Unusual Suspects

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An entire week had passed. The spot formerly occupied by Da Vinci’s masterpiece stood bare. At the Louvre’s reopening a week after the theft, people waited for hours just to see the lady’s former residence. Some estimated that more people came to view the void hooks than had previously come to view the painting that once hung there.

Thanks to the growing use of photography in newsprint, Mona Lisa and her smile had become the talk of the world. Millions of people who had never heard of “la Joconde” were now falling under her spell over their morning coffee.

Newspapers anxious for attention offered cash rewards and promises of anonymity if only the thief would return the painting to their Paris office. One office had a form of success when a thief confessed to them that he had stolen many small statuettes from the halls of the Louvre. His admission was put in print; when detectives saw the thief’s nom de plume, their suspect field narrowed considerably. The detectives believed that Mona Lisa was removed by an international band of art thieves. The group was known as “la bande de Picasso”. They were led by Pablo Picasso himself.

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