“Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa” by R.A. Scotti

By Shelly Kilroy, Librarian

Who knew that Leonardo daVinci’s Mona Lisa had been stolen in 1911…and that Pablo Picasso was one of the suspects in the crime? These fascinating topics and more made for a great read and a great discussion when the FMGSP Members’ Art and Gardens Book Discussion Group met in January to discuss Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R.A. Scotti.

Scotti’s book reconstructs what little is known about the theft, the investigators and the suspects, while creating a most interesting picture of the times and culture of the early 1900s as well as fascinating details on the painting in question. All this made for a lively discussion revolving around whether the Mona Lisa would have the same international popularity it enjoys now if it had not been stolen and the world press at the time had not followed the story so closely. Most concluded that she, and her mysterious smile, would still beguile the world whether or not she had disappeared. The one culprit who was captured (there may have been others) said he did it because he wanted to return the Mona Lisa to Italy, its rightful home before, he believed, it had been stolen by Napoleon. This fact led to discussions on whether museums should be allowed to show and profit from works that were obtained as plunder of war or other uncertain means. Many other topics were raised and discussed, making for an enjoyable and thought-provoking afternoon.


Art and Gardens Book Discussion Group is open to members of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Great discussions of great books take place the first Tuesday of each month from 1-3 PM. February’s selection is A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson.

RSVP to Shelly Kilroy at 616-957-3144 or skilroy@meijergardens.org

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