Someone Paid $98,000 For a Private Viewing of the Mona Lisa

The auction was part of a larger fundraising initiative

Le Louvre Museum
The painting of "Mona Lisa" also known as (La Joconde) by Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci is seen without tourists during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Chesnot/Getty Images

Iconic works of art don’t just stay in perfect condition; there’s a routine and a science involved with keeping them looking their best. Every year, the Louvre inspects the Mona Lisa to determine how time and the environment have affected the painting. Normally, this inspection is something that only museum staff would be present for — but, as with so many things, the events of this year have altered the way things are done, at least temporarily.

The Louvre recently auctioned off a rare opportunity: the ability to be present in the room when the Mona Lisa is inspected. The winner of the auction paid $98,000 for this firsthand look at a world-famous work of art. (That ended up being a lot more than Christie’s had estimated.) As part of the package, they and a guest will be accompanied by the museum’s president and director, Jean-Luc Martinez; they’ll also receive a tour of the Louvre’s Grand Galerie.

The auction itself is one of several designed to help the museum raise revenue at a time when attendance is far lower than usual. At Travel + Leisure, Meena Thiruvengadam delved into some of the others, including a tour of the museum by touchlight and a private concert. All in all, 24 items were auctioned off, raising $2.9 million.

Among the projects benefiting from the auction? The Studio, which the museum described as an educational and workshop center “for families, school groups, disabled or disadvantaged visitors and the people accompanying them.” It’s slated to open next year — something else to look forward to when life returns to relative normalcy.

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