Selling Mona Lisa Could Ease France's National Debt

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Selling Mona Lisa Could Ease France's National Debt

Can a national treasure be used to pay off the national debt?

The state-run news agency France 24 has suggested Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa be sold to pay off France's $2.6 trillion debt. Despite the fact the masterpiece is said to be "priceless," France 24 speculates the Mona Lisa could easily be worth $2.4 billion and its sale could wipe away nearly 0.1 percent of the debt in one fell swoop. Apparently the work was valued at nearly $100 million in the 1960s, so France 24 estimates it would be worth $2.4 billion today after inflation.

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The Mona Lisa and the Louvre
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Selling Mona Lisa Could Ease France's National Debt
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 28: Visitors take pictures of Leonardo da Vinci 'Mona Lisa' inside the Louvre museum on February 28, 2014 in Paris, France. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, one of the world's largest museums which opened 1793. (Photo by Christian Marquardt/Getty Images)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Front) and his wife Akie (3rd R) look at 'La Joconde', a 1503-1506 oil on wood portrait of Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, at the Louvre Museum in Paris on May 4, 2014. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in France Sunday on the latest leg of a six-nation European tour for trade and security talks at a time of mounting tensions with China. Abe arrived in the French capital on Sunday afternoon and immediately left for a private visit to the Louvre that included stops at the museum's best known works, including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN (Photo credit should read STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)
The Louvre is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, where famous sculptures and paintings like Mona Lisa are displayed. (Photo by Jayakumar Radhakrishnan via Getty Images)
Alessandro Vezzosi, the director of the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Vinci, presents a painting unveiled by the Mona Lisa Foundation on September 27, 2012 in Geneva. The Swiss foundation claims the painting is an earlier version of the 'Mona Lisa' painted by Leonardo da Vinci, although some experts said the claim was unlikely. The Zurich-based Mona Lisa Foundation presented what it described as a 'stunning portrait of Lisa del Giocondo,' along with results from 35 years of research and scientific tests which it claimed proved it was the work of da Vinci and had been completed about 10 years before its famous sister in the Louvre. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)
Picture of a TV screen showing scientific tests made on 'Isleworth Mona Lisa' (L) and the Louvre Museum da Vinci's masterpiece taken during the unveiling by the Mona Lisa Foundation on September 27, 2012 in Geneva of what the foundation claims is an earlier version of the 'Mona Lisa' painted by Leonardo da Vinci, although some experts said the claim was unlikely. The Zurich-based Mona Lisa Foundation presented what it described as a 'stunning portrait of Lisa del Giocondo,' along with results from 35 years of research and scientific tests which it claimed proved it was the work of da Vinci and had been completed about 10 years before its famous sister in the Louvre. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)
Paris, France - February 19, 2014: Beautiful view of the Louvre museum in Paris, France, on February 19, 2014
Paris, France - June 18, 2014: Louvre museum at dusk on June 18, 2014 in Paris. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in France displayed over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space.
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Ratiba Hamzaoui wrote, "Her enigmatic smile beams down on hundreds of thousands of tourists a year at the Louvre Museum in Paris. And she could also bring a smile to France's cash-strapped government if a sale could ease the national debt."

There is a major problem with this solution though -- the Louvre doesn't own the Mona Lisa. According to law, national treasures are owned by the nation. But France has been selling off what it can within the law. They've sold buildings and a large number of their finest wines from the presidential cellars in an attempt to lower national debt.

So the Mona Lisa will be in France for a long time to come, but so will its debt.
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