Robert Edsel's Blog

Blog entries for the ‘Robert Edsel’ Category

Monuments Man Lennox Tierney passes away at age 101

June 18th, 2015 | 12:05 pm

Monuments Man Lennox Tierney has died, age 101. Only five Monuments officers are still living.  Of the twenty Monuments Men and women I have interviewed, only Tierney and Sherman Lee had served in the Pacific Theater, primarily in Japan. Fluent in Japanese, and a greater scholar of Asian art, Tierney was assigned to General MacArthur’s occupation headquarters as Commissioner of Arts and Monuments following the end of the war. In this role, he advised General MacArthur on all topics regarding arts, monuments, and culture, in particular the restoration of damaged cultural sites. He also photographed cultural sites, compiled reports, and served as translator to General MacArthur and his staff as needed. Tierney often worked independently at Occupation Headquarters liasing directly with other Monuments Men including Langdon Warner, Laurence Sickman, and of course Sherman Lee. He served in this position until 1952, but remained in Japan thereafter to continue his study of Japanese arts.

Lennox had a very long and distinguished career as a teacher sharing his lifelong knowledge and love of Japan and its cultural history with others.  When we met last year in Salt Lake City, Lennox—at 101 years of age—was in the late stage planning for another trip to Japan accompanying another of the many groups interested in learning more about this fascinating culture.  I marveled at his energy, drive, and enthusiasm.

Robert Edsel presents Lennox Tierney with an American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol

 

With the passing of Lennox Tierney the world loses another remarkable member of the “Greatest Generation,” whose sense of shared sacrifice helped build the world we enjoy today.  Japan’s cultural heritage is richer because of Lennox Tierney; so too is the United States for introducing so many Americans to that country’s great treasures.  He will be missed!

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Eight Years Honoring the Heroes!

June 6th, 2015 | 10:57 am

Eight years ago, on the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day landings, I announced the formation of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art.  Four Monuments Men participated in that ceremony.  Today only one of those four is still with us bringing the number of living Monuments Men and women to just six.  We always knew we were in a race against time to gather their stories and honor them.  What I couldn’t know at the time was the degree of success the Foundation would have in achieving its objective to raise worldwide awareness of theses heroes and honor them for their achievements.  One feature film, and two more books, would introduce their legacy to a global audience.  Through the advocacy of the Foundation they would receive honors from two different presidents and the members of Congress.  Soon they will receive the Congressional Gold Medal, our nation’s highest civilian honor.

Bruges Madonna

In front of Michelangelo's Bruges Madonna, June 2015

As I walk the streets of Bruges, Belgium on a day when we remember the enormity of the sacrifice of young men who fought their way onto the bloodied beachheads of Normandy, and the courage of their leaders—in particular General Eisenhower, who made that fateful decision to “GO,” I give thanks also for the handful of Monuments Men and women who selflessly volunteered for military service to help preserve so much of the cultural world we enjoy today.  The world we have inherited is profoundly richer for the great objects of beauty they helped saved, none more so than Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna which I visited this morning.

The Monuments Men Foundation team has accomplished much, but as the daily destruction and theft of cultural treasures in Syria, Iraq, and now Yemen remind us, much remains to be done.  Please join the Monuments Men Foundation and learn how you can help us reestablish the respect for the cultural treasures of others that defined the work of these scholar-soldiers.

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Good morning! Buongiorno! Guten Morgen! Bonjour!

January 14th, 2015 | 10:16 am

Good morning! Buongiorno! Guten Morgen! Bonjour!

I am proud to share with you that our Monuments Men Foundation website is finally available in four languages: English, Italian, German and French.

 

I hope that this will allow more people around the world to understand the heroic work of the Monuments Men during and after World War II as well as to embrace and support the mission of the Monuments Men Foundation. For the time being, some pages still remain available only in English, but I am confident that with time and with your generous support, we will be able to complete also those translations.

 

I would like to extend my special gratitude to François-Xavier Bernard  for volunteering his time to complete the French translation. Passionate of World War I and history in general (@ww1photographs), Francois-Xavier gave us his expert, generous and enthusiastic support and we are extremely grateful for it. We welcome your help and support at any time!

 

 

 

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Support the restoration of the Canonica di Belforte!

November 13th, 2014 | 2:18 pm

Dear Friends,

Help me support the restoration of the Canonica di Belforte in Italy! We have only until the end of November to show our support. The Canonica di Belforte is in urgent need of restoration.

If you’ve read my last book Saving Italy then you will remember the “Flying Priest” Don Guido Anelli. The Canonica di Belforte is the building in which Don Anelli used to meet and supervise the other partisan fighters, those brave Italian patriots who risked and lost their lives during the dark days of 1943-1945.

