Clooney's 'Monuments Men' movie researcher coming to Sarasota

HERALD STAFF REPORTJanuary 11, 2014 

Research has become Robert Edsel's hallmark after he began investigating the Nazi villains who looted Europe of its arts treasures -- and the Allied heroes who saved many of them. PROVIDED PHOTO

SARASOTA -- Robert Edsel, recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal, and author of numerous books, including "Rescuing Da Vinci," and "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History," will headline The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee's "People of the Book" event at 7 p.m. March 10 at Riverview High School, 1 Ram Way, in Sarasota.

Edsel is a prolific writer, speaker and former entrepreneur in the oil and gas industry.

Research has become his hallmark after he began investigating the Nazi villains who looted Europe of its arts treasures -- and the Allied heroes who saved many of them. He was the consultant for "The Monuments Men" movie directed by and starring George Clooney set to open in February.

Howard Tevlowitz, executive director of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, said the Monuments Men Foundation's main mission was to discover all the original leather-bound albums of photos of stolen paintings, furniture, and other cultural treasures.

"In 1945 the members of the MFAA found 39 original albums assembled by Hitler's special task force," said Tevlowitz. "Along with other records, these albums documented the art that Hitler stole for his intended museum in Austria. These albums are just the tip of the iceberg because hundreds of thousands of cultural items are still missing."

The albums, evidence during the Nuremberg Trials, have become important documents to humanity, he said.

"I hope that these past discoveries will encourage other members of the MFAA and their families, as well as other veterans, to look in their attics and basements for any wartime items that might help unravel the unsolved mystery."

Edsel's research became the foundation for his books, including "Saving Italy: The Race To Rescue a Nation's Treasures From the Nazis."

Edsel is founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, which received the 2007 National Humanities Medal under President George W. Bush.

He donated two albums of photographic evidence of the Third Reich's theft of art treasures to the U.S. National Archives.

Edsel said he hopes the release of "The Monuments Men" film will increase public awareness for the missing treasures.

"It's a beautiful movie with a powerful message," Edsel said. "It shows how a cultural legacy can continue to thrive thanks to the heroic efforts of a few. I'm hoping 'The Monuments Men' will provoke others to share knowledge of the whereabouts of the treasures that belong to our

civilization. I'm also hopeful that, after viewing this film, the descendants of these heroes will learn more about the bravery and the vital role that their fathers and grandparents played."

The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to save Jewish lives and enhance Jewish life in the Sarasota-Manatee region, in Israel and throughout the world.

Tickets cost a minimum, tax-deductible gift of $36 for individuals or $72 for a family to the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

Required RSVPs can be made at jfedsrq.org/events.aspx, or by calling Jennifer New at 941-552-6304.

Information: 941-371-4546 or visit TheJewishFederation.org.

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