PARIS (AP) — A man apparently dressed as an old woman in a wheelchair threw a piece of cake at the glass protecting the Mona Lisa at the Louvre museum and shouted at people to think about planet Earth.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Monday that the 36-year-old had been taken into custody following Sunday’s incident and sent to a police psychiatric unit. An investigation has been opened into the damage to cultural artifacts.
Videos posted on social media showed a young man in a wig and lipstick arriving in a wheelchair. The man, whose identity was unknown, was also seen tossing roses around the museum’s gallery to slack-jawed guests.
The attack on the cake left a conspicuous white creamy stain on the glass, but Leonardo da Vinci’s famous artwork was undamaged.
Security guards were filmed escorting the wig-wearing man as he called surprised visitors into the gallery: “Think of the Earth! There are people destroying the Earth! Think about it. Artists tell you: think of the Earth. That’s why I did this.
Guards were then filmed cleaning the cake from the glass. A statement from the Louvre confirmed the attack on the artwork involving a “pastry shop“.
The 16th century Renaissance masterpiece has seen a lot in its more than 500 years of existence.
The painting was stolen in 1911 by a museum employee, an event that increased the painting’s international fame. It was also damaged in an acid attack by a vandal in the 1950s, and has since been kept behind glass.
In 2009, a Russian woman who was angry that she could not obtain French citizenship threw a ceramic cup at her, breaking the cup but not damaging the glass or the paint.