We've mentioned Leonardo DiCaprio's penchant for encouraging people to donate to charitable causes before on MNN, but this is the first time we've seen him raise some serious cash for the arts. 


The 36-year-old took a day away from "The Great Gatsby" in Australia to catch a plane and co-chair an inaugural fundraiser in support of movies at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art or LACMA. The event brought out some serious Hollywood heavy-hitters, including Clint Eastwood, Kate Hudson, Ron Howard, Olivia Wilde, Jane Fonda and Harvey Weinstein. All told, the Art+Film Gala (which featured tables starting at $50,000 each!) raised an impressive $3 million. 


"As a native of Los Angeles, I want to personally thank everyone associated with LACMA," The Hollywood Reporter quoted DiCaprio in his remarks. "Your commitment to serve the public through conservation, exhibitions and your interpretation of significant works of art continues to have a valuable impact on our community here in Los Angeles.”


In partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, LACMA intends to use the cash to help fund its ambitious plans to open a movie museum in as soon as three years.


"If you think about the worlds of art and film, there are more artists here now than anywhere else in the history of civilization," LACMA Art Director Michael Govan said. "We intend to recognize motion pictures as one of the greatest art forms not only of our time but of all time."


To kick off what's expected to be an annual event, organizers honored Clint Eastwood (whose film "J. Edgar" hits theaters this Wednesday) and artist John Baldessari. DiCaprio, who plays the lead character in the Hoover biopic, presented the director the award. "The moment you hear you get to work with Clint Eastwood, you feel you need to rise to the occasion," he said.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

DiCaprio helps raise $3M for the arts
Actor takes time away from filming 'The Great Gatsby' to raise money for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.