Why Is The Mona Lisa So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)


Mona Lisa painting


One of the most famous paintings in history is the Mona Lisa.

Painted by Leonardo da Vinci, this mysterious painting has been at the center of many conspiracies and historical debates.

Although the Mona Lisa is technically priceless, it did receive an evaluation back in the 1960s for $100 million.

When you consider inflation, the value of the painting jumps to over $840 million.

Here are 10 reasons why the Mona Lisa is so expensive.


Why Is The Mona Lisa So Expensive?


1. Unsellable

Discontented man showing thumb down


Perhaps one of the reasons why the Mona Lisa has such a high price tag associated with it is because it’s actually unsellable.

The Louvre cannot sell the Mona Lisa because of a specific law.

Article L451-5 states that goods in a museum in France that belong to a public person are also part of the public domain.

As such, those goods are inalienable.

This means that the museum cannot sell the good or goods.

That said, there are ways for museums to change the status of some of their goods to sell them.

To do so, they have to bring it to the High Council of Museums of France.

The council will then decide whether to change the status of the good or not, allowing or denying its sale.

This law protects the Mona Lisa from sale.

It’s unlikely that the council would agree to let the Louvre sell the Mona Lisa, so it’s impossible for the Louvre to sell it, making the Mona Lisa all the more valuable.

Art collectors and the like want to get their hands on precious paintings, and the Mona Lisa is, perhaps, the biggest part of their collection that they, or anyone else, could own.

The fact that they can’t get their hands on it only makes their interest in the painting even higher.

With more interest and demand, if the Mona Lisa were ever to go up for sale, her price would be exceptionally high.

The Mona Lisa is expensive because France can’t sell her.


2. Fame

Louvre Museum view


According to a report by CNN, the Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world.

This wasn’t always the case, however.

For a long time, the painting did not have the famous reputation it holds today.

In 1911 a former employee at the Louvre stole the painting and kept it hidden for two years.

The mad search for the painting garnered a lot of interest in it.

After all, if someone wanted to risk their freedom for a painting, then it surely must have a high value.

It was this that brought the spotlight to the painting, and its spotlight hasn’t diminished since.

The Guardian reports that around 30,000 people visit the Louvre a day.

Most of those visitors make a beeline right for the Mona Lisa.

Its fame and popularity are also one of the reasons why it’s valued so high.

Anything famous or popular comes with a more expensive price tag since it means there’s more interest in it.

If the Mona Lisa were to ever go on sale, a lot of people would be interested because she’s so famous.

Even people who do not collect art normally might be interested in so famous a painting.

This wouldn’t be the case for a painting that isn’t as popular or famous.

It’d be lucky to garner interest from some art collectors.

Due to the Mona Lisa’s fame, if it were to ever go on auction, then you’d have everyone from art collectors to billionaires to celebrities trying to get their hands on it.

This would inflate the price substantially and make the Mona Lisa extremely expensive.


3. Historical Artifact

Visitors take photo of "Mona Lisa"


Even if the Mona Lisa wasn’t painted by a famous painter, it’s still a valuable historical artifact.

Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa sometime between 1503 and 1519.

It’s believed that he worked on it slowly during this time, but no one is sure when he started and finished the painting exactly.

The painting features the depiction of a young woman in standard clothes for those times.

It gives historians and viewers a glimpse into 1500s Europe.

Everything from her clothes to her hairstyle is a wealth of information for historians to feast on.

The original Mona Lisa painting is also done on wood rather than canvas.

While canvas was available during Leonardo’s time, many artists preferred to use wood for their smaller artworks.

The material of the painting, thus, is historical in its own right, too.

Besides protecting the paint, the reason that Louvre has the painting in a controlled environment is also because of the wood.

Any time something is historical, it has some value to it.

That’s because, in most cases, that particular item isn’t made anymore.

Historians find old artifacts valuable since it tells the story of mankind.

The Mona Lisa is a remarkable historical artifact since it not only depicts life in the 1500s but also gives details on what paints were popular during that time.

It gives a hint as to how painters prepared their paints and the ingredients used in them, and it demonstrates the sort of preparation that painters had to give their mediums.

Rare, valuable, historical artifacts like the Mona Lisa are expensive because they generate a lot of interest from historians.

If the painting were to ever go on sale, then there’d be a lot of clamor among historians to get their hands on it.

It appeals to several different types of historians, too.

With so much interest in the painting, the demand for her would be high which would lead to an extremely expensive price tag.

