GREENWICH VILLAGE — A fake "Mona Lisa" painted by an infamous art forger is hanging on the wall of a Greenwich Village cafe.
The faux Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece, on display at Think Coffee on Mercer Street, is the handiwork of Mark Landis, an unassuming Mississippi man who has spent more than 30 years forging great works of art and then, posing as a philanthropist, "donating" them to museums around the country.
Landis is the subject of a new documentary called "Art and Craft," which is screening a few blocks away from Think Coffee at the Angelika Film Center. To promote the film, its distributor, Oscilloscope Laboratories, asked Landis to forge the Mona Lisa.
Landis assented, and though it was his first attempt at a Renaissance-era artwork, it took him just 90 minutes to complete, the film's distributors said. He signed his own signature on it, rather than Leonardo's.
The painting is for sale for $25,000. Distributors said proceeds will go to the Lauren Rogers Museum in Landis' hometown of Laurel, Mississippi, one of the institutions Landis tricked over his decadeslong career as a con artist.
Think manager Alex Lee said the documentary's promoters came in to ask about installing the painting, which hangs alongside the local artwork that the coffee shop regularly displays. After speaking to the employee who curates Think Coffee's art, Lee agreed to host the forgery.
"I think maybe people think we're being pithy," said Lee, 27. "Here's all this local artwork and then a 'Mona Lisa.'"
The forged classic did not seem to draw much attention from Think Coffee's clientele after it was installed Tuesday.
"If I had $25,000, that is not what I would use it for," Lilla said.