In Red Dragon—a Thomas Harris novel that’s been adapted as Manhunter, as a 2002 film directed by Brett Ratner, and as a story arc in Hannibal—a serial killer named Francis Dolarhyde who’s obsessed with William Blake attempts to control his murderous impulses by eating the original The Great Red Dragon And The Woman Clothed In Sun. In 2021, an American musician has started a petition that prompted Vice to question whether a more hands-off style of monster, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, could replicate this trick using Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
The petition in question, titled “We want Jeff Bezos to buy and eat the Mona Lisa,” has just about reached its goal of 7,500 signatures at the time of writing, all based on nothing more than a description that reads, “Nobody has eaten the mona lisa and we feel jeff bezos needs to take a stand and make this happen.” Vice interviewed the guy responsible for this latest expression of salted earth modern culture, and learned that the idea came from an idle, “dollar drink menu” driven conversation about Bezos devouring the painting “just because he has the money to do it.”
Now that the petition has caught on with an internet that wants to watch the world burn, Vice decided to take a look at whether Bezos could, in fact, buy and eat the Mona Lisa. This investigation begins by saying that, while “it’s difficult to put an actual dollar value on the painting,” the Louvre would lose the equivalent of $42M if da Vinci’s portrait was removed from the museum for just three months. Still, at a (possibly overestimated) sales price of €50/$60.6 billion, Bezos could part with a chunk of his reportedly $192.5 billion net worth to turn a Renaissance masterpiece into a ball of stomach goop if the museum did decide to sell the work.
The article also discusses whether Bezos, once he’s bought the piece, could actually eat it without dying. It explains that even if he managed to choke down the thin wood that serves as its canvas, he’d have to deal with some pretty serious lead poisoning thanks to the primer and paint. Still, and this is just us editorializing here, we imagine he has access to sci-fi medical technology that could render this point moot.
With that poisonous fact aside—and if the Louvre could be convinced to part with the painting—it seems the continued, undigested state of the Mona Lisa depends on whether or not it’s up to a billionaire’s personal taste. We know that Bezos will munch on iguana, so, basically, our best hope is that he stays busy enough with space exploration that he doesn’t investigate this idea further while trying to figure out how best to use his newly available free time.
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