Don Guido Anelli, far right, shortly before Christmas 1944. (Sergio Giliotti Collection)

“What are we without our history? Preservation of the Canonica di Belforte presents us with an opportunity to not only restore an important building of the Middle Ages, one that still possesses its original roof of stones, but preserve the meeting place of partisan fighters and their leader, Don Guido Anelli, who played a critical role in contributing to the defeat of German forces in Italy during World War II.  This important building gave birth—and was a place of refuge—for those brave Italian patriots who risked and lost their lives during the dark days of 1943-1945.  Its preservation will serve as a reminder for us all that freedom is not free.”

Please, show your support to our friends of Circolo Belforte and vote for the restoration of the Canonica di Belforte. Your vote will give the Canonica a chance to win a restoration project sponsored by FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano (the Italian National Trust).

Just click HERE and vote away!

Unfortunately the wesbite is only in Italian, so here are some easy steps to guide you through your vote:

-       Click on the green button on the right, where it says “VOTA” with a thumb up
-       This will take you to a registration page and you can choose whether to log in through your Facebook account (easy) or to create a new account
-       To create a new account, click on the orange button on the left and enter your information as requested (Name, Lastname, Postal Code, Email address, Username, Password and Retype Password). Make you sure you also select the box confirming that you’ve read terms&conditions.
-       Click the green button that reads “REGISTRATI” and that’s it!

-       A confirmation email will be sent to your inbox. Make sure you click on the orange button “CONVALIDA IL VOTO”  wihtin the email body to confirm your registration and then log on back to the website and vote!
-       Enter your newly created username and password by clicking on the green button in the top right corner of the website that reads “ACCEDI”

The small town of Belforte in Parma (Italy) and I thank you for your important support!

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The Field Report: Week of June 20, 2014

January 13th, 2014 | 7:00 pm

Here are few topics that prompted discussion in the office this past week:

1.) Infrared imagery shows Picasso’s The Blue Room hides a secret painting (The Guardian)

2.) The ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh are on the long list of things being affected by the terror group ISIS (Liberty Voice)

3.) Happy Birthday Mona Lisa! You don’t look a day over 500. (The Huffington Post)

4.) An 89-year-old retiree and former Nazi guard has been arrested for what he says was an ‘involuntary’ post at Auschwitz (New York Times)

5.) Eccentric heiress Huguette Clark’s untouched treasures head for the auction block (NPR)

6.) The Baptistery of San Giovanni may show up on this week’s “Best Dressed List” thanks to world-renowned designer Emilio Pucci (Luxury Daily)

*…and a few things you may have missed:

7.) Take a look at the paintings behind one of the most iconic Monuments Men photographs, which can also be seen on the cover of Robert M. Edsel’s The Monuments Men.

8.) This great photo of the Monuments Men in action! LIFE’s William Vandivert in the spring 1945, shows American soldiers loading recovered paintings and sculptures — reportedly stolen by Hermann Goering himself — into the back of a truck, in hopes that they might be returned to their rightful owners. (TIME)

9.) The Italian Club of Dallas, Texas will host a presentation on the Monuments Men next Monday, June 23, 2014. Special guests include the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art‘s Director of Development Ashley Bennett Jones and Senior Researcher Elizabeth Hudson. Event details can be seen here and tickets may be purchased here.

View last week’s Field Report here!

 

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Saving Italy!

April 15th, 2013 | 9:26 am

Saving Italy will be published on May 6th but we are giving away signed copies of the book this week before you can buy it. Follow Robert Edsel on Facebook and Twitter for your chance to win!

 

 

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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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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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It’s Over Over Here!

May 8th, 2012 | 9:50 am

Today marks the 67th anniversary of the announcement formally ending World War II in Europe, the most destructive war in history. With the announcement came the end of the Third Reich and the rule of Adolf Hitler. May 8 forever became known as “V-E Day”: Victory in Europe.

As we mark this anniversary, we have the opportunity afforded us by the passage of time to consider how different our world would be had it not been for  the historic orders issued by General Eisenhower which established, clearly and succinctly, the policy of the western Allies concerning the protection of cultural treasures during combat.  This was the first time an army attempted to fight a war while mitigating damage to monuments and other artistic treasures.

On December 29, 1943 during combat operations in Italy, and again prior to the D-Day landings in Normandy, General Eisenhower issued historic orders that stated, “We are bound to respect those monuments so far as war allows.” The primary instruments of that policy were a small group of men and women of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, known as “Monuments Men”—museum directors, curators, artists, architects and librarians who volunteered for service to protect monuments from damage, and effect temporary repairs.  These “scholar soldiers” changed our world by preserving it.  Imagine: most every museum in Europe emptied of its contents, closed for almost six years. It was the greatest upheaval of cultural treasures in history! Near war’s end, the Monuments Men located millions of stolen paintings, books, tapestries, and other artistic treasures which had been hidden in salt mines, caves, castles and other Nazi hideouts.  By 1951, the Monