This Weekend In History…

August 19, 1909
The first race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, now the home of the world’s most famous motor racing competition, the Indianapolis 500. 12,000 spectators watched Austrian engineer Louis Schwitzer win with an average speed of 57.4 miles per hour.

Prime Minister Eaten by Mob

August 20, 1672

Johan de Witt, former Grand Pensionary (Prime Minister) of Holland and his brother are lynched by an angry mob who ate their body parts, including their roasted livers. As Prime Minister of Holland, he had neglected the Dutch army causing the Dutch Republic to be easily invaded by an alliance of countries that included England and France. He and his brother were blamed for the defeats and were lynched in The Hague, where their bodies were cannibalized by the mob.

Mona Lisa Stolen

August 21, 1911

Leonardo da Vinci‘s famous painting is stolen from the Louvre in Paris. Pablo Picasso was implicated in the theft, but was eventually exonerated. The thief turned out to be Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia who stole the painting by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet, and then walking out with the painting hidden under his coat. The theft was not discovered until the following day. Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed Leonardo’s painting should have been returned to an Italian museum. After having kept the Mona Lisa in his apartment for two years, Peruggia was caught when he attempted to sell it to the director of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Peruggia served six months in prison for the crime and was hailed for his patriotism in Italy.