Mona Lisa Stolen,100 Years Ago, August 21, 1911

Comedy Writer Joe Medeiros (17 Years as the Head Writer for "Tonight Show with Jay Leno") is a leading expert on the theft and is available for interviews

New York, New York, UNITED STATES

NEW YORK, Aug. 3, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On the eve of the 100th Anniversary of the theft of the Mona Lisa, Joe Medeiros has completed his new documentary The Missing Piece: The Truth about the Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa, ( the culmination of Medeiros' 35-year quest to find the truth about the theft and the man who stole her. After a successful career in comedy writing (21 years writing for Jay Leno, 17 years as headwriter for "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno), Medeiros returns to answer the questions that have always haunted him: Who really stole the Mona Lisa, why, and how?

To date, much of the information presented in books, films and television programs about Vincenzo Peruggia and his theft of the Mona Lisa is wrong – from the spelling of Peruggia's surname to his true motivation for stealing La Gioconda. Even Italian television productions about Peruggia and his theft have been so inaccurate in their portrayal of the man and his life's story that they have caused great embarrassment for the Peruggia family whom Medeiros has featured in his film. After years of research, and debunking the myths along the way, Medeiros has found the exact details and complete information that tell the true story.

Vincent Delieuvin, Curator of Italian Paintings of the 16thcentury at the Musée du Louvre, summarized the need for The Missing Piece best, "The theft of the Mona Lisa is an essential part of her history and the correct and true story of her absence has never been told, but this extraordinary and little known story needs to be told to indemnify her legacy. Peruggia created this unimaginable part of her history; therefore his story needs to be told too."

A trivia junkie by nature, Medeiros became obsessed with the little known piece of history that the Mona Lisa had been stolen from its home in the Louvre on August 21, 1911. In 2008, his nagging curiosity about why Peruggia really stole the painting finally was satisfied when he decided to make a documentary film about the theft and the man who stole her.

The Missing Piece tells the story behind the theft. Acting alone, an Italian immigrant housepainter named Vincenzo Peruggia swiftly removed the painting from the Louvre and held her in his room in Paris for over two years. Peruggia was never apprehended until he returned the Mona Lisa to Florence through an Italian art dealer, claiming he stole the painting to return her to her rightful owners – the Italian people.

Medeiros search takes him to Vincenzo Peruggia's 84 year-old daughter, Celestina, whom he hopes will tell him the secret of her father's reason for the crime. What he encounters instead is a daughter who knows little about her father's life. When the team finally arrives in Dumenza, Italy and is accepted into the home of the endearing Celestina they are presented with a new challenge: while Celestina believes her father stole the Mona Lisa for patriotic reasons. She knows little else. Her father, Vincenzo, died when she was only a toddler. The family's memory of him has been shrouded in shame because of the theft, and they rarely mention him. She tells Joe that before she dies, she wants to know the truth about her father's motive for stealing the painting.

The search leads Joe and his research team through thousands of documents in the French and Italian national archives. They interview Louvre and Uffizi officials and gain unprecedented access to the museums and to leading art and art crimes experts all over the world. Wading through this mountain of information, Joe can only assemble a profile of Peruggia as a man whom a world-renowned court psychiatrist called "mentally deficient", one who was treated shabbily and called "macaroni" by his Parisian co-workers, and who came to believe that all Italian art in the Louvre was stolen by Napoleon. Joe takes Peruggia's grandson Silvio to Paris to retrace his grandfather's life in the City of Lights, but they are unable to discover Peruggia's true motives there. Joe, along with Celestina's daughter Graziella, leaves for Florence in search of the truth. There, where Peruggia brought the painting in December 1913, in the state archives they find Peruggia's letters to his family revealing his true intentions. It is now up to Joe to return to Dumenza and deliver ailing Celestina The Missing Piece, the truth about her father and his unthinkable theft of the Mona Lisa.

If you are interested in learning more about the theft and speaking with Joe Medieros, please contact Falco Ink. at (212) 445-7100/

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