Solve-it #031: Missing da Vinci – Solution


Renard Pujot, the art forger.

He burned it, then carted off the bible in the sack to make it look like a theft.

He had made two perfect forgeries of the bust and planned to sell them as the real thing.


There are collectors in the world who gladly buy stolen art treasures and Renard Pujot figured out a safe and profitable way of satisfying their greed.

After everyone was in bed, Renard sneaked down to the library and placed the priceless da Vinci in the fire, adding kindling to make sure it would burn. The only thing left of it would be the two marble eyes and a crackling glow to greet the abbot at his morning prayers.

Renard’s next goal was to make it seem as if the da Vinci had been stolen. He disguised himself in a monk’s robe, placed the huge bible in a sack then paraded in front of the video camera. Once outside, he dropped the bible into a dry well and threw the sack over the wall, where it became lodged in the branches of a tree.

A week later, Renard began negotiations with two billionaire art collectors, both of whom knew about the “theft” and were convinced that they were buying the authentic da Vinci. Renard knew he would be safe. Neither collector could ever show off his acquisition, nor could he afford to have an expert come in and authenticate it.


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