National Public Radio’s All Things Considered goes back to the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa that made it one of the most famous paintings in the world:[audio:http://www.artmarketmonitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/How-the-Mona-Lisa-Became-a-Masterpiece.mp3|titles=How the Mona Lisa Became a Masterpiece]
Before its theft, the “Mona Lisa” was not widely known outside the art world. Leonardo da Vinci painted it in 1507, but it wasn’t until the 1860s that critics began to hail it as a masterwork of Renaissance painting. And that judgment didn’t filter outside a thin slice of French intelligentsia.
“The ‘Mona Lisa’ wasn’t even the most famous painting in its gallery, let alone in the Louvre,” Zug says.