How much would it be worth to get to see that Mona Lisa smile up close and personal, without any fellow gawkers blocking your view? According to one person, $98,000. That's how much a bidder paid for the chance to watch as da Vinci's famous painting is removed from its case for its annual inspection. Sky News reports that museumgoers usually can get no closer than 15 feet away from the Paris museum's most famous piece of art. But each year, the Mona Lisa is taken out from behind the bulletproof glass that protects it so that conservation experts can examine it more closely—it's long been warping and cracking. The winner of a recent Christie's auction designed to benefit the Louvre will now get to witness this.
Forbes notes the winner will also get a private tour of the museum's Grande Galerie, which features works by Italian greats such as Caravaggio and Raphael. The Mona Lisa event is one of the "once-in-a-lifetime experiences" the Louvre is auctioning off to try to raise money to offset the hit it's taken this year during the COVID-19 pandemic; a Louvre staffer tells Sky the museum is set to lose up to $110 million in 2020 revenue. CNN reports on some of the other experiences that sold, including a private night tour of the museum by torchlight, which went for $46,000, and a private concert in the museum's Caryatids room, which someone snatched up for $51,000. Auction organizers say proceeds from the sales will go toward making the Louvre "accessible to all." (One writer makes the case for moving the Mona Lisa out of the Louvre.)