Yes, The Mona Lisa Really Was Vandalized With Cake

Hold on to your Bordeaux. On Sunday, May 29 a 36-year-old disguised as an elderly person — wearing a wig and lipstick and sitting in a wheelchair — smeared da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa with cake, according to The Guardian.

At least one onlooker posted an eyewitness video on Twitter, describing how they perceived the full incident in their caption: a person in disguise leapt from a wheelchair and attempted to smash the glass encasing the Mona Lisa. When the glass failed to break, they smeared frosting across it and threw several handfuls of rose petals into the air before being escorted away.

The stunt was apparently intended as a climate protest. As the vandalizer was being led away by Louvre security, they yelled in French to visitors, "There are people who are destroying the Earth ...  All artists, think about the Earth. That's why I did this. Think of the planet." The person has since been arrested and transferred to psychiatric care.

Per CNN, a spokesperson from the Louvre explained that visitors in wheelchairs are permitted in front of others to be able to fully see the works. By masquerading as a guest with a disability, the attempted-vandalizer was able to maneuver to the front of the crowd without arousing suspicion. Luckily, the spokesperson says, the Mona Lisa was in no way damaged or otherwise affected by the stunt. The would-be vandalism was prevented by the glass case intended to protect the painting from direct contact.

Muse under fire

This is not the first time tragedy (attempted or otherwise) has befallen the Italian Renaissance masterpiece. Since her creation around 1507, there have been multiple attempts to ruin the famous painting, per the Smithsonian.

According to the Louvre website, the Mona Lisa was stolen by a museum employee in 1911 and remained missing for more than two years before being recovered. An Italian art dealer informed authorities when the former employee tried to sell them what the museum itself describes as "the world's most famous painting." The painting was placed behind protective glass in the 1950s after two attacks: one visitor poured acid on it while another threw a rock, causing permanent damage around her left elbow. In 2009, a visitor hurled a teacup at the Mona Lisa, scratching the glass but otherwise leaving the painting unharmed. In 2019 the original bulletproof casing was replaced by the clearer, more transparent glass that it rests behind today, much to the relief of art lovers.

Despite many attempts to ruin the da Vinci painting, patrons of the arts can still visit the centuries-old muse at the Louvre today, where she has been on display since the 1800s (via PBS).