It has been said that life imitates art, but there's more than a few times that history's shown real life kicks art's ass. Danny Ocean might have had some big plans in his movies, but he can't hold a candle to some of history's more daring real-life thieves.
In 1911, Vincenzo Peruggia had only worked at the esteemed Louvre Museum for one month when the young Italian first encountered the Mona Lisa. Feeling that the famed painting belonged back in its native Italy, Vincenzo spent the next three weeks researching. He studied the museum's entrances, exits, the locks and he even profiled the security guards and found that their "lazy work habits" were perfectly suited to his purposes. After a careful period of casing the joint and its inhabitants, on August 21, 1911, he pulled off what was referred to at the time as the crime of the century.
He knew that the museum would be closed Monday morning for repairs, and after hiding inside the museum the whole night, Vincenzo donned a smock and swept the Mona Lisa off her feet with one furl of his fabric. Seeing at least 10 people working nearby and being illegally in the possession of the most famous piece of art known to the planet might weaken the resolve of lesser men, but Vincenzo kept his cool.
He moved down a nearby stairway, probably humming the Mission: Impossible theme to himself, and freed Mona from her frame. When the downstairs exit was locked, Vincenzo thinking either on his feet or like a caveman ripped the doorknob off the door and convinced a nearby plumber that it was stolen. A reminder: The dude with the Mona Lisa on his person was making a fuss to a plumber about a stolen doorknob. The plumber let him out and bam: The crime was complete.
Apparently basic skepticism hadn't been invented yet.
Vincenzo expected a hero's welcome back in Italy and a hefty reward for the painting, but Florence's Uffizi Gallery just fluffed his balls long enough to authenticate the painting and put the poor dumb sap under arrest. Vincenzo was sentenced to jail, but served minimal time as the patriotism of his act was considered a "mitigating factor." Remember that the next time you appear in traffic court. You weren't speeding. You were speeding for America.
Those pedestrians you hit were probably terrorists or something.