It's with great sadness that I tell you that Celestina Peruggia passed away on Thursday, March 10 2011 in Italy. From the moment I met her in May 2008, I felt like she was the grandmother I always wanted. She was so kind and sweet and shared with us everything she knew about her father so that we could tell his story in our film.
She had suffered in the last few years from heart problems. Last year, she lost her husband Amleto, her companion of more than 60 years.
Although we had spoken to Celestina on several occasions, the last time we saw her was in October 2008 when we shared with her what we found out about her father Vincenzo.
At that time, she said that she was happy with what we found and was closing the story of the Gioconda and would not do any more interviews.
I feel tremendously lucky and honored not only to have known this fine woman, her husband Amleto, daughter Graziella and son Silvio but to be able to tell the story of her father in an honest, factual and human way.
If the man who stole the Mona Lisa was anything like his daughter Celestina, I would have been happy to have known him.
I've been seeing this woman's face every day for the last 3 years as I've worked on the film. It's like losing a family member. I hope that she's with her husband Amleto, her mother Annunciata, her second father Ernesto and her "vero papa" Vincenzo.
I hope our film, "The Missing Piece" is a fitting tribute to them all.