Robert Edsel's Blog

Blog entries for the ‘Laurel Publishing’ Category

Departed Hero: Monuments Man James A. Reeds

October 12th, 2012 | 3:35 pm


(James Reeds, second from the left and standing up, and the Monuments Men being honored at the Congressional Resolution Ceremony on June 6, 2007)

Monuments Man Jim Reeds has passed away at the age of 91. Reeds began his service with the Monuments Fine Arts and Archives in France under the direction of Monuments officers Lt. Comdr. George Stout and Maj. Bancel LaFarge. He was one of the earliest members of the MFAA. Following the Allied victory, Reeds was stationed at Wiesbaden, Germany and at U.S. Forces European Theater Headquarters in Frankfurt-Hoechst. As chief clerk for the office, Sergeant Reeds responded to incoming messages regarding works of art that had been discovered in the field. After his discharge from the U.S. Army, he then accepted a position as a medical supply officer for Allied Military Government working as a civilian.

Prior to his military service, Reeds was a pre-medical student at the University of Iowa. His knowledge of the German language placed him in the Army Specialized Training Program as an interpreter. He resumed his college education upon returning home from Germany. In 1947 he graduated with a B.A. in German. He received his M.A. in German in 1949, and later his M.A. in linguistics and a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Michigan, in 1959 and 1966, respectively.

From 1952 to 1958, Reeds taught at Penn State, and spent the 1956-57 school year as a Fulbright teacher in Detmold, Germany. He worked at the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit while studying for his Ph.D. From 1966 to 1969 he taught as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. Reeds began his long career at the University of Missouri –Kansas City in 1969, and was named associate professor emeritus upon his retirement in 1990. He traveled to Poland in 1984 to teach as a Fulbright Professor at the University of Lodz. Reeds later moved to Kansas City,Missouri with his wife Hedy, whom he met while serving in the MFAA.

(James Reeds,  second from the left, Robert Edsel, the Monuments Men and President George W. Bush at the 2007 National Humanities Medal Ceremony at the White House)

On June 6, 2007, the 63rd anniversary of D-Day, Jim was one of four Monuments Men who attended the ceremony at the United States Senate to celebrate the unanimous passage of Resolutions by both Houses of Congress that for the first time honored the service of the Monuments Men. Later that year, Jim and three other Monuments Men returned to Washington on the occasion of the Monuments Men Foundation’s receipt of the National Humanities Medal from President Bush. Prior to the medal presentation, the Sergeant-at-Arms read aloud the citation: “For sustained efforts to recognize the contributions of the scholar-soldiers of the Second World War. Our civilization is forever indebted to a handful of men and women who, in an era of total war, rescued and preserved a precious portion of the world’s heritage.”

Seeing Jim and the other Monuments Men receive these long overdue tributes filled everyone in attendance with joy. A long held dream was realized. I will always treasure the memories of those days, especially the opportunity to befriend Jim and his lovely wife, Hedy.

With the passing of James Reeds, there are now just seven living Monuments officers.


The Monuments Men Foundation Celebrates Five Years Honoring the Heroes

June 29th, 2012 | 12:13 pm

George Clooney, Robert Edsel, and Grant Heslov

This summer marks the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, an organization founded to preserve the historic legacy of the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section during World War II. The announcement of this organization took place on June 6, 2007, the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day landings, at the United States Senate on the occasion of Resolutions unanimously passed by both Houses of Congress that for the first time honored the service of these heroes of civilization: the Monuments Men. Four Monuments officers joined us for that special occasion and represented the other 345 officers of thirteen nations who served this great cause.

Since that time, the Foundation has been honored in numerous ways including its receipt of the National Humanities Medal, our nation’s highest honor for work in the humanities field, presented by the President of the United States during a ceremony at the White House.  The small staff of the Monuments Men Foundation has worked tirelessly to identify those who served as Monuments officers; facilitating the recovery and restitution of important cultural items; working with museums and collectors to help them continue historical research of items in their collections; creating an educational program to teach about the work of the Monuments Men; and sharing this story to help raise public awareness about their important contributions during World War II. The publishing of my two books on the Monuments Men – Rescuing Da Vinci, and The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History – have reached readers in more than eighteen languages.

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Monuments Men Newsletter – Bust of Isabella D’Este at the Kimbell Art Museum

October 26th, 2011 | 11:45 am

The Bust of Isabella d'Este in the saltmine of Altaussee, Austria in May 1945.

