Paris crowds bustling to see the Mona Lisa at the Musée du Louvre on Sunday were shocked to witness a man attempt to smash the protective glass case surrounding the famous portrait, before then smearing cake across its surface. The act of vandalism is thought to have been an environment-related protest.
Eyewitnesses told French press that the man had disguised himself as an "old lady" in a wheelchair, wearing lipstick and a wig. He leapt out of the chair to attack the work and then later threw flower petals on the ground. He has not yet been identified by local media.
Videos shared on social media show the man being escorted out of the gallery by museum security. In French, he says: "Think of the planet… there are people who are destroying the planet, think about that … That's why I did it."
Another video posted on social media shows a member of museum staff cleaning the glass pane while another attendant removes a wheelchair from in front of Leonardo's painting.
A Louvre spokeperson confirms that the museum is pressing charges against the man, and has handed him over to the police, who arrived on the scene shortly after the attack. "The museum salutes the professionalism of its agents who reacted immediately during this incident," a museum spokesperson said in a statement shared with The Art Newspaper. "This incident reminds us that monitoring national collections remains at the heart of our mission."