Rare chance to see the Mona Lisa up close – an honour normally reserved for world leaders – is put for auction by the Louvre
- The Paris museum is auctioning a viewing of the iconic Leonardo da Vinci work
- The experience is just one lot up for grabs at a Christie’s auction this month
- The Louvre hopes the auction will help cover some of the £81m in revenue lost this year during the coronavirus pandemic
- In 2019, the museum welcomed almost 10million visitors but was closed for five months due to national lockdowns in France to combat the spread of Covid-19
The Louvre is offering a rare chance to see the Mona Lisa up close in a bid to boost its finances which have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Special access to the iconic painting will be sold to the highest bidder at an auction which runs until December 15.
The winner will be permitted to get close to Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece during an annual examination of the painting – an honour usually reserved for visiting heads of state.
The portrait is threatened by a crack and each year is removed from its glass case for a brief checkup.
The Louvre is offering a rare chance to see the Mona Lisa up close in a bid to boost its finances which have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: Visitors take photos of the painting in 2017 [File photo]
Visitors are usually kept three metres (15ft) back from the painting, with some only catching a glimpse of it over the heads of the assembled crowd
A selfie with the iconic Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece is a must for many travellers to France. Pictured: Two visitors wearing face masks take a selfie in front of the Mona Lisa during a summer 2020 visit
Painted between 1503 and 1506, the Mona Lisa – also known as La Gioconda – is perhaps the most recognisable piece of art in the world and has captivated visitors and experts alike with the enigmatic expression of its sitter.
Visitors are usually kept three metres (15ft) back from the painting, with some only catching a glimpse of it over the heads of the assembled crowd.
The opportunity to take a closer look is just one of almost two dozen lots being auctioned by the museum in an attempt to plug the 90m euro (£81m) hole in revenue caused by measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The painting is protected by a glass case and is only removed from it for a brief annual check up
The queue to view the Mona Lisa is empty in this photo from December 4, when the museum remained closed due to a national lockdown in France to combat the spread of coronavirus
Other items include a 1962 oil canvas by the artist Pierre Soulages and a bespoke watch made by Vacheron Constantin.
A walk along the rooftop of the 800-year-old Louvre palace, which houses the museum, accompanied by street artist JR is also up for grabs.
Auction house Christie’s hopes the lots could raise more than one million euros (£900,000).
The Mona Lisa experience alone could bring in between 10,000 and 30,000 euros (£9,000-£27,000), Christie’s hopes.
Almost 10million people visited the Louvre in 2019 but it has been closed this year for more than five months over the course of two national lockdowns in France.
The Louvre – one of the most visited museums in the world – is suffering amid the coronavirus pandemic after five months of closures and a 75% drop in visitors during the normally-bustling summer period when the museum was open [File photo]
Painted between 1503 and 1506, the Mona Lisa – also known as La Gioconda – is perhaps the most recognisable piece of art in the world and has captivated visitors and experts alike with the enigmatic expression of its sitter
When it opened this summer between lockdowns, visitor numbers were reportedly down by as much as 75% during what would normally be peak months with heavy tourist traffic.
‘The Louvre is suffering like all big museums around the world,’ Yann Le Touher, who handles relations with the Louvre’s patrons, said.
He stated that the museum would lose up to 90million euros (£81,689,206) this year and that while the museum is home to priceless works of art, the institution itself is not a particularly wealthy one, Sky News reported.
France frequently tops lists of countries that receive the most tourists each year. Its economy has been hard hit by coronavirus travel restrictions, including in Paris – the country’s most-visited city.
Daily coronavirus case numbers in France are reducing following a strict-month long lockdown but remain high.
The country has recorded more than 2.3million infections and at least 55,521 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began earlier this year.