This episode was narrated by Jay Thomas. Alcatraz. Once America's most notorious prison now houses four makeshift, dummy heads. Painstakingly crafted and topped with real human hair; how did these masks help destroy the reputation of America's most formidable prison? The Enigma Machine is among the many guns, planes and chilling machines of war at the National Museum of the Navy. How did this machine help to win World War Two? And is Walter's Museum of Art in Baltimore, Maryland the actual home of the Mona Lisa?
This episode was narrated by Jay Thomas.
Alcatraz. Once America's most notorious prison now houses four makeshift, dummy heads. Painstakingly crafted and topped with real human hair; how did these masks help destroy the reputation of America's most formidable prison? The Enigma Machine is among the many guns, planes and chilling machines of war at the National Museum of the Navy. How did this machine help to win World War Two? And is Walter's Museum of Art in Baltimore, Maryland the actual home of the Mona Lisa?
For even more Mysteries at the Museum, head to discovery+. Go to discoveryplus.com/mystery to start your 7-day free trial today. Terms apply.
Find episode transcripts here: https://mysteries-at-the-museum.simplecast.com/episodes/prison-ploy-enigma-machine-mona-lisa
SPEAKER 1: Four artificial human heads that hold the key to the greatest prison break of all time.
SPEAKER 2: There are people that root for these guys thinking maybe they did make it.
SPEAKER 1: A grotesque monster whose origins are shrouded in secrecy.
SPEAKER 3: When I first saw it, I have to admit I opened the door and walked out for a minute.
SPEAKER 1: And a mysterious metal canister that sealed the fate of three of America's bravest heroes.
SPEAKER 4: Houston, we've had a problem.
SPEAKER 1: Across the United States, in the nation's most revered institutions, our celebrated history is on display. Wondrous
treasures from the past, bizarre relics. But behind every amazing artifact is another tale to be told, and a secret
waiting to be revealed. These are the Mysteries at the Museum.
San Francisco, California. The world famous city by the bay is also home to the most inhospitable museum on the
planet, Alcatraz. Once America's most notorious prison, this looming fortress sits on an island surrounded by icy,
purportedly shark-infested waters. Today, the former jailhouse is a museum documenting the history of this
But of all the objects in the Alcatraz collections, one set of artifacts stands out from the rest-- four makeshift
dummy heads, painstakingly crafted, and topped with real human hair. They are strangely lifelike. And they are
the centerpiece in a 50-year-old mystery. Did these masks help destroy the reputation of America's most
formidable prison. And what became of the men who made them?
Spring 1961, Alcatraz has been America's most secure prison for almost 30 years. Escape is believed to be
impossible. But one man thinks he's found a way. Allen Clayton West is serving time on The Rock for stealing
cars. Four years into his stretch, he's landed a job as a prison janitor.
SPEAKER 5: Working on Alcatraz was a privilege. Mr. West's job was to do maintenance inside the cell house.
SPEAKER 1: One day while making his rounds, West makes a discovery that will change the history of Alcatraz forever.
SPEAKER 5: Allen West working up above the cell block, looking up at the air vent, realizes may be a way out.
SPEAKER 1: West is sure the air shaft leads directly to the prison's roof. He shares his find with three hardened criminals, an
armed robber named Frank Morris, and two notorious thieves, John and Clarence Anglin. Together they hatched a
plan to do the unthinkable, escape. But before they can reach the air shaft, they must find a way out of their 9 by
5 foot cells. Built from solid cement blocks, the cell walls are impenetrable except for one tiny air vent near the
SPEAKER 5: This is the actual vent that they escaped from. And then used spoon handles to chip through the concrete to
widen this hole large enough for a man to climb through.
SPEAKER 1: But getting out of the cell is just the beginning. Next, they must find a way to get off the island. Using a stockpile
of prison issue raincoats, they designed a raft.
SPEAKER 5: They needed a flotation device to get them to San Francisco. 15 to 20 raincoats like this coat that you see here
were transported into the cell house. They cut these coats up, sew them together, glued the seams, and pumped
their homemade raft up.
