The Times of London runs an excerpt from R.A. Scotti’s book on the Mona Lisa’s theft at the beginning of the 20th Century. Here he tells the somewhat hilarious story of how Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire were implicated in the crime:
Apollinaire and the artist were leaders of a group loosely known as la bande de Picasso. Familiar from Montmartre to Manhattan as the “Wild Men of Paris”, Picasso’s gang of painters and poets were the outlaws of traditional art. Young, brilliant and ruthlessly ambitious, they strutted through the cobblestone streets of Montmartre and filled the cheap cafes, defining themselves as well as a new creative idiom, breaking the rules to free art from art history.
After two frustrating weeks, Lépine believed he had cracked the case. In la bande de Picasso, he had found the international ring of art thieves he had been hunting.
To the police, the case was persuasive.
Seizing the Mona Lisa was an insolent act in what Apollinaire called “the endless quarrel between Order and Adventure”. It was a declaration of independence.
The Story Behind the Theft of the Mona Lisa (Times of London)