The world’s most famous smile was briefly obscured on Sunday when a man smeared cream cake on the Mona Lisa, in what appears to have been a climate protest.
Leonardo da Vinci’s 16th-century masterpiece was untouched, however, as it is protected behind bulletproof glass in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Social networks quickly lit up with videos posted by tourists who were then in the gallery.
Visitors reported that a man had disguised himself as an elderly lady in a wheelchair, presumably to gain access to the space just in front of the board reserved for the disabled. Then he got up and smeared the cream cake on the display case which protects the Renaissance painting.
As security guards lunged at him, the man, who was wearing a wig and makeup, threw red roses at their feet.
As they led him away, the man said to the crowd, in French: “Think of the Earth. There are people destroying the Earth. Think of it…all artists, think of the Earth — that’s why I did this. Think about the planet.”
The Louvre released a statement Monday saying the painting had not suffered any damage. The museum said the man hid the cake in his personal belongings.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Monday the 36-year-old had been taken into police custody following Sunday’s incident and sent to a police psychiatric unit for evaluation. An investigation has been opened on accusations of damage to cultural objects.