Museun Louvre Burnt Down

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Guillaume Apollinaire
In Paris Guillaume Apollinaire mingled in the bohemian artist circles. Through his great verbal talent, both in speech and in writing, he soon became a leading character there. Among his closest friends were Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, André Billy, Eric Satie, and others. He became violently infatuated with his female fellow artists, especially with Marie Laurencin, to whom he dedicated a great part of his poetical production. Throughout his lifetime, his strongest bonds, however, were those to his mother. 

When Apollinaire's office went bankrupt and he became unemployed, he started to publish pornographic books, together with a former school mate from Nice. Thus he accumulated enough money to make possible his later literary activities in magazines and publication of poetry collections.

The Mona Lisa painting now hangs in the Musée du Louvre in Paris. The painting’s increasing fame was further emphasized when it was stolen on August 21, 1911. The next day, painter Louis Béroud discovered the four iron pegs where the painting should have been and initially thought it had been taken for promotional photographs. French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be “burnt down,” came under suspicion. On September 7, 1911, he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire tried to implicate his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.

The story gets more interesting, as the painting was thought to have been lost forever. It took two years to find the lost painting. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia had stolen it and hid in a broom closet until after hours. He kept it in his apartment for two years before selling it to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. He was hailed as a patriot for returning the Italian painting and only served six months in jail.


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