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December 11th, 2012
07:47 AM ET

Have they found Mona Lisa? Art researcher searches to identify model's remains; Ben Wedeman follows the trail

Leonardo da Vinci's priceless masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, and her perplexing smile, has fascinated art lovers and historians for centuries. But who was she? One man in Italy is attempting to find out. CNN’s Ben Wedeman has the story.

“In the frigid bowels of what was once a convent in Florence, television producer-turned art researcher Silvano Vinceti is leading a project to find and identify the remains of the woman who posed for da Vinci more than five hundred years ago,” Wedeman says. “Historical records seem to indicate that this is the place where Lisa Gherardini, otherwise known as Mona Lisa, was buried. Beyond that, it's all a mystery.”

“The remains of five females here…will be compared with the DNA of two relatives buried elsewhere,” Wedeman reports. According to Vinceti, after they have been identified, “we can reconstruct the face, with a margin of error of two to eight percent,” Wedeman says. “By doing this we will finally be able to answer the question the art historians can't: Who was the model for Leonardo? The smile, on the other hand, will probably remain a mystery.”

September 5th, 2012
11:03 AM ET

Creative Coalition's Tim Daly: Defunding arts programs in America is 'bad business'

Creative Coalition president and Actor Tim Daly is in Charlotte, NC for the Democratic National Convention, one week after attending the Republican National Convention. He's working to improve the dialogue around funding arts programs in America, and he tells John Berman on "Early Start" that it's one of the most important investments the country could make.

"Entertainment is the second largest export of the United States of America," Daly says. "It's a huge driver of our economy. And I would like it to be spoken about by politicians on both sides for the same amount of gravitas and respect that we speak about the automobile industry or the pharmaceutical industry or the insurance industry. It's a huge part of who we are. And, you know, I would especially like the Democrats and someone like Kal Penn who owes everything he has to the arts to talk about the vibrancy and the importance of the arts in this country. You know, the Creative Coalition are big defenders of the national endowment for the arts."

Daly notes that some studies have shown that students who get a full education including a focus on the arts are more likely to graduate from high school. He also addresses GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's claim that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts if he were elected president.

"That is bad business, because every dollar spent by the federal government on the national endowment for the arts reaps them seven tax dollars in return. Now, those are odds you take to Vegas or Wall Street any day of the week. And if Mitt Romney knows anything about business, he would know that that is a good investment," he says.