The Mona Lisa was smeared with cake at the Louvre on Sunday in a stunt that went viral on social media on Sunday. However, because the famed Leonardo da Vinci painting is encased in bullet-proof glass, it emerged from the attempted vandalism unscathed.
In what appeared to be video shot immediately following the incident, a person dressed as a woman who was seated in a wheelchair is escorted out of the museum by security guards. The suspect, who has since been identified as a 36-year-old man, was reportedly arrested and placed under psychiatric care.
“There are people who are destroying the Earth,” the man says in the video, speaking in French. “All artists, think about the Earth. That’s why I did this. Think of the planet.”
A spokesperson for the Louvre said that the museum had filed a complaint with investigators regarding the man who threw the cake.
“The museum salutes the professionalism of its agents who reacted immediately during this incident,” the museum said in a statement.
The Mona Lisa is one of the Louvre’s—and the world’s—most widely-seen artworks. Before the pandemic, it attracted as many as 30,000 people per day, according to officials at the Paris museum.
There have been attempts periodically to vandalize the Leonardo painting, sometimes in protest of various issues. In 1974, when the painting traveled temporarily to the National Art Museum in Tokyo, a woman spray-painted the Mona Lisa in an attempt to highlight the institution’s policies for disabled visitors. In 2009, a Russian woman threw a teacup at the painting. The Mona Lisa was not damaged on either occasion.
There have also been attempts to steal the Mona Lisa, most notably in 1911, when an Italian nationalist successfully removed it from the Louvre, only to be apprehended trying to sell it to a Florentine dealer.