SPEAKER 1: The plotters hatched a plan to sneak out of their cells at night and construct the raft in a disused part of the
prison. But there's a problem. There's no way they can leave their cells without their absence being noticed.
SPEAKER 5: There were 12 head counts throughout the day. The correctional officers were counting the convicts even as they
SPEAKER 1: The solution they come up with remains one of the most masterful acts of deception in history.
SPEAKER 5: It was very ingenious, and they do it right underneath the correctional officers' noses.
SPEAKER 1: In stolen moments between inspections, using scraps of newspaper, soap, and cement, the four plotters start to
build fake heads, copying their own features in painstaking detail.
SPEAKER 5: They painted faces onto these heads, eyelashes put on their faces. Clarence Anglin worked in the barber shop
and had access to human hair laying on the floor, and it was perfect.
SPEAKER 1: At night, when they creeped out of their cells to build the raft, they leave the dummy heads in their beds to
mislead the guards.
SPEAKER 5: And they pulled it off. It fooled the guards.
SPEAKER 1: For months, the dummy heads keep the prison guards off the inmates' scent, allowing the plotters to work on
their plan. And on the night of June 11, 1962, the men make their break. They set out their dummy heads one
last time. In the crawl space behind their cells, Frank Morris meets the Anglin brothers. But the plan's mastermind
Allen West is a no show.
SPEAKER 5: And there is some speculation that Allen West realized that they were not going to make the paddle across the
San Francisco Bay. So he decided to stay behind. But the others made their break. This is the actual vent that
they came through into the corridor. And then climbed up the plumbing to the rooftop of the cell house.
SPEAKER 1: Can you imagine their adrenaline pumping when they got up on the roof here. They've gotten out of the cell
house, freedom in sight. So at this point, these three convicts climbed over the side of the roof, slide down a set
of pipes, 40 feet down to the ground, hop a few fences, and entered the water. They take off into the night, never
to be seen again.
At 7:15 the next morning, an Alcatraz guard tries to wake what he thinks is a sleeping prisoner, only to make a
SPEAKER 5: He jumped back about five feet, and scared the heck out of him. He knew he had a problem.
SPEAKER 1: Three convicts have done the impossible, escaped. Soon, a massive manhunt is underway. Allen West is
interrogated and reveals the details of the plot. But there is one question he can never answer. Did the men
SPEAKER 5: These men were in the San Francisco Bay, very cold temperature. The hypothermia shuts your body down.
SPEAKER 1: Days later, a paddle and three homemade life jackets are found floating in the 50-degree water of San Francisco
Bay. The authorities conclude that the men must have drowned. But to this day, no one knows for sure.
SPEAKER 5: They survived. There's always a chance. I guess, and there are people that root for these guys thinking maybe
they did make it. And maybe they didn't.
SPEAKER 1: Alive or not, their daring exploit ruined Alcatraz's reputation as the toughest prison on the planet. One year later,
the prison is closed for good. But today on Alcatraz Island, the faces of these four men remain, forever frozen in
From breaking out to breaking code, on the other side of the country, at the US Navy Museum in Washington, DC,
there's an enigmatic object whose workings would baffle the finest minds of its age. How did unlocking the
secrets of this machine sparked the creation of a computer that helped win World War II?
Washington, DC, the nation's capital is home to a museum dedicated to America's wartime heroes. This is the
National Museum of the US Navy. It houses a vast collection of guns, planes, and chilling machines of war. But
hidden in this huge arsenal sits an innocuous object with a most unusual name. It is the Enigma machine.
SPEAKER 6: An Enigma machine resembles a typewriter. It has keys on the top, and you can flip open the lid to see all these
different rotors in the back.
SPEAKER 1: The wheels, buttons, and dials of this archaic device are almost laughable, compared to our sleek modern
laptops and smartphones. But looks can be deceiving. 70 years ago, this machine was a cutting edge, top secret
weapon that Nazi commanders believed would lead them to victory in World War II.
SPEAKER 7: That Enigma was an entirely secure means of communication that would communicate vast amounts of data
between forces over a long distance.
