Director: Joe Medeiros Producer: Joe Medeiros, Justine Medeiros Country: USA
Editor: Joe Medeiros
It began in 1976 with a sentence in a book. The book was about Leonardo da Vinci and the sentence was: 'On August 21, 1911, an Italian named Vincenzo Peruggia stole the picture to take to Italy'. What picture did he steal? The Mona Lisa. Not only did he steal it, but he kept it for nearly 2-1/2 years then brought it to Italy claiming to have done it for patriotic reasons. Joe Medeiros, a recent film school graduate, thought this would make a great feature film. But since no one really knew Peruggia's motive and Medeiros never wanted to fictionalize it, the script remained unfinished for more than 30 years. In 2008, the director learned that Peruggia's 84-year-old daughter Celestina was alive. He figured that she'd have answers. So he went to see her. It turned out that her father died when she was a toddler and she didn't know that much about him. So Medeiros set out on a quest to find the truth for both of them. This led him to Paris and Florence where he retraced Peruggia's steps as he poured through thousands of documents about the theft to piece together this puzzle. In the end, in the Florence archives, Medeiros stumbled on Peruggia's letters and he learned that the man was not as patriotic as his daughter thought. Medeiros had to return to Celestina to tell her the truth about her father but it may not have been what she wanted to hear.
Joe Medeiros has been writing and directing his own films since 1969 produced by his own company, Midair Rose Productions. Joe directed the award winning short documentaries Sailing the Star of India, Sailing Heritage Society and Doors of Florence. Joe has also written and directed several commercials for a Philadelphia advertising agency and has been the head writer of the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for 15 years. The Missing Piece: The Truth About Vincenzo Peruggia and the Unthinkable Theft of the Mona Lisa is his first feature length documentary. Joe is considered to be the leading expert in all areas regarding the theft of the Mona Lisa and Vincenzo Peruggia's life. In fact, in May 2010, he was invited to Paris to appear in Kensington Communications' Museum Mysteries. The series will be aired on National Geographic Channel in 2011.