In the spring of 1962, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy worked her charm on André Malraux, the French minister for cultural affairs. Despite fierce French resistance he accepted her request to send over Leonardo da Vinci’s stoic portrait Mona Lisa for display in New York and Washington DC. In December 1962, the famed 460 year old masterpiece set sail for New York on the S.S. France sealed in a temperature-controlled, bulletproof box accompanied by a 24 hour armed guards detail.
Eleven weeks and one million six-hundred-thousand visitors latter Mona Lisa boarded the S.S. United States for the return voyage to France. Guarded day and night, she traveled in a three room first class suite listed under the “L” section of the passenger list as Mona Lisa. On March 12, the painting was safely back in the Louvre, where it has remained ever since.
TRANSCRIPTION OF OFFICIAL RECEIPT.
“Received in cabins M72, M74, and M75, on board the S.S. United States, at Pier 86, North River, West 46th Street, New York City, the painting Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, its frame, and containers for both, all in the same condition as delivered to the National Gallery of Art on December 19,1962. All responsibility of all officials of the Government of the United States, the national Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the painting, frame, and containers is hereby terminated.
Dated and signed March 7 1963