The latest edition of the Monuments Men Newsletter was published. The 24th edition includes the inside story of the Monuments Men Foundation’s role with the Kimbell Museum restitution the Bust of Isabella D’Este, what Robert Edsel has been doing this summer, the fitting tribute to the recently departed Colonel Seymour J. Pomrenze,  and the rescheduling of the “In the Footsteps of the Monuments Men” European Tour. Please click on the link to read the newsletter and forward to all your family and friends.

Just in case you may not know, we are on Twitter (!/RobertEdsel) and Facebook (

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April 27th, 2011 | 11:25 am

General Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, departing the Met.
(photo courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries.)

The Monuments Men Foundation is proud to announce the discovery of an audio recording of General Eisenhower speaking about the importance of art and its protection during war.

The speech was delivered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on April 2, 1946 at an event in which General Eisenhower was presented with an Honorary Life Fellowship from the museum with a citation that read:

“To Dwight D. Eisenhower, soldier, diplomat and statesman, through whose irreplaceable art treasures were saved for future generations.”

Award recipients with Texas Governor Rick Perry, including Bill Paxton,
Bob Schieffer, Barbara Smith Conrad and ZZ Top.

Other articles in this newsletter: the announcement of a new book coming out in Spring of 2013, Remembering Maria Altmann, and Robert Edsel presented with Texas Medal of Arts.

Click On the Link to Read The Monuments Men Newsletter

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June 25th, 2010 | 2:12 pm

Tomorrow marks the passing of a truly remarkable man and a key figure for the Monuments Men, Monuments Officer Charles Parkhurst. His contribution to the Monuments Men and to the cultural heritage to America cannot be measured. Below is the blog we posted the day of his death in 2008 and here is a link to his biography on the website.

Lieutenant Charles Parkhurst, 1913-2008. Photo Courtesy of Charles Parkhurst Collection.

One of the greats, Charles Parkhurst, has died. He was 95 years of age.  Charles had an incredibly distinguished career as a museum director, curator, and art historian which spanned more than 50 years.  During those years he worked at the National Gallery of Art, The Baltimore Museum of Art, the Albright-Knox AA Gallery in Buffalo, and the Princeton University Art Museum, among others.  He was also an outstanding educator of art with teaching positions at Oberlin College and Williams College.

But we will forever remember and honor Chuck for his service not just to our nation as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War ll, but his critically important work as a Monuments Officer.  Beginning in May 1945 Parkhurst served as the Deputy Chief of the Seventh Army MFAA section of the U.S. Military Government in Germany. He helped coordinate the numerous tasks of the Monuments Men in post-war Germany centered on restitutions of the hundreds of thousand of stolen works of art and other cultural belongings stolen by Hitler and the Nazis and located by the Monuments Men.

But Charles Parkhurst’s service was much greater. In addition to standing with his fellow Monuments Men on the principle that no works of art should be removed from Germany,  in the face of great controversy, he also played a key role in jump-starting cultural life in Germany after the war by creating exhibitions which allowed local citizens to see works of art even though German museums were closed due to damage during the war.

For his wartime efforts as a Monuments Officer, Charles was named a Chevalier, Legion of Honor by France.

Photo taken on my visit with Charles Parkhurst in 2006. Photo Courtesy of Robert M. Edsel Collection.

Charles was so fortunate to have a magnificent lady and art scholar in her own right, for his wife, Carol, and a wonderful family.  It was one of the personal highlights of my work these past 7 years having the opportunity to meet Chuck and Carol two years ago at their charming home in Amherst.  Knowing he was ill, and of course the age of all the Monuments Men and women, underscored the sense of urgency to our effort to seek Senate and the House of Representatives support for our Resolution honoring the men and women of the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives section.

We will miss Charles Parkhurst, and all he stood for in the education, appreciation and protection of art and culture, enormously.  Our condolences go out to his family and numerous close friends.

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May 14th, 2010 | 11:15 am

Since its founding almost 3 years ago the Monuments Men Foundation has been working to encourage museums and collectors alike to comply with best practices guidelines. Simply stated, that means “know your collection” and where the objects were during the reign of the Nazis:  1933-1946.  Many museums, and some collectors, have embraced these guidelines. Some have been slow to catch up. A few continue to ignore the matter.

Belo’s Dallas station, WFAA, an ABC affiliate, broadcast a piece last evening highlighting a recent case we discovered several years ago at SMU’s Meadows Museum in conjunction with research on my first book, Rescuing Da Vinci.  Officials at the Meadows are now aggressively engaged conducting key provenance research on their collection as a whole and the two paintings covered by the story in particular, to their credit.

This case highlights one aspect of the work of the Foundation and the tangible results we continue to obtain while trying to work with important institutions like the Meadows Museum.

