Mona Lisa Cake Attacker Explains Why He Did It

An art vandal has spoken out after defacing the priceless portrait of Mona Lisa by smearing cake across her face at the Louvre museum in Paris.

The incident happened in front of a crowd of art fans on Sunday, when a man reportedly disguised as an elderly lady in a wheelchair leaped up to attack the world's most famous painting.

The portrait, by Leonardo da Vinci, is covered with a sheet of protective glass so was not damaged. Footage showed museum staff frantically wiping thick cream away as visitors took photos on their cell phones.

A museum visitor shared footage of the aftermath, tweeting as @lukeXC2002: "Maybe this is just nuts to me but [a] man dressed as an old lady jumps out of a wheel chair and attempted to smash the bullet proof glass of the Mona Lisa. Then proceeds to smear cake on the glass, and throws roses everywhere all before being tackled by security."

The Twitter user posted another video shortly afterwards, showing a young man being led away by security staff who were pushing an empty wheelchair beside him. He wore white jeans and a T-shirt with an orange scarf. He also appeared to be wearing a black wig.

He raised his arms and shouted out in French as he was ushered away: "Think about the Earth, think about the Earth, there are people who are destroying the Earth, think about it! All the artists tell you think about the Earth, all artists think about the Earth, that's why I did this. Think about the Planet!"

His comments sparked reports that the stunt may have been carried out as a climate change protest.

A spokesperson for the Louvre told Newsweek: "A visitor simulated a handicap to use a wheelchair and approach the work installed in a secure display case... Installed near the work, this individual threw a pastry that he had hidden in his personal effects on the [glass covering] the Mona Lisa. This had no effect on the painting, which suffered no damage.

"The individual was immediately seized and evacuated by the reception and surveillance agents and then handed over to the police, who came to the scene. The Louvre Museum filed a complaint.

"The museum salutes the professionalism of its agents who reacted immediately during this incident. It also recalls that monitoring national collections is at the heart of their mission."

Mona Lisa
Visitors take pictures in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum in Paris in October, 2019. A man smeared cake across the famous painting at the weekend. Getty Images

The Mona Lisa, known as La Gioconda by Italians and La Joconde by the French, is thought to be a depiction of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine silk merchant in Florence. The oil painting, which was finished after 1503, has captivated art lovers for centuries thanks to the Mona Lisa's iconic, mysterious smile.

The masterpiece is widely recognized as one of the most valuable paintings in existence. In 1962, it entered the Guinness Book of Records when it was insured for £100 million before a museum tour—the equivalent of more than $870 million today.

The painting has survived a theft in 1911—which helped catapult it to the fame it enjoys today—and several other attacks. It was pelted with rocks in the 1950s, while the same decade also saw a man attempt to destroy it by hurling acid at it. The attacks prompted the Louvre, which has housed the painting for more than 200 years, to cover the artwork in bulletproof glass.

Update 05/30/22, 1:17 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include comment from the Louvre museum.