Robert Edsel's Blog

Blog entries for the ‘Media’ Category

Daniel Craig Joins George Clooney’s Monuments Men; Dujardin, Murray, and Blanchett Confirmed to Co-Star

November 2nd, 2012 | 4:24 pm

George Clooney has lined up an incredible cast for his next film, Monuments Men. As we previously reported, the story centers on a group of art experts selected by the U.S. Government to chase down the stolen art of Europe during World War II. Aside from the terrific premise, Clooney, who co-wrote the film with partner Grant Heslov, will star alongside a cast that includes Daniel CraigJean Dujardin, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett. Dujardin, Murray, and Blanchett had previously been mentioned in connection with the film, and Craig is a strong addition along with other new cast members John Goodman, Bob Balaban, and Downton Abbey‘sHugh Bonneville.

According to Deadline, filming is set to begin on March 1st, and Alexandre Desplat will be handling the score. The rest of the crew from Argowill be on board as well, because this movie wasn’t sounding awesome enough.
Here’s the synopsis for the source material, Robert M. Edsel‘s non-fiction novel The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised.
In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives
scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture

Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis. [Amazon]

As reported by Matt Goldberg on Collider.com:http://collider.com/daniel-craig-george-clooney-monuments-men/206982/

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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.

Click Here to Read More

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Hallowed Be Their Name

June 6th, 2012 | 11:46 am

(George Clooney, Robert Edsel and Grant Heslov)

June 6 is the sixty-eighth anniversary of the D-Day landings that marked the beginning of the Western Allied invasion of German-occupied northwestern Europe. About 160,000 Allied soldiers came ashore that day, almost half Americans, many braving a hailstorm of bullets, artillery, and mines. The blood stained beaches of Normandy, France served as a testament of their heroism.  9,387 American men, many just teenagers, are buried at the American Cemetery located on the once German-held ridge above Omaha Beach where they fell.  Those that survived would carry the memory of their fallen comrades with them into Germany as they liberated the people of Europe – and those in the death camps – from the tyranny of Hitler and Nazism.

By July 4, the Allies had put ashore more than one million soldiers including a forty-six year-old art restorer named George Stout, the man who more than any other developed the idea that lead to the creation of the Monuments Men.  This handful of cultural preservation officers worked alongside troops to protect churches, museums and other historic structures from the destruction of war, in particular by Allied forces.  Soon their efforts would concentrate on locating some of the millions of cultural objects – paintings, sculpture, church bells, library books, and religious objects – stolen by the Nazis.  In the course of their journey two Monuments officers would be killed during combat.  Their mission would survive the war’s end by almost six years.  By 1951, the Monuments Men had returned more than five million stolen objects to the countries from which they’d been taken.

(Monuments Men Bernard Taper, James Reeds, Harry Ettlinger, and Horace Apgar remembered for their efforts for saving Europe's art during World War II at the Congressional Resolution Ceremony on June 6, 2007)

Today is the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, an organization I 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 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.  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, presented by the President of the United States at a ceremony in the White House.  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.

Many wonderful consequences that will further honor these heroes have since accrued.  My new book – Saving Italy – about the efforts of the Monuments Men in the cultural cradle of civilization, will be published next year.  Soon The National World War II Museum will construct a permanent exhibit about the Monuments Men as part of its Liberation Pavilion.  And work is underway by George Clooney and Grant Heslov on their film, based on my last book about the Monuments Men, which will reach a global audience.  These developments ensure that these heroes’ legacy will forever be known and honored.  Their service expands our understanding of the achievements of “The Greatest Generation.”  This day reminds all people who enjoy freedom, and the arts, of the debt we owe the men and women who struggled so mightily to defeat the greatest threat to civilization of the twentieth century.

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67th Anniversary of an Amazing Day in History: April 12,1945

April 12th, 2012 | 3:27 pm

Left to Right: Generals Bradley, Patton, and Eisenhower (Photo Courtesy of National Archives)

Having heard about the extraordinary discovery of most all of Nazi Germany’s gold reserves and paper currency, along with its vast cultural wealth from Berlin’s greatest museums and libraries, in a salt mine in Merkers, Germany, Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley left SHAEF headquarters in Rheims, France and made a several day visit to see it firsthand. As the Monuments Men, led by George Stout, were urgently crating the works of art for removal from the mine, the generals descended in a rickety elevator manned by a lone German operator.

Their sense of disconnection was palpable: billions of dollars (in today’s currency) of gold bars and bagged coins sat stacked in one chamber adjacent to some of the world’s greatest works of art. Chests filled with gold fillings pulled from the mouths of murdered victims of the Nazi genocide sat idle, not yet smelted into bars to sit atop the Reichsbank horde. Suitcases of silverware, another reminder of property stolen along with the lives of the owners, lined several walls.

General Eisenhower at Ohrdruf Concentration Camp (Photo Courtesy of National Archives)

Later that afternoon, the generals visited Ohrdruf, the first Nazi work camp liberated by American forces. Strewn before them were the corpses of the dead and emancipated figures of those near death. General Patton, old “Blood and Guts”, had to lean against the side of one of the bunkhouse sheds as he was sick to his stomach from the horrors and stench of what he was witnessing.

