Award-winning journalist Gerri Chanel will discuss her new book, Saving Mona Lisa: The Battle to Protect the Louvre and its Treasures During World War II, on Sunday, Oct. 12, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford. Saving Mona Lisa tells the story of the miraculous survival of priceless treasures, despite the greed of the Nazis and the complicit French Vichy government.
In 1939, days before France declared war against Germany, the Louvre staff conducted the largest museum evacuation in history in record time, and then managed to keep the art and antiquities out of the hands of Nazi occupiers. But while the publicly owned art of the Louvre was largely protected during the war, privately owned Jewish collections from galleries and homes were looted on a massive scale. Efforts to find owners of stolen Jewish treasures and return seized items to them continue to this day.
Chanel began her research for Saving Mona Lisa while living in France for five years. She combed through newly available archives and met with the few remaining living witnesses of the events she chronicles in her book.
Born and raised in Connecticut, Chanel was a resident of West Hartford for 16 years before moving to France. Today, she divides her time between Paris and New York, where she is an associate professor at York College of the City University of New York.
Chanel’s presentation is free and open to the public. Congregation Beth Israel is located at 701 Farmington Ave. For more information call (860) 233-8215.
To find out more about Chanel’s book visit www.savingmonalisa.net.