The most famous smile in the world was briefly obscured Sunday when a man smeared some cream cake over the Mona Lisa, in what seems to have been a climate protest.
The 16th century masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci was untouched, however, as it is protected behind bulletproof glass in the Louvre museum in Paris.
Social media quickly lit up with videos posted by tourists who were in the gallery at the time.
Visitors posted that a man disguised himself as an elderly lady in a wheelchair, presumably in order to gain access to the spot right in front of the painting reserved for the handicapped. Then he stood up and smeared the cream cake over the glass case that protects the Renaissance painting.
Visitors take pictures and video of the painting “Mona Lisa” after cake was smeared on the protective glass at the Louvre Museum in Paris, on May 29, 2022, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video.
As security guards pounced on him, the man, who was wearing a wig and makeup, threw red roses at their feet.
As they led him away, the man told the crowd, in French: “Think about the Earth. There are people who are destroying the Earth. Think about it … all artists, think about the Earth — this is why I did this. Think about the planet.”
The Louvre issued a statement Monday saying the painting had not suffered any damage. The museum said the man had hidden the cake inside his personal belongings.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said Monday that the 36-year-old man was detained following Sunday’s incident and sent to a police psychiatric unit for evaluation. An investigation has been opened on charges of damage of cultural artifacts.