The Mona Lisa or La Gioconda is a half-length portrait of a woman by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, which has been acclaimed as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world”. The painting is thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini who was the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504 in Florence, Italy but may have continued working on it as late as 1517. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic, on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris since 1797. On 21 August 1911, the painting was stolen from the Louvre by an Italian Patriot named Vincenzo Peruggia.
“The expression on the Mona lisa has been frequently described as enigmatic, the monumentality of the composition, the subtle modeling of forms, and the atmospheric illusionism.” The painting was worth $100 million in 1962 but was currently around US$782 million in 2015 making it, in practice, by far the most valued painting in the world.