Today the Mona Lisa is considered the most famous painting in the world, but until the 20th century it was simply one among many highly regarded artworks. Once part of King Francis I of France's collection, the Mona Lisa was among the first artworks to be exhibited in Louvre, which became a national museum after the French Revolution.
From the 19th century Leonardo began to be revered as a genius and the painting's popularity grew from the mid-19th century when French intelligentsia developed a theme that it was mysterious and a representation of the femme fatale.The Baedeker guide in 1878 called it "the most celebrated work of Leonardo in the Louvre",but the painting was known more by the intelligentsia than the general public.
US President John F. Kennedy, Madeleine Malraux, André Malraux, Jacqueline Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson at the unveiling of the Mona Lisa at the National Gallery of Art during its visit to Washington D.C., 8 January 1963
The 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa and its subsequent return was reported worldwide, leading to a massive increase in public recognition of the painting. During the 20th century it was an object for mass reproduction, merchandising, lampooning and speculation, and was claimed to have been reproduced in "300 paintings and 2,000 advertisements". It has been said that the Mona Lisa was regarded as "just another Leonardo until early last century, when the scandal of the painting's theft from the Louvre and subsequent return kept a spotlight on it over several years.
On permanent display at The Louvre museum in Paris, the Mona Lisa was assessed at US $100 million on December 14, 1962. Taking inflation into account, the 1962 value would be around US$620 million in 2016.