SPEAKER 1: The Enigma machine scrambled important messages letter by letter, turning vital Nazi communications into a
seemingly random stream of text. These encrypted messages would then be sent via radio, to an operator who
would type the encoded letters back into another Enigma machine. If the second Enigma machine was calibrated
correctly, the original message would reappear. Without knowledge of an Enigma machine settings, decoding an
encrypted message was a nearly impossible task. And the Nazis would use this high tech tool to their deadly
Summer 1940, war has been raging in Europe for nearly a year. Hitler's Nazi armies occupy vast stretches of
Western Europe. And only one country is left standing in the face of this Nazi onslaught, Great Britain. But their
resistance is crumbling. For months, Nazi submarines or U-boats have been targeting US supply ships bringing in
food and provisions to the isolated island. This strategic move is designed to starve Great Britain into surrender.
SPEAKER 6: The United States was sending supplies across the Atlantic. And the problem with doing that was that the
German U-boats were a constant threat to these different convoys. They would pop up out of nowhere and sink
ships. It was hard for the Allies to know where and when these U-boats would pop up.
SPEAKER 1: That year, German U-boats sank over 2 million tons of Allied supplies, bringing Britain ever closer to starvation.
The secret of the Nazi success, the Enigma machine. This high tech encryption device allows the German U-boats
to coordinate complex attacks against the Americans in complete secrecy. Even if the Allies intercept a U-boat
command, they cannot decipher it.
SPEAKER 7: For some Intelligence Agency trying to break into an Enigma message, they would have had greater likelihood to
be struck by lightning or to win a jackpot in a lottery than to work their way into understanding what the message
SPEAKER 1: The US supply ships are sitting ducks, and Germany's stranglehold on Great Britain is tightening. The fate of the
free world rests on solving the Enigma puzzle. And one man is already fast at work, a brilliant mathematician,
who would go on to become one of the architects of artificial intelligence. His name is Alan Turing.
SPEAKER 6: Alan Turing was critically important to decoding some of the Enigma codes. He computated how one could go
through all these different types of codes in the least amount of time possible.
SPEAKER 1: At a top secret facility outside London, using captured Enigma technology, Turing and his team are successfully
breaking Enigma codes. But they faced a problem. They can't do it fast enough. By the time a message has been
decoded, it is often obsolete. The team needs a faster way to decipher Enigma messages. So Turing develops a
brilliant solution-- one of the world's first computers.
SPEAKER 7: Alan Turing works with a team that produces a machine that sole function is to work out what the settings were
on a particular day.
SPEAKER 1: Aided by Turing's machine, the Enigma codes are being deciphered fast enough to act upon. The Allies can now
use intercepted intelligence to reroute supply ships to Britain and avoid German attacks. But the Allies don't stop
there. US Navy hunter-killer patrols begin using intercepted Enigma intelligence to locate and destroy German U-
boats in the Atlantic.
SPEAKER 7: Suddenly, a surface ship would show up and start dropping depth charges on a U-boat.
SPEAKER 1: The US Navy successfully turns the tables on the Germans in the Battle of the Atlantic. By 1945, the Germans are
defeated, and the war is over. The Allies' success is due in large part to the brilliant minds of the men and women
who cracked the Enigma codes, and put an end to the German U-boat threat, which is why today the Enigma
machine maintains a place of honor among the venerated monuments at the National Museum of the US Navy.
300 miles North at the Mead Art museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, a very different kind of enigma lies locked
away. Is it a freakish abomination of nature or an elaborate hoax?
The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College in Massachusetts holds an extensive collection of fine arts and world
artifacts. But locked out of public view in the basement vault lurks a grotesque creature. Its origins and identity
are shrouded in mystery. Only a handful of people have ever gazed upon it. One of the few that has had the
dubious privilege is the Mead's curator, Elizabeth Barker.
SPEAKER 3: When I first took the job at Amherst College, I was eager to see everything we had in the art collection. The room
I looked in last was a little bit spooky. The room has a real aroma when you walk in. You can smell that many of
the things have natural components. And if you turn to the side, and look suddenly on one of the shelves, there's
an absolutely terrifying figure there. When I first saw it, I have to admit I opened the door and walked out for a
minute, and asked what it was.
