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Rescuing Da Vinci Author Joins TMA For Fall Lecture Series October 5
Robert M. Edsel

TYLER, TX.- A modern “Renaissance Man” is set to take the podium as the TMA continues its Fall Lecture Series with a program by filmmaker and bestselling Rescuing Da Vinci author Robert M. Edsel on Sunday, Oct. 5.

The program, titled “Is Art Worth a Life? War, Hitler and the Monuments Men,” is scheduled for 2 p.m. Oct. 5 in Tyler Junior College’s Wise Auditorium. The audience is invited to remain for a brief Q&A following the lecture, and Edsel also will be on hand for a book signing immediately afterward at the TMA, located directly across the street from the auditorium at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. Tickets are $8 for TMA members, and $10 for non-members; reservations are requested by calling (903) 595-1001 .

“Is Art Worth a Life?” will expound upon the subject of Rescuing Da Vinci, detailing the author’s mission to preserve the legacy of the dedicated group who saved, recovered and returned countless artistic treasures in Europe following a period of Nazi plundering before and during the second World War.

“Not only is Robert Edsel a wonderfully fascinating person, but his passion and commitment to protecting the world’s cultural treasures is an inspiration,” TMA Head of Education Katie Powell said. “When we learned he would be available in early October, it was settled right then: We had to have him as our guest in this year’s Fall Lecture Series.”

A Dallas native who frequently earns the “Renaissance Man” label for his diverse array of professional and avocational interests, Edsel became immersed in the world of Italian art and became a serious collector of old masters after moving to Florence to restore an 1880 villa. A nationally ranked collegiate tennis player at Southern Methodist University who later turned pro, Edsel’s forays into entrepreneurship included development of Dallas’ Turtle Creek Boulevard and eventually the oil-and-gas industry, in which he is credited as a pioneer of horizontal drilling techniques. It was the latter that allowed him to sell his energy business in 1996 and move abroad (he has since returned to Dallas), which stoked his fascination with the theft, and subsequent efforts to recover, millions of works of art during World War II.

Edsel penned and self-published Rescuing Da Vinci after spending more than a decade and $3 million researching the little-known story of the Monuments Men, a multi-national group of close to 350 soldiers and art historians (primarily American and British) who risked their lives to preserve Western Europe’s cultural heritage among widespread bombing and Nazi looting. (This group included Richard Howard, a former director of the Dallas Museum of Art.) The story of the Monuments Men also is chronicled in The Rape of Europa, a 2007 documentary film co-produced by Edsel and narrated by Joan Allen which received a Writers Guild of America nomination for best documentary screenplay.

In 2007, Edsel established the nonprofit Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, to honor “the legacy of [their] unprecedented and heroic work” and raise public awareness “of the importance of protecting civilization’s most important artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict,” he said. That year, the Foundation received a National Humanities Medal, presented in a White House ceremony by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush to Edsel and four of the 12 living Monuments Men.

Edsel’s lecture has been generously underwritten “by a devoted Museum member who wishes to remain anonymous,” TMA Director Kimberley Bush Tomio said. The author and philanthropist also is scheduled to be on hand as a special guest during the TMA’s annual Little Black Dress Fall fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Museum. Tickets are available now at $100 for TMA members and $125 for non-members.

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