The Mona Lisa is expensive because it’s a valuable historical artifact.


4. Unique

 Large-scale graffiti of the modern Mona Lisa


Another reason the Mona Lisa is expensive is that it’s unique.

While you can buy a cheap poster of the Mona Lisa at almost any kind of art gift store, museum, or even online, that doesn’t mean you’re buying the Mona Lisa.

There is only one Mona Lisa painting, and it’s hanging in the Louvre.

When you buy a poster or replica, that’s exactly what you’re buying.

It’s a copy of the Mona Lisa and not the actual thing.

That’s because the painting is unique.

Leonardo da Vinci did not make two Mona Lisa paintings.

Even if he did, since he did his paintings by hand–there wasn’t any way to copy his prints electronically, after all–the two would likely be different.

Even a gifted painter like Leonardo da Vinci would make slight mistakes or adjustments while he was painting.

If he were to complete a second Mona Lisa, it would still be different from the other one.

As such, both would be unique Mona Lisa paintings.

Since there’s only one, however, it’s unique unto itself.

Leonardo da Vinci died long ago, so there’s no chance of him ever making another one.

It’s because there’s only one that makes the painting so valuable and expensive.

Only one person could ever own her.

Considering she’s the most famous painting in the world, there are likely lots of people who would love to be the ones to call themselves the owner of the painting.

It’d bring them a kind of status that no other painting could.

Like all unique things, since there’s only one, it becomes more expensive.

That’s because the supply, which in this case is one, is low.

It can’t meet demand, which is extremely high, so the price skyrockets.


5. Collectible

Mona lisa in coffee froth


One of the biggest reasons that the Mona Lisa is expensive is because it’s a collectible.

Even if it wasn’t as famous as it is, there’d be a lot of parties interested in her.

That’s because art appeals to a bunch of different collectors.

One example is art collectors.

Those who love to collect famous works of art or pieces from famous artists would definitely want to get their hands on the Mona Lisa.

Due to her fame, she’d be the pinnacle prize for them.

Even art collectors who focus on collecting certain types of art styles like realism or impressionism would have an interest in the Mona Lisa.

Besides art collectors, you also have historians who have an interest in collecting the piece, since the Mona Lisa is not only a work of art but also a historical artifact.

That would generate interest among historians who are looking to add to their collections.

Historical collectors may have a certain time period that they specialize in.

The Mona Lisa would be an ideal collector’s item for someone who collects artifacts from the 16th century.

Besides historians, there are also Leonardo da Vinci collectors.

These are people who focus solely on hunting down and collecting all of his creations.

Since da Vinci was a mastermind who had his fingers in everything from poetry to painting to even inventions, collectors have no shortage of items to hunt down and collect.

The Mona Lisa would be a prized part of a Leonardo da Vinci collection.

You’d also have the more casual collectors like celebrities and the ultra-wealthy.

They may want to get their hands on it for the status and esteem that it would give them.

The Mona Lisa is expensive because of all the people who want to get their hands on the painting.


6. Ties To Leonardo Da Vinci

Statue of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan


While the Mona Lisa is famous in its own right, it’s her connection to Leonardo da Vinci that really adds to her fame.

Leonardo da Vinci was the pinnacle of a Renaissance man.

He was a scientist, a brilliant mathematician, an inventor, an engineer, a painter, an astronomist, an architect, a sculptor, a musician, a botanist, and even a writer.

There was little that didn’t interest him.

Leonardo da Vinci also spent a good amount of his time traveling to the various cities of Italy.

He learned from a great master painter named Verrocchio, and he painted for kings and queens throughout Europe.

Considering that he was the illegitimate son of a notary and peasant woman, he rose high in social rank and wealth.

Eventually, he settled down in a home given to him by King François I in France.

During his lifetime, he created incredible works of art and inventions.

For example, he conceived notions of the modern submarine and plane.

He also had incredible insight into anatomy and how muscles worked.

For his time, there’s no question that Leonard da Vinci was a genius.

Because of his fame and claims to history, anything associated with him immediately becomes more expensive.

Anytime a new da Vinci painting gets discovered or a new book with words written by him gets uncovered, there’s a high value on those items.

As time has gone on, his fame has only increased and with fame comes fans and collectors.

Those individuals want to own something belonging to the famous painter and inventor.

Since many consider the Mona Lisa to be his most famous painting, she’s the real prize.

