A 36-year-old man has been arrested and placed in psychiatric care after he smeared the Mona Lisa with cake in a purported protest against artists not focussing enough on “the planet”.
The most famous portrait in the world had her cake and ate it too after a man disguised as an elderly woman attempted to smash the painting’s protective glass before smearing the surface with dessert on Sunday.
Footage captured inside the Louvre Museum in Paris shows the man, dressed in a wig and wearing lipstick, leaping out of a wheelchair before his act of vandalism.
A Twitter user identified as Lukeee posted a video showing a museum employee wiping what he says is cake off the glass and another showing a man dressed in white being escorted away by security guards.
“A man dressed as an old lady jumps out of a wheelchair and attempted to smash the bulletproof glass of the Mona Lisa. Then proceeds to smear cake on the glass and throws roses everywhere, all before being tackled by security,” Lukeee wrote.
“There are people who are destroying the Earth…,” says the man in another video, speaking French and indicating the incident had an environmental motive.
“All artists, think about the Earth. That’s why I did this. Think of the planet,” he said.
The treasured work by Leonardo da Vinci, which has been the target of vandalism attempts in the past, was unharmed thanks to its bulletproof glass case.
An inquiry into “an attempt to vandalise a cultural work” has been opened, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
The Mona Lisa has been behind glass since a Bolivian man threw a rock at the painting in December 1956, damaging her left elbow. In 2005, it was placed in a reinforced case that also controls temperature and humidity.
In 2009, a Russian woman threw an empty teacup at the painting, which slightly scratched the case.
The Louvre is the largest museum in the world, housing hundreds of thousands of works, and attracted 10 million visitors a year before the COVID-19 pandemic.