A 36-year-old man has been arrested and put into psychiatric treatment after smearing a cake on the pane of glass that enveloped the Mona Lisa in an alleged protest against artists who did not focus enough on “the planet”.
Officials at the Louvre Museum in Paris, where the mysterious painting takes center stage, declined to comment on Sunday’s bizarre incident, which was captured on several phones and widely shared on social media.
The works of Leonardo da Vinci, which were the target of attempts at vandalism in the past, remained intact thanks to their bulletproof glass case.
A Twitter user known as Lukeee posted a video showing a museum employee wiping a glass towel and another showing a man in white being led away by security guards.
“A man dressed as an old lady jumps out of a wheelchair and tries to smash the bulletproof glass of the Mona Lisa. Then he smears the cake on the glass and throws roses everywhere before security attacks him.”
In French, the man in the video says: “There are people who are destroying the Earth.. All artists, think of the Earth. That’s why I did it. Think of the planet.”
No photos have appeared showing the actual accident.
The Paris public prosecutor said he launched an investigation into an attempt to destroy a cultural work.
The Mona Lisa has been behind glass since a Bolivian threw a stone at the painting in December 1956, damaging her left elbow. In 2005 it was installed in a hardened casing that also controls temperature and humidity.
In 2009, a Russian woman threw an empty teacup at the plate, slightly scratching the casing.
The Louvre is the largest museum in the world, housing hundreds of thousands of works that attracted around 10 million visitors a year before the Covid-19 pandemic.