Probably the first thing that captures your attention are the nasty little claws. And then you notice the tiny, sharp
teeth, and the extremely disturbing desiccated skin.
SPEAKER 1: But its most unusual feature is its scaled aquatic body. Little is known about this half fish, half humanoid
specimen, except its alluring name, the Fiji Mermaid.
SPEAKER 3: This particular specimen predates the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. We know that the college owned it
by 1890. And we assumed that it was acquired as a specimen for teaching natural history.
SPEAKER 1: Is it conceivable that this object is the remains of a rare aquatic species native to the South Pacific, or the basis
for the mermaids of myth and legend? The possibilities are enthralling, which is why Barker is on a mission to
find out what the mermaid is, and where it came from. The first step in her investigation is to take a look inside
the curious creature.
SPEAKER 3: In this X-ray, you can see part of the skull. We're guessing that this was probably some sort of monkey.
SPEAKER 1: But the creature's skull has clearly been stitched onto an artificial . Body
SPEAKER 3: There's one very long wooden stake that runs the length of the figure from the neck to the end of the tail. And all
through the piece, these bright lines indicate metal supports.
SPEAKER 1: The X-rays prove it, rather than mermaid, the artifact is man-made. So where did it come from and how did it get
the provocative and misleading name, Fiji Mermaid?
1842, New York City, PT Barnum, founder of the famous circus is the most infamous showman in the country. A
master of self-promotion, he is known for his collections of over-the-top, weird, and wonderful curios from around
the world. And he has made a small fortune selling visitors the chance to see these improbable oddities firsthand.
When he stumbles upon a bizarre artifact from Asia with the head of a monkey and the tail of a fish, he comes up
with a plan to promote it as a showstopper, a real life Fiji Mermaid.
SPEAKER 3: Barnum developed a brilliant strategy. Rather than simply presented himself, Barnum arranged to introduce this
to the American public very subtly.
SPEAKER 1: He gives the artifact to a friend, and has imposed as a visiting British scientist claiming to have found a real
mermaid. When the press catches wind of the story, they run wild. Barnum puts the mermaid on display, sits
back, and watches the profits pile up.
SPEAKER 3: It was enormously popular. People couldn't wait to see it. In the first four weeks of its display, it earned the
equivalent of $90,000 in modern money.
SPEAKER 1: But in 1865, the show comes to an abrupt end when Barnum's collections burned to the ground. But what
became of the Fiji Mermaid? Many wonder if it too met the same fiery fate.
SPEAKER 3: We don't know exactly what happened to the original Fiji Mermaid.
SPEAKER 1: What Elizabeth Barker does know is that the mermaid in the collection of the Mead Museum of Art in Amherst
bears the same name as Barnum's headlining attraction. How it came to be in the museum is still a mystery.
SPEAKER 3: We really don't know how it came here. But since we're not near a body of water, we can assume she didn't
SPEAKER 1: The tale of the Fiji mermaid and how it captivated the imagination of a country is a testament to the audacity and
showmanship of one of America's greatest entertainers.
More than 100 years later, the nation would be gripped by a very different spectacle-- a life or death crisis that
played out in the darkest reaches of outer space. At the center of the story is this small metal box. What role did
this unassuming gadget play in one of the most dramatic space rescues of all time?
SPEAKER 4: Houston, we've had a problem.
SPEAKER 1: The Space Center in Houston, Texas is dedicated to the history of the legendary NASA space program. It has
preserved a one of a kind collection of the US spacecraft that pioneered our explorations into outer space. But
the most noteworthy piece in this collection isn't a rocket or a spacesuit. And its importance is not immediately
apparent to the untrained eye.
SPEAKER 8: At first glance, it's kind of just an ugly metal box.
SPEAKER 1: This small, gray canister played a pivotal role in the story of a near tragic space mission-- a tale that has been
told and retold countless times. But relatively few have ever laid eyes on this life-saving piece of interstellar
technology. What did this unremarkable spacecraft part do to earn its place among the celebrated monuments of
the space age? The answer lies in an ill-fated voyage that took place 40 years ago.