You can view the story by clicking on the following link:

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Monuments Men Newsletter for May 2010, 21st Edition

May 12th, 2010 | 11:38 am

This month’s Monuments Men Newsletter focuses on the efforts of Dwight D. Eisenhower regarding his victory in Europe and protecting cultural property. We also highlight the role of Germany in this last chapter of World War II. Please click on the link to read the newsletter.

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April 8th, 2010 | 3:27 pm

Mary Regan Quessenberry 1915 - 2010 (Photo Courtesy of Robert M. Edsel Collection)

Monuments officer and U.S. Army veteran Mary Regan Quessenberry, died today, age 94. Mary was the sole living connection to the beginning of the Monuments Men efforts and the key people whose vision led to their creation.  From Langdon Warner, the great scholar of Asian art and swashbuckling explorer, to Paul Sachs, the founder of the first museum studies course in America, to Mason Hammond, legendary professor of Classics at Harvard: Mary knew them all.  We were so fortunate to find her and film her memories and stories while she was in good health.

Mary Regan Quessenberry and Robert Edsel (Photo Courtesy of Robert M. Edsel Collection)

Robert M. Edsel, Founder and President of the Monuments Men Foundation, presenting Mary Regan Quessenberry with the Flag of the United States that flew over the Capitol on June 6, 2007. (Photo Courtesy of Robert M. Edsel Collection)

Mary Regan Quessenberry played an important role in the post-war work of the Monuments Men,  a remarkable but small group of 345 men and women from thirteen nations, many of whom were museum directors, curators, artists and architects, who together worked to protect monuments and other cultural items from the destruction of World War II. In the last year of the war they tracked, located and ultimately returned more than five million artistic and cultural treasures stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. Mary assisted with the Monuments Men efforts to return millions of works of art to the countries from which these treasures had been stolen.

Born in Boston on October 10, 1915, Mary Regan attended Radcliffe College and later received a master’s degree in Fine Art from Harvard, where her professors included Monuments Men Paul Sachs, Langdon Warner, and Mason Hammond, all key figures in my new book, The Monuments Men. The United States entered World War II in December 1941. By July 1942 Mary had given up her job as a high school art teacher and was in uniform serving with the WAAC (Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps). Over 400,000 women applied to be part of the first group of women to serve in the US military; only 450 were chosen. She would later become a recruiter for WAC (Women’s Army Corps), where one of the highlights was meeting the Churchill family when they visited Boston. Mary was sent overseas in 1943. Prior to becoming a Monuments officer, she trained with the U.S. Army 8th Air Force under General Doolittle; she was also sent to the Royal Air Force base at Medmenham as part of the Central Interpretation Unit and later, Mary received orders to report to General Carl Spaatz. At that time he commanded the 8th, 9th, and 15th Army Air Corps and led the strategic bombing campaign against Germany reporting directly to General Eisenhower. Mary became “company commander of the 550 WACs who ran Spaatz Headquarters.” For her service as company commander, Mary received a Bronze Star.

L to R: Mary Regan Quessenberry, Mary Churchill and Unknown (Photo Courtesy of NARA)

Following the Allied victory, Mary read in Stars and Stripes that officers with an art history background were needed as Monuments Men. Despite having more than enough points to return home, Mary traveled to Berlin to volunteer for service with the Monuments Men. As a Monuments officer stationed in Berlin, Mary traveled to the Munich Collecting Point, Wiesbaden Collecting Point, various repositories, and badly damaged cities. She worked with fellow Monuments Men Bancel LaFarge, Rose Valland, Charles Kuhn, Calvin Hathaway and others to restitute stolen works of art to their rightful owners. She served as a Monuments officer until 1948, when she retired as a Major after an extraordinary and accomplished military career.

Mary returned home to the United States and taught humanities at the University of Florida, and married her husband Tim Quessenberry in 1965, who preceded her. We shall miss her greatly.



January 5th, 2010 | 4:41 pm


Today, The Monuments Men Year-End Newsletter for 2009 was released to the general public. Inside this newsletter, you can read about the various creative content we have produce, our ongoing engagement with the public through the media to bring much need attention to the Monuments Men, the various honors bestowed upon the Monuments Men Foundation, and all the incredible memories bringing this story to life.  Many thanks to all that have worked on this project through the years.

Please take a minute to read the The Monuments Men Year-End Newsletter.

If you would like to sign up for future newsletters, please click here (fill out form on the right side to submit).

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December 25th, 2009 | 9:00 am

Merry Christmas to all! Below is the Christmas menu that the 3rd army enjoyed in France in 1944, 65 years ago. We hope that everyone enjoys this holiday season and we look forward to continue the work of the Monuments Men in 2010.



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