils of hearsay and sensationalism to reveal a caper as enigmatic as its victim. Mystery fans, history buffs and culture vultures alike will savor this delectable immersion in the mindset of an age. First printing of 150,000. Author tour to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Washington, D.C.
“R.A. Scotti’s pen is as deft as Leonardo’s brush. . . . Sublime.” —The Washington Times
“Luminous…. Scotti narrates the investigation with gusto and grace.” —The Washington Post Book World
“A story that La Gioconda herself would have smiled at—enigmatically, of course.” —Time
“Beguiling…. An absence of clues meant an abundance of theories, and Scotti advances them all in an arresting…narrative.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Elegant and erudite…. Scotti follows the trail of the missing masterpiece with the same zestful sense of adventure that she brought to Basilica…. An unabashed literary diva, Scotti commands attention from page one.” —The Boston Globe
“The painting was missing for more than two years, and the names of the prime suspects in the case—Pablo Picasso and his friend, the poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire—push this story past something even Dan Brown could concoct. . . . A rolling . . . piece of entertainment. . . . Reminds us of the bedrock appeal of the Mona Lisa’s gaze.” —The New York Times
“Captivating. . . . Scotti’s sophistication, wit, style, and illuminating research makes this a delightfully suspenseful read.” —Providence Journal
“A charming [book] that delves deeper into the mystique of the Mona Lisa herself. . . . Readers hankering for more of da Vinci and his enigmatic sitter, whose smooth smile has been bewitching men for centuries . . . should reach for Vanished Smile.” —St. Petersburg Times
“Equal parts art history and crime caper. . . . This rollicking tale makes for fascinating reading.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Reads like a prose poem with narrative gallop.” —Time
“Superb. . . . An art-heist page-turner that will delight art enthusiasts as well as true-crime buffs. (Note to Hollywood: This may be your best hope for a caper starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney as Picasso and Apollinaire.)” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“As full of twists, turns and suspense as any mystery novel. . . . Makes the Mona Lisa's story even more significant—and her smile even more alluring.” —BookPage
“Remarkable. . . . R.A. Scott combines her skills as a historian and novelist to recreate this sensational crime, which has all the twists and turns of a mystery novel, except that it’s true.” —Florida Weekly
“A book that nonfiction lovers, true-crime lovers, and especially art lovers will thoroughly enjoy.” —Curled Up With a Good Book
“Who needs The Da Vinci Code when you can have the real thing?” —The Daily Beast
“An apt tribute to Leonardo da Vinci’s mysterious muse. . . . In Vanished Smile, R.A. Scotti deftly uncovers the mysterious theft of the art world’s prima donna. . . . Thanks to Scotti’s meticulous research and atmospheric writing, a crime that had all the trappings of insanity, national prestige and obsession is brought to light marvelously.” —The Business Standard
“A crime caper . . . that convey[s] l’air du temps. . . . Enthralling.” —Financial Times