April 11, 1970, year after the iconic moon landing, NASA launches its third mission to the moon. This bold, new
expedition will send a manned lunar lander from an orbiting shuttle onto the moon's surface to explore its
mountainous terrain. The crew consists of veteran astronaut, Jim Lovell, and two rookies, Jack Swigert, and Fred
Hayes. Little do they know that their journey will become a legend for all the wrong reasons. The mission is
SPEAKER 4: [INAUDIBLE]
SPEAKER 9: Looks good, flat.
SPEAKER 4: OK, sir.
SPEAKER 9: It looks fine.
SPEAKER 1: 55 hours into the flight, everything is going according to plan. But as the spacecraft approaches the moon,
something goes horribly wrong.
SPEAKER 8: There's a loud thump. They said it sounded like a shotgun going off.
SPEAKER 4: OK, we've got a problem here.
SPEAKER 9: Just say again, please.
SPEAKER 4: Houston, we've had a problem.
SPEAKER 1: The incident compels Commander Jim Lovell to utter those now unforgettable words. Houston, we've had a
problem, and there was no mistaking their meaning. Something catastrophic has just happened. A large oxygen
tank in the spacecraft's main compartment has exploded. Back on Earth, the normally calm, collected engineers
of Mission Control are stunned.
SPEAKER 8: The explosion that occurred on Apollo 13 up to that point was the worst thing that had ever happened on a space
SPEAKER 1: The blast has crippled the spacecraft. The astronauts are rapidly losing power. And what's worse, their oxygen
supply is leaking into space.
SPEAKER 4: And it looks to be looking out the hatch, so we are venting something. We are venting something out into space.
SPEAKER 9: Roger, we copy your venting.
SPEAKER 1: The situation is dire. If the astronauts remain in the ship, they face certain death.
SPEAKER 8: They needed somewhere else to go somewhere else that had a life support system-- something that was
SPEAKER 1: Their only hope of making it back to Earth alive is to retreat into the Lunar Lander, the small vehicle designed to
shuttle them to the surface of the moon.
SPEAKER 8: They looked at the Lunar Lander as a lifeboat. That was the only way that they were going to survive the next
several days that it took to get back to the Earth.
SPEAKER 1: But crammed into the small capsule, it quickly dawns on the men that they face a new and even greater danger.
SPEAKER 8: With every breath of oxygen that they inhaled, they were exhaling a poisonous gas, carbon dioxide, and that was
building up in the spacecraft.
SPEAKER 1: The air filtration system in the Lunar Lander depends on special canisters that remove the carbon dioxide from
the air. The problem is that the vessel is only designed to support two passengers. There aren't enough filtration
canisters in the Lunar Lander to keep all three astronauts alive until they get back to Earth. The only spare
canisters they have are in the main cabin of the crippled spaceship. But they are the wrong shape.
SPEAKER 8: Though canisters from the Command Module were not compatible with the Lunar Lander.
SPEAKER 1: The problem is frustratingly simple. The ship's canisters are square, and the Lunar Lander's filtration system is
cylindrical. The astronauts have less than 48 hours to find a way to make the canisters work, or they will
suffocate. Back on Earth, engineers at Mission Control worked feverishly to come up with a solution to save the
SPEAKER 9: Everybody keep cool, see if we can get some more brainpower and we got one here.
SPEAKER 1: But they are severely limited. Using an identical canister, and the only tools that are available to the astronauts,
a plastic bag, a tube, and a roll of duct tape, NASA engineers attempt to build an airtight seal that will force air
through the square canister. After more than 30 hours of tense trial and error, NASA engineers come up with a
design. They relay their makeshift repair to the astronauts, who urgently begin replicating the fix. With only
hours until they run out of air, the astronauts wait to see if the canister works.
