“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”
Simone was a clever, intelligent young woman who prided herself on her ability to solve any riddle or puzzle that was put before her. Doggedly, she would hunt down every last clue before she would unveil her treasure, often surprising even herself with her discoveries.
Simone had heard rumors of something hidden in the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa, carefully poised within the Louvre itself. Although she had searched through every scrap of paper that she could find and greased every palm in her search for answers, she had only been able to catch the barest of whispers within the art world. Not one to give up for any reason, the intrepid treasure hunter made her way to Paris to retrace her steps in the hopes of finding a new avenue that she had overlooked before.
When she made it to her hotel, there was a message waiting for her at the front desk.
“Meet me at the Louvre,” it read. There was nothing to indicate who it was from, but Simone had been down this road before. There had been many times that shady individuals clamoring behind their anonymity had sent her clues that ultimately led to her prize, so she wasn’t about to ignore this one.
She raced to the Louvre as fast as her broken French could get her there, scanning for any sign of her mysterious benefactor. She saw him near the door. She could tell it was him from the shifty way his eyes tried not to meet hers but begged her attention. She had seen that look so many times before. When he pulled her to the side by her elbow, he whispered fervently to her of a hidden code amongst the famous brush strokes of DaVinci’s famous portrait. This was exactly what Simone had been waiting to see, so she urged him to show her what he meant.
Claude, her new found co-conspirator, ushered Simone into the winding maze of the museum to the infamous enigmatic smile. Carefully watching for any guards or overly chatty tour guides, he withdrew a magnifying glass from his pocket and held it up to Mona Lisa’s eyes. Simone held her breath as she peered through to find painted into the irises were the letters L, V, C, and E, as well as a series of numbers. Simone quickly wrote them down before turning to Claude and asking, “How did you find this?”
“How is not important. What is important is where to go from here. Go to the Hotel La Gioconda in Florence, Italy and look for Alfonso Dinapoli. There you will find what you seek.”
Simone wasted no time in doing just that. It was only evening by the time that she arrived at the hotel that had once been the Hotel Tripoli, the place where Vincenzo Peruggia hid the Mona Lisa when he stole it in 1911. Hoping that she could charm the front desk clerk into giving her more information, Simone asked him if Alfonso Dinapoli had checked in.
The clerk’s face went white. “So it’s true! Wait right here!” He turned around and produced a single white envelope from one of the mailboxes behind him. “We were told to give this to the person who asked for Alfonso Dinapoli.”
Simone stared at the envelope in disbelief for a few moments before carefully opening the letter. Inside, there was an aged black and white photograph of a villa nestled on a hill with a model posing for a group of artists among the olive trees. As she scanned the picture, she noticed that one of the young men gathered around the central artist was Vincenzo Peruggia. Flipping the photograph over, she received the confirmation that she was looking for; “Alfonso Dinapoli - 1901”. Realizing that this villa was the next clue, Simone quickly sought out the directions before calling a taxi.
The long gravel road was empty and lonesome, long and winding until it met an abandoned house. Forlorn and broken, it stood in the overgrown weeds and laden olive trees like a rotting corpse, reluctant to give up its secrets. Simone pushed her way inside, her heart beating rapidly in her chest. Searching the skeletal walls and doorways, she found an inscription above the cellar door that made her push further inside. “L, V, C…” Finding a locked door brittle and broken, she kicked her way through to find a combination safe. Her quest was nearly at an end.
Pulling out the code that she had seen reflected in Mona Lisa’s eyes, she quickly turned the dials, forcing her hands steady. Opening the heavy metal door, Simone gasped as the real Mona Lisa came into view. Claude, really Alfonso Dinapoli in disguise, had known all along that Vincenzo Peruggia had really stolen the Mona Lisa, and the one hanging in the Louvre was a forgery. But here, right before her eyes, was the true masterpiece of Leonardo DaVinci. Another treasure had been discovered!
When we use our curiosity as a stepping stone to action, we are always rewarded. Never stop developing your mind and researching the things that drive your curiosity. It is through perseverance and research that the universe unfolds its answers.