President Franklin Roosevelt attending Yalta Conference in February 1945, less than 2 months before he died. (Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

After dinner, as the generals returned to their respective tents, General Patton overheard on the BBC the announcement of President Roosevelt’s death earlier that day. At age 63, 12 years into his presidency, having led the nation through its most perilous fiscal crisis and a world war, Roosevelt was gone. He did not live to see the fruits of his leadership – victory – which would follow 26 days later in Europe, and 125 days later in Japan.

April 12: a day that had momentous implications for our nation, the world, and the Monuments Men.

 

(For a more detailed account of this story, please read The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History).

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National Archives and Monuments Men Foundation Announces Discovery of Hitler Albums Documenting Looted Art

March 27th, 2012 | 3:29 pm

Monuments Men Foundation Founder and President Robert Edsel and Archivist of the United States David Ferriero unveil the donation of two “Hitler Albums” to the National Archives at the Meadow Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX

To Learn More about this amazing discovery, please visit us at www.monumentsmenfoundation.org.

PRESS RELEASE

Today at a ceremony in Dallas, David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist and Robert M. Edsel, President of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art and author of The Monuments Men, announced the discovery of two original leather bound albums containing photographs of paintings and furniture looted by the Nazis. The Monuments Men Foundation will donate these albums, both of which have been in private hands since the end of World War II, to the National Archives.

These albums, created by the staff of a special task force, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, document the unprecedented and systematic looting of Europe by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. The ERR was the main Nazi agency engaged in the theft of cultural treasures in Nazi-occupied countries.

The Archivist hailed this discovery as “one of the most significant finds related to Hitler and the Nazi’s premeditated theft of art and other cultural treasures to be found since the Monuments Men Foundation’s previous discovery of Albums 6 and 8. It is exciting to know that original documents are shedding light on this important aspect of World War II. Documents such as these may play a role in helping to solve some of those mysteries and, more importantly, helping victims recover their treasures. The National Archives is grateful to Mr. Edsel and the Monuments Men Foundation for today’s donation of Albums 7 and 15, which will allow scholars and historians immediate use of these materials.”

“The Foundation often receives calls from veterans and their heirs, who don’t know the importance of items they may have picked up during their service, or aren’t aware that anyone is looking for the items,” Foundation President Robert M. Edsel stated. “These albums are just the tip of the iceberg for hundreds of thousands of cultural items still missing since World War II. The role of the Monuments Men in preserving cultural treasures during conflict was without precedent. We honor their legacy by completing their mission.”

In the closing days of World War II, U.S. soldiers entered Adolf Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps. Many picked up trinkets as souvenirs as proof that they had been inside. Cpl. Albert Lorenzetti and Private First Class Yerke Zane Larson each took one leather bound album. Neither man knew the significance of the albums, other than being a memento of their war service. Heirs to both men contacted the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, a not-for-profit organization that received the 2007 National Humanities Medal, after reading media stories about the Foundation’s work involving the restitution of other valuable World War II documents.

Yerke Zane Larson proudly served in the 501st Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division, “the Screaming Eagles.” His daughter Sandra Runde stated: “If my father was still living, I know he would be pleased to serve as an example for other veterans and their families of the importance of returning cultural treasures, just as the Monuments Men set the standard for protection of culture during armed conflict.” In the final days of the World War II, Larson picked up Album 15 as a souvenir while in Hitler’s home, known as the Berghof.

Cpl. Albert Lorenzetti, who served in the 989th Field Artillery Battalion, removed Album 7 from the Berghof the same week as Larson as proof he’d been in Hitler’s home. His niece, Jane Gonzalez, commented: “My uncle was from a generation that grew up making sacrifices and putting others before themselves,” said Ms. Gonzalez. “I believe that donating this album to the National Archives and thereby assuring its preservation and availability to the public honors his legacy and is a testament to his personal character and patriotism.”

As the ERR staff looted, photographed and catalogued the French collections, they created leather bound albums, including the two being donated today. Each page of the album contained a photograph of one stolen item. A letter representing the family from which the item was stolen and an inventory number is noted beneath each image; for example in Album 7, “R2951” would be the 2951st object stolen from the Rothschild family. The albums were specifically intended for Hitler in an effort to keep him apprised of the ERR’s progress in France. According to noted historian Dr. Birgit Schwarz, once Hitler received the first set of albums on his birthday in April 1943, he issued a directive that incorporated the confiscated items into “Special Commission Linz.” This organization oversaw building the collection for the Führermuseum, an unrealized museum complex Hitler planned to build in his hometown of Linz, Austria, as well as distribution of art to regional museums throughout the Reich. As the director, Hitler decided which items would be placed in certain museums.

