December 12, 1913 Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa is found in a hotel room in Florence, Italy two years after being stolen from the Louvre museum in Paris. The room was being rented by Italian former Louvre worker Vincenzo Peruggia, who was promptly arrested and sentenced to prison, where he served 14 months.
To steal the painting, Peruggia hid in the museum on a Sunday night, knowing that it would be closed to the public the next day. On Monday morning, wearing his employees clothes, he hid the Mona Lisa under his clothes and walked out of the Louvre unchallenged. He kept the painting in his apartment in Paris for two years before trying to sell it to an art dealer in Italy. However, he had not counted on the honesty of the art dealer, who went straight to the police.
Also on December 12: Guglielmo Marconi receives the first transatlantic radio signal (1901); Delhi becomes the capital of India (1911); Kenya gains independence from the UK (1963).
Born on December 12: Gustave Flaubert (1821), Edvard Munch (1863), Frank Sinatra (1915), Dionne Warwick (1940).