In a Bizarre Stunt, a Wigged Man Smeared Cake All Over the Mona Lisa to Encourage People to ‘Think of the Earth’

The man rolled up in a wheelchair before leaping up and hurling cake at the priceless painting.

Visitors jostling to get a pic of da Vinci's Mona Lisa at the Louvre in France. Photo via Flickr.

An astonishing scene unfolded at the Louvre on Sunday when a man in a wheelchair wearing a wig hurled a handful of cake at the Mona Lisa.

According to videos and eyewitness accounts shared on social media, the perpetrator, who has not been publicly identified, stood up from a wheelchair and approached La Gioconda, first attempting to break the glass before finally deciding to smear cake all over it. Damage to the painting was prevented by a sheet of bulletproof glass installed permanently in front of Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic work.

A video posted online shows the perpetrator speaking to visitors in French as he is escorted away by security.

“There are people destroying the earth,” said the man who wore a ball cap over a black wig. “Artists come now to tell you to think of the earth, all artists think of the earth, that’s why I did this.”

The attack occurred while the gallery was brimming with tourists late Sunday afternoon. One social media user who was there described what he observed: “… [A] man dressed as an old lady jumps out of a wheelchair and attempted to the smash the bullet proof glass of the Mona Lisa,” he tweeted.

Artnet News wrote to the Louvre to confirm whether the man was detained and whether the work was damaged, but did not hear back by publishing time.

This is not the first time the Mona Lisa has been attacked. In 1956, a man threw sulfuric acid at the painting, damaging it. At a Tokyo exhibition in 1974, a woman in a wheelchair unsuccessfully attempted to spray red paint on it, in protest over the work’s lack of accessibility to people needing ramps. In the summer of 2009, a Russian man threw a cup of tea at it.

Since 1960, the Mona Lisa has been protected by a sheet of bullet proof glass, which now includes a sealed enclosure that consists of a 1.52-inch-thick glass able to withstand permanent temperatures of 43 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent humidity.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.