The dawning of the 20th century marked a time of radical change. Rippling rivers of discontent with the past surged into a tidal pool of technological optimism for the future. The culmination would come in the year 1911--after that year the ideologies of class would never be the same. Marconi's invention of the telegraph at the birth of the century had bridged the gap in global communications.
By the year 1911, Marie Curie had twice received Nobel recognition for her research in radioactivity; President William McKinley had been assassinated, and Captain Robert Falcon Scott was preparing to set out upon the frozen plateau of Antarctica in a doomed, quixotic attempt to reach the South Pole.
The world would be awed by the construction of the first unsinkable ship, and then doubly so by its sinking on its maiden voyage. Investigations would reveal that immigrants and third class passengers had been locked below decks, intentionally murdered, as Titanic sank. The world would unite in anger with an international castigation of this perverse devaluation of human life over social status.
In France the bohemian revolution had reached a fevered peak as gangs of artists, poets, and writers filled the taverns of Paris and skulked away in bistros beneath the giant windmill that marked the stone cliff of Montmartre. Pablo Picasso had taken up residence in Renoir's former Montmartre home at 13 Rue Ravignan where he and his gang, la bande de Picasso, using the fame and influence of writer, poet, and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire, excoriated the artists of the Renaissance and the museums which they considered to be the graveyards of dead art.
One of several "gangs" who unleashed their wrath upon an already disjointed art world by stealing the works of the masters right out from under the noses of museum officials, The Picasso Gang would find themselves the central focus in what would become the art crime of the century--The theft of the Mona Lisa from France's most guarded museum, the Louvre.
On August 21, 1911, visitors bustling into Salon Carre, where La Gioconda looked out upon the world with her vague smile, would alert the guard to her theft. The police would close down the city and the harbors; no ships could depart France without a thorough search, but it was too late, Mona Lisa had already been gone for two days when her kidnapping was discovered. All that was found were her frames, handled with care and stashed in a service stairway off the gallery.