Master Forger’s ‘Mona Lisa’ Turns Up in SoHo Café

Mark Landis with his forged copy of the Mona Lisa.
Mark Landis with his forged copy of the Mona Lisa.

For those who haven’t had the chance to travel to Paris’s Louvre for a glimpse of the iconic and fabled work by Leonardo da Vinci, they’ll now have an opportunity to see a Mona Lisa at local New York City coffee shop, Think Coffee. According to Gothamist, the painting was dashed off the Da Vinci copy in just 90 minutes.

The faux Mona Lisa is the work of master forger Mark Landis, who is also the subject of a new documentary, Art and Craft, in theaters now.

In order to avoid confusion with the priceless Renaissance masterpiece, Landis signed his La Gioconda with his own name, reports DNAinfo. The painting is for sale at $25,000 and proceeds will go to benefit the Lauren Rogers Museum in Landis’s hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. Ironically, his hometown institution was among the countless museums that Landis tricked into displaying one of his forgeries during his 30 year career as a con artist.

During his decades spent painting and donating forgeries, Landis’s intentions were never malicious. He used elaborate costumes (sometimes dressing as a priest) and provenance documentation to dupe museum professionals into thinking his expertly copied works were the real thing, and he enjoyed seeing them hung in the institutions as the real deal.

mona-lisa-think-coffee-mark-landis

Mark Landis’s Mona Lisa at Think Coffee.
Photo: @love_you_deerly/Instagram.

Landis was always difficult to track down since he often gave bogus names and addresses to museums, but Matthew Leininger, the director of museum services at the Cincinnati Art Museum, has been following the elusive Landis for almost four years now, obsessively tracking down his forgeries—lending their relationship a cat-and-mouse quality more familiar from prime time crime dramas.

Those who stop by Think Coffee to see Landis’s Mona Lisa can then go four blocks south to see Art and Craft at the Angelika Film Center.

Watch the trailer for Art and Craft:


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