A protester who faked a disability to get close to the Mona Lisa in a wheelchair stood up and smeared a pastry on its glass case on Sunday, according to the Louvre museum in Paris.
The painting, one of the world’s most recognizable pieces of art, was not damaged, museum officials said.
Videos on social media showed that the man, speaking in French, yelled that there were “people who were destroying the planet” and “that’s why I did it.”
The Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century and perhaps the crown jewel of the Louvre’s collection, is typically swarmed by camera-wielding tourists. The painting is held behind a thick glass case, an effective shield against pastries.
A witness who posted a video of the aftermath on Twitter said the man had “dressed as an old lady” and jumped out of a wheelchair before attempting to smash the glass.
The witness said the unidentified man smeared the pastry, which the witness identified as cake, before throwing roses around the room. He was then tackled by security guards, the witness said.
The Louvre said in a statement that officials with the museum had followed its usual procedures for people with reduced mobility, “allowing them to admire this major work of the Louvre.”
Once he was near the painting, the man threw the pastry that he had hidden, the museum said.
Security guards seized the man and escorted him out before handing him over to the police, the museum said. The museum filed a complaint, officials said.
There have been several attempts to vandalize the painting, some more successful than others. In 1956, a man threw a stone at the painting, shattering a glass shield and scratching Mona Lisa’s left elbow, causing a chip of paint to fall off.
The man initially said he had no real reason to commit the act. “I had a stone in my pocket and suddenly the idea to throw it came to my mind,” the police quoted him as saying.
He later said he was jobless, had no money and simply wanted to be jailed through the cold weather.
The painting had been moved behind glass, at the time the only piece in the Louvre to receive such protection, because years earlier a man who said he was “in love with the painting” had tried to steal it after cutting it with a razor blade.
In 2009, a woman threw a teacup at the glass. The teacup shattered and order was quickly restored.