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Man in wig throws cake at Mona Lisa in climate protest stunt

Videos posted on social media appear to show a young man in a wig and lipstick who had arrived in a wheelchair.
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/ Source: The Associated Press

An activist targeted Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa on Monday, throwing cake at the portrait inside the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Sergio Migliaccio, a witness to the incident, said the man was in a wheelchair wearing a long wig amid the crowd of people there to see the famed painting.

“All of a sudden the guy jumped from the wheelchair and, with a red rose between his lips, he climbed the fences and attacked the Mona Lisa with a cake,” Migliaccio said.

The painting hangs behind a layer of glass, leaving it unharmed by the cake.

Security guards were filmed escorting the wig-wearing activist away as he called out to the surprised visitors in the gallery: “Think of the Earth. There are people who are destroying the Earth. Think about it. Artists tell you: think of the Earth. That’s why I did this.”

Guards were then filmed cleaning the smeared cream from the glass. Officials at the Louvre weren’t immediately available for comment.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said Monday that the man, 36, was detained following Sunday’s incident and sent to a police psychiatric unit, and that it had opened an investigation into the damage of cultural artifacts.

The 16th-century Renaissance masterpiece has been targeted before.

The painting was stolen in 1911 by a museum employee, an event which increased its international fame.

It was also damaged in an acid attack perpetrated by a vandal in the 1950s, and has since been kept behind glass.

In 2009, a Russian woman who was angry at not being able to get French citizenship threw a ceramic cup at it, smashing the cup but not harming the glass or the painting.