The story behind the Mona Lisa heist


The Mona Lisa image is probably one of the most popular and recognizable in the history of art. For centuries the heist of the Mona Lisa painting has been shrouded in mystery. However, it seems that now 100 years after the crime we have found out the truth about the man who stole the piece.

The article The story behind the Mona Lisa heist on tells us the inside story of the theft. The article could be excellent material for a lesson about crime with your students.

As a warm up you can ask students to match the biggest art thefts in history with their dates. You can find the list following this link:–Matisse-stolen-lone-robber-Museum-Modern-Art.html#ixzz1WcQdZbfP. Then, ask them what appears to be the most famous case of art theft in history and what they know about the Mona Lisa painting.

Before you give students the article, divide them into groups: give each group photos of Peruggia together with a small profile e.g. The painting disappeared from the Louvre on August 21, 1911. It was stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian immigrant who lived in Paris. Ask students to work in groups and be crime profilers: how they think the painting was stolen, what for, what happened to Peruggia and how the painting was found. Then give them the article and check how close their stories are to the original story. Ask students what the differences are and what they find surprising about the theft.

You can also find activities focused on art on the English Campus:

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art”
“What kinds of paintings are they?”
“A biography of Andy Warhol”
“Salvador Dali”
“An interview with Picasso”

You can also find some lesson ideas on

Art gallery:

A fun warmer where students create an art gallery on a board:


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