The Mona Lisa may hang at the Louvre, but few ever get the chance to see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece without distraction. Now, Christie’s wants to give you a chance to see the world’s most famous painting up close, personal—and without tourists.
Each year, Mona Lisa is taken out of its display case and carefully examined by restoration experts. The auction house and Hotel Drouout in Paris are teaming up offer art lovers the the opportunity to witness that process through an auction that ends on December 15.
To be sure, witnessing the Mona Lisa‘s annual examination is a far cry from a standard museum visit. Normally, to see the historic painting you would have to work through the throngs of tourists that pack the museum’s Salle des États on a daily basis. And even if you’re brave or lucky enough to get to the front of that pack, your view of the painting is still obscured by its thick bulletproof and climate-controlled display case.
But if you win the one-of-kind experience, you’ll be able to see the Mona Lisa without obstruction or competition. You and a guest will accompany Louvre President Jean-Luc Martinez and watch as the painting is taken down, removed from its case and inspected by the museum’s most trusted conservators, according to the auction listing. (Of particularly concern to the experts is a crack located at the top of the wooden panel the work is painted on, which has been present since at least the 18th century.)
“You will be able to look straight into the eyes of the Mona Lisa and admire this iconic work from up close,” the auction listing says.
But that’s not all. After the inspection, Martinez will lead you and your guest on a private tour of the Grande Galerie, which houses other famous works by Leonardo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Veronese and more. You’ll also get to take in a private concert in the Caryatids Hall.
Christie’s expects the experience to sell for somewhere between $12,000 and $36,000, but don’t be surprised if it hammers down for significantly more. Proceeds from the auction will be used to help offset losses due to the pandemic and keep the famed museum “accessible to all,” according to CNN. Winning bidders will have a two-year window in which to witness the restoration.