On a visit to the Gallery in May 1962, Jackie Kennedy reportedly said to the visiting French Cultural Minister, Andre Malraux: “I would love to see the ‘Mona Lisa’ again and show her to Americans.” Malraux reportedly replied, “I’ll see what I can do.”
With French President Charles de Gaulle’s approval the loan was secured. It was made directly to the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and the American people, by the government of the French Republic. More than half a million visitors came to see the Mona Lisa at the Gallery in January and February of 1963. The painting was installed on a baffle draped in red velvet, and was guarded around the clock by United States Marines. Because of the crowds visitors had to wait in line for up to two hours.
President John F. Kennedy, Mms Malraux, Andre Malraux, First Lady Jackie Kennedy, and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson at the unveiling of the "Mona Lisa" on January 8, 1963, National Gallery of Art, Gallery Archives; Visitors line up to see the “Mona Lisa,” National Gallery of Art, Gallery Archives