SPEAKER 8: And just in a matter of minutes, those dangerous levels of the carbon dioxide gas immediately started coming
down. The canister is really what kept the astronauts alive. With their air supply restored, the crew of Apollo 13
can turn their attention to the near impossible task of guiding the Lunar Rover back to Earth. On April 17, they
succeed. Apollo 13 enters Earth's atmosphere, and splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.
SPEAKER 9: Odyssey Houston, we show you on the main. That really looks great.
SPEAKER 1: A tragedy is averted, and the nation breathes a sigh of relief. And today, this small metal canister remains safely
preserved at the Space Center in Houston as a constant reminder of the power of human tenacity in the face of
While Apollo 13 rose to spectacular heights and landed safely, at Michigan's Henry Ford Museum, this futuristic
creation, once poised to revolutionize America, crashed before it ever got off the ground. Just outside of Detroit,
the world famous Henry Ford Museum is an awe-inspiring repository of engineering marvels. As you make your
way through nine acres of automotive Americana, tucked away in the Northwest corner is an artifact that looks
nothing like a Mustang or a Model T. In fact, it wasn't designed by Henry Ford at all.
Around metallic structure, this massive object could easily pass for a flying saucer, or even an alien relic. But it's
not ripped from the pages of science fiction, nor is it a flying machine. Fireproof, flood-resistant, and able to
withstand earthquakes, it is one man's vision of the home of the future. It's called the Dymaxion House.
SPEAKER 10: It's shiny. It's circular. It's got a peaked roof. Nothing about the exterior appearance at this house suggests a
house other than windows perhaps.
SPEAKER 1: Conceived in the 1920s as an inexpensive prefab dwelling, the ultramodern house features innovations that were
well ahead of their time. Space-saving rotating shelves, waterless toilets that would shrink wrap waste for
composting, downdraft ventilation that naturally filtered dust and impurities from the interior air.
SPEAKER 10: The Dymaxion House is a precursor of much of the thinking we now have in the arena of environmentalism.
SPEAKER 1: This invention could have changed the way we live as significantly as the motor car or assembly line. So why
didn't it? Why aren't we all living in one of these amazing homes today? The answer lies in the genius of the
Dymaxion House's designer, the eccentric inventor named Buckminster Fuller.
SPEAKER 10: He had interesting ways of looking at things. Any idea was worthy of some kind of investigation. Sometimes it's
architectural. Sometimes it's transportation. Many of Fuller's far-fetched ideas still have an appeal.
SPEAKER 1: 1945, Buckminster Fuller is a self-made inventor and architect, obsessed with finding innovative solutions for
society's needs. He would go on to design the geodesic dome, and pens several books on sustainable living,
popularizing the phrase Spaceship Earth. But up until now he's had very little success bringing his plans to life.
But history is about to hand him a golden opportunity to make his name immortal.
As millions of American soldiers return from the battlefields of World War II, the country faces a massive housing
shortage, and Fuller has a solution, a design he's been developing for 20 years, the Dymaxion House.
SPEAKER 10: It's designed to be readily transportable. It's designed to be lightweight, but it sits on a very, very small
SPEAKER 1: Fuller's house is cheap, easy to assemble, and can be put anywhere. The Dymaxion House is the right invention
at the right time.
SPEAKER 10: We know that there was actually a very, very positive reaction. An awful lot of inquiries came in regarding the
cost, and availability, and preorders.
SPEAKER 1: So why does the Dymaxion House live in a museum, and not on every one of our city streets?
SPEAKER 10: Foolish visionary, that's part of the problem. Visionaries are often very good at getting things started, but not
necessarily and sustain them.
SPEAKER 1: Fuller secures the backing of a group of investors, but he cannot resist tinkering with his design.
SPEAKER 10: There's no getting around the fact he liked problem solving. People hid stuff when they saw him coming into the
plant because they knew the bit has one more adjustment.
SPEAKER 1: 1946, after months of delays and frustration, Fuller and his investors part ways. Production of the new American
home grinds to a halt. And instead, the country builds millions of new square homes for its returning GIs.
Buckminster Fuller's vision of the future, an America of shiny dome Dymaxion Homes is destroyed. All that
remains is one intriguing example of what might have been.