The Mona Lisa is expensive because she’s tied forever to the fame of Leonardo da Vinci.


7. Hollywood Connections



If the Mona Lisa wasn’t famous in her own right, then her use in several Hollywood films has surely made her iconic.

Perhaps one of the most famous Hollywood franchises that she was a part of was The Da Vinci Code, which is based on a book series of the same name written by Dan Brown.

In the series, the main characters discover a controversy surrounding most of the works of da Vinci.

They find themselves needing to follow the clues to find the Holy Grail, among other artifacts, before a mysterious organization does in their stead.

The films featured several of Da Vinci’s works including the Mona Lisa.

There are also several other movies that either feature the Mona Lisa in passing or revolve around the mysteries of the woman depicted within it.

Any time something gets the Hollywood treatment, it becomes a little more valuable.

That’s because cinema is a great way to introduce something to the mass public.

The general public might not all choose to read an art history book about the Mona Lisa.

However, if you put some quick historical facts about the Mona Lisa into a movie, they’re going to walk away with that information in their head.

Since more people know about the painting, it means there’s more interest in it.

Cinephiles and movie collectors might also have an interest in the Mona Lisa.

Those who are fans of Dan Brown, especially, might have an interest in the painting since they might believe she holds a few secrets.

With that interest comes greater demand for the painting if it were to ever go on sale.


8. Marks A Change In Artistic Style

Cropped shot of tender young artist


One of the significant things about the Mona Lisa is the change it represented in art styles.

Leonardo da Vinci used the Mona Lisa to teach his students a new style called sfumato.

According to PBS, the style meant that the artist had to paint without borders or strokes.

Or, rather, that their brushstrokes were so light that they didn’t create borders or noticeable strokes.

In particular, the style had a focus on the bending of light and shadows.

Light, in particular, was something that fascinated Leonardo da Vinci.

He had a great interest in capturing how light reflected on surfaces.

The Mona Lisa was one of the first paintings where he used this new style which explains why the painting has an almost magical quality to it.

It was after the Mona Lisa grew in popularity that other artists, like Picasso, started to learn the style and incorporate it into their own paintings.

The Mona Lisa essentially innovated how artists painted, As a result, it has an important, mechanical, place in history when it comes to art styles.

It set the standard for what certain types of paintings should look like.

The Mona Lisa is expensive because it showcases a revolutionary change in art styles that inspired several artists after its release.


9. Theft

Burglar sneaking in a open house door


One might argue that Mona Lisa wouldn’t be as famous as it is today if someone hadn’t once stolen it.

According to NPR, the Mona Lisa wasn’t even that famous during the time it got stolen.

At most, it was art historians and collectors who found the painting remarkable.

The general public didn’t much care for it.

That all changed on August 21st, 1911, when three men snuck into the Louvre, removed the painting from its glass case, and stole it.

A media sensation immediately erupted around the theft.

There was a big push to recover the painting.

Some of the greatest paintings that France had owned previously were already owned by American millionaires.

They worried that they’d get their hands on the painting, too.

Some even suspected millionaires to be behind the theft.

Picasso, for example, was a suspect for a time for the theft.

Others worried that it was a plot from Germany.

The theft took place shortly before the first World War and tensions between Germany and other European countries were starting to grow dire.

Due to the massive push to find the painting, the media had a field day on it.

This captured the interest of the general public who followed the case closely.

The Mona Lisa was eventually found.

The thieves were Vincenzo and Michele Lancelotti, two brothers, and Vincenzo Perugia who was a former handyman at the museum.

Due to the media sensation, the Mona Lisa quickly became a household name.

Its dramatic history has only increased its fame and popularity since.


10. Quality

Reproduction of famous painting in Osaka


Whenever something is high-quality, it’s going to be more expensive.

When it comes to the Mona Lisa, many art historians and critics consider it top-quality art.

Not only does it showcase remarkable talent, but even those who aren’t critics sometimes describe a haunting quality to it.

They’re left with an indescribable feeling after seeing the beauty and mystery that the painting offers.

Perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of the painting is the woman’s smile.

It has an almost enigmatic quality to it.

Not only is it mysterious, but how Leonardo da Vinci captured it is remarkable.

Everything from its style to its features is top-quality.

As with anything that is high quality, it’s going to fetch a high price.



The Mona Lisa is one of the most, if not the most, famous paintings in the world.

This fame has only added to its value.

Although the painting is priceless, were it to sell, the factors above would give it an extremely expensive price tag.

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