ERR Albums 7 and 15 are significant discoveries. Album 7 includes images of sixty-nine paintings which represented very early thefts, some as early as 1940 and early inventory numbers such as EW4 (the fourth item stolen from Elizabeth Wildenstein). Images of two important paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard are featured in Album 7. Girl with Two Doves, or Mädchen mit zwei Taube,n (inventory code: R38) sold at auction in 2000 for over $5 million after having been properly repatriated by the Monuments Men in 1946. Album 7 also includesThe Dance Outdoors, or Tanz im Freien, (inventory code: R67) attributed to the painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, which was intended for Hitler’s Führermuseum. Although the majority of the paintings featured in Album 7 appear to have been properly restituted after the war, four paintings are listed on the ERR Database as not having been restituted. Album 15 contains photos of forty-one pieces of furniture, primarily from the Rothschild family. Three of those pieces, inventory codes R917, R943, and R944, were prominently featured in one of the exhibits staged at the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris for Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring to select items for his own collection.

In May 1945, thirty-nine original ERR albums were discovered at Neuschwanstein by the Monuments Men. They had been stored there by the Germans along with records that documented their confiscations and thousands of looted items. These albums were subsequently taken to the Munich Central Collecting Point where they were used by the Monuments Men to assist in the restitution process. In late 1945 these albums were used as evidence at the Nuremberg trials to document the massive Nazi art looting operations.

Today the National Archives has custody of the original thirty-nine albums, as well as two additional albums, 6 and 8, discovered by the Monuments Men Foundation and donated to the National Archives in 2007. Like Album 7, Albums 6 and 8 were picked up by a member of the 989th Field Artillery Battalion who was stationed in the Berchtesgaden area in the closing days of the war. Mr. Edsel stated about this occurrence: “I hope discoveries such as these will encourage other members of the 989th Battalion and their families, as well as all veterans, to look in their attics and basements for any lost wartime items as they may hold the clues to unravel this unsolved mystery.”

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George Clooney to Direct, Star in ‘Monuments Men’ About Stolen Nazi Art

January 9th, 2012 | 12:07 pm

EXCLUSIVE

George Clooney has started to work on his next project, writing, directing and starring in a big-budget movie about the men who chased down the stolen art of Europe during World War II, he told TheWrap on Saturday.

The Monuments Men,” which Clooney is co-writing with his producing partner Grant Heslov, will tell the story of a hand-picked group of art experts chosen by the U.S. government to retrieve artwork stolen by the Nazis.

“I’m excited about it,” Clooney told TheWrap at the Palm Springs Film Festival on Saturday. “It’s a fun movie because it could be big entertainment. It’s a big budget, you can’t do it small — it’s landing in Normandy.”

The movie will be based on the book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” by Robert M. Edsel.

Click Here to Read More: http://www.thewrap.com/movies/column-post/george-clooney-direct-star-monuments-men-about-stolen-nazi-art-exclusive-34177

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Was Kimbell Statue Hiding a Sordid History?

July 7th, 2011 | 11:22 am

Museum historian Nancy Edwards, left, and author Robert Edsel were both instrumental in determining the history of a bust of Isabella d’Este at the Kimbell Art Museum. The bust was found among articles collected by Adolf Hitler.  Star-Telegram / Ron T. Ennis

Robert Edsel, Nancy Edwards and the Kimbell Museum were instrumental in determining the provenance history behind a bust that is on display at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.  The article that appeared in the Fort Worth Star Telegram explains how Robert became aware that this bust was in a salt mine at Alt Aussee during and after World War II due to Adolf Hitler’s desire to own it and its incredible travels from auction houses in Europe and America and eventually settle in Fort Worth.

To read the full article as it appeared in the newspaper, click here: Fort Worth Star Telegram – Mystery Woman

To read the full article as it appears on their website, click here: DFW.com – Was Kimbell Statue Hiding a Sordid Sales History?

Please forward this article to all your family and friends.

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MONUMENTS MEN NEWSLETTER – EISENHOWER AUDIO RECORDING DISCOVERED

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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AUDIO OF EISENHOWER SPEECH AT MET FOUND

April 1st, 2011 | 10:18 am

General Eisenhower Talking at Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 2, 1946 about the importance of saving art and culture during World War II.

An amazing discovery of historical significance was recently found, an audio recording from April 2, 1946 that has General Eisenhower specifically talking about his decision to safeguard the world’s cultural treasures during World War II. Eisenhower gave this speech at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when he was honored with a life fellowship. His words reiterate both his actions during the war and America’s actions after the war in dealing with cultural items, both domestically and internationally. It is a unique occurrence to hear Eisenhower speak only on the topic of art.

The Associate Press wrote an article that explaining the finding and its significance that is running on Yahoo! News. Click the link to read the article.

You can listen to Eisenhower’s entire speech on the newly redesigned Monuments Men Foundation website, www.monumentsmenfoundation.org.

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D-Magazine Feature: The Nazi Treasure Hunter

February 24th, 2011 | 1:53 pm


The Nazi Treasure Hunter

D Magazine March 2011

There are those who believe that two of the world’s most high-profile missing artifacts are hidden somewhere in the Dallas area. It’s an intersting coincidence, given that the man leading the search for them and other cultural treasures lost since World War II happens to live right here.

D-Magazine – Robert Edsel is the Nazi Treasure Hunter – March 2011

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