Ultra-billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has already been the subject of a petition asking him not to return to Earth after he blasts off in his New Shepard rocket on July 20, but even if he is allowed back, Bezos is now facing an even more difficult prospect.
The aerodynamically-pated arch-villain archetype and his vast fortune are increasingly becoming subjects of fascination for the denizens of campaign website Change.org, with multiple petitions currently running, mostly trying to persuade him to divert some of his almost-limitless resources toward good causes.
However, some users are suggesting more novel and entertaining uses for his immense wealth. Change.org user Kane Powell has chosen to use the platform to attempt to persuade Bezos to buy and eat the Mona Lisa, the supposedly priceless Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece housed in the Louvre in Paris.
In a petition simply called “We want Jeff Bezos to buy and eat the Mona Lisa”, Powell describes his campaign thus:
“Nobody has eaten the Mona Lisa and we feel Jeff Bezos needs to take a stand and make this happen.”
The campaign, which has taken up the signatory-sourced informal subtitle “Gobble da Lisa!” has taken a considerable time to gain momentum, with the Change.org website suggesting it has been active for over a year. But it has been given new impetus by a recent Vice article and now boasts over 9,000 signatures.
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Powell reportedly came up with the idea for the campaign while dining at a branch of Applebee's with his fiancee and some friends, although his reasons for suggesting that Bezos eat the masterpiece remain obscure, even to him: “Me and my fiancée were dipping into the dollar drink menu,” he explained.
Signatories to the plan have expressed considerable enthusiasm for Bezos's potential consumption of the enigmatic portrait.
“Sick of waking up to a world where Bezos has not consumed the Mona Lisa,” wrote Kate Woods on Tuesday.
User Vito S had a more practical reason for wanting the Mona Lisa gone: “Jeff needs to eat Mona before Mona eats Jeff. It's self defence,” he suggested, while James Branan offered a more encouraging “MONAPPETIT!”
While it is unlikely that the French Republic would part with the painting, even if Bezos were to offer to buy it, if it were ever to be sold then he could almost certainly afford it. At the time of writing, the highest amount ever paid for a painting was $450.3m, which was shelled out by Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud of Saudi Arabia in November 2017 for another da Vinci painting: Salvator Mundi.
Given that Bezos is currently worth $193.5bn, according to Forbes' latest estimate, he could probably find the asking price as lost change in the turn-ups of his designer chinos, even taking into account the considerable premium the Republic would ask for it being the world's most famous painting and one of the most famous images of any kind.
Whether he would want to eat it is a different question. The Mona Lisa was painted on a panel made from a plank of poplar wood, rather than canvas, which when combined with the fact it is now over 500 years old would make it extremely chewy, to say the least.
Furthermore, the paints Da Vinci used contain all manner of horrifically poisonous and otherwise unpleasant ingredients, including silica, tin, iron oxide, mercury, crushed insects and a lot of lead.
Given the difficulty of physically consuming the painting, Bezos might want to warm up with a starter, perhaps a tasty freebie thrown in by the Louvre to whet his appetite?
Unfortunately, artworks owned by French public bodies cannot be sold or given away, as Article 451-5 of the French “Heritage Code” law governing national treasures stipulates: “Collections held in museums that belong to public bodies are considered public property and cannot be otherwise.”
So, even if the Louvre wanted to add, say, Titian's delicious-looking Madonna and Child with St. Catherine and a Rabbit as a free bonus appetiser for a valued customer, they would be legally barred from doing so.
Sometimes, even Jeff Bezos has to pay attention to local comp-a-Titian laws. ®