SPEAKER 10: This is the sole surviving Dymaxion House . So this is it, one of the Dymaxion House. You're going to have to
come here and look around this one.
SPEAKER 1: While the Ford Museum in Dearborn may be the only place to see a Dymaxion House, if you want to see theMona
Lisa, you don't have to travel to Paris. You can see this masterpiece right here in the United States at the Walters
Museum of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. Could this possibly be the original?
The Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci's most enduring masterpiece. For centuries, she has enticed art lovers with her
SPEAKER 11: I would say that the Mona Lisa is one of the world's most famous works of art, and it's just the enigmatic
expression I think that really draws people in. It leaves us wondering who this lady is, what is she smiling about if
she is indeed smiling, and it's a mystery.
SPEAKER 1: Most people believe the Mona Lisa hangs in the Louvre in Paris. But for decades, rumors abounded that the real
Mona Lisa actually rests here at the Walters Museum of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. Could this painting be the
original? The mystery of the Walters Art Museum's Mona Lisa begins a century ago when the museum's founder,
Henry Walters, purchased a copy of the Mona Lisa in a London auction.
SPEAKER 12: Henry Walters acquired the painting in 1909 at an auction in London through an agent. And at the time in the
auction catalog, the painting is referred to simply as Leonardo da Vinci portrait of Mona Lisa.
SPEAKER 1: So why do some people believe that the originalMona Lisa now hangs in Baltimore? Could they somehow have
been swapped? The answer lies in one of the most shocking art thefts in history. Paris, August 21, 1911, a man
named Vincenzo Perugia, an ex-employee of the Louvre Museum in Paris does the unthinkable. Under the cover
of night, he steals the Mona Lisa.
SPEAKER 13: He was a man who believed that this piece was an Italian national treasure, and he saw it as his duty to take it
back to Italy.
SPEAKER 1: For two whole years, the famous painting is lost to the world. And it is during these dark days that rumor and
mystery surrounding da Vinci's painting spreads across the world. Some believe an Argentinian con man
masterminded the theft so that he could sell illicit buyers near perfect forgeries. At one point, Pablo Picasso is
questioned in the theft because of his relationship to an alleged suspect.
Finally in 1913, in Florence, Italy, Vincenzo Perugia attempts to sell theMona Lisa, or what he claims to be the
Mona Lisa to Italian officials. Instead, he is promptly arrested. The painting in his possession goes back to the
Louvre. But did the authorities recover the right Mona Lisa? In this tumultuous period of international art dealing,
is it possible that Walter's 1909 copy held in his private collection was somehow switched with the stolen
SPEAKER 12: The theory had been put forward, that possibly a substitution had been made.
SPEAKER 1: 100 years later, using modern science, the curators at the Walters have a definitive way to answer these
SPEAKER 14: What the X-rays do is show the insides, the workings of how the painting were put together.
SPEAKER 1: And these X-rays show something completely unexpected.
SPEAKER 12: One of the most fascinating aspects of this painting is not on the surface, but what's underneath.
SPEAKER 14: The image on the X-ray was really remarkable because it was a complete other painting. We saw a version of
Saint Veronica holding the veil of Christ.
SPEAKER 1: The painting of Saint Veronica is attributed to a French artist named Simon Vouet. Most importantly, curator's
date Vouet's work to the 1630s, more than a century after da Vinci painted the original Mona Lisa.
SPEAKER 14: So the artist reused this painting to repaint a copy of theMona Lisa.
SPEAKER 1: Whatever doubt has swirled around this Mona Lisa has been conclusively put to bed. The painting at the Walters
is not the original.
SPEAKER 14: We would love to own theMona Lisa, but unfortunately we do not. The original version is in the Louvre.
SPEAKER 1: Authentic or not, the subtle expression of the woman in this painting is masterful enough to make museum goers
stop and wonder what secrets lie behind her timeless smile. Mona Lisas and mermaids, heroic deeds, daring
escapes, homes of the future, and treasures of the past, amazing objects each guarding an incredible secret,
these are the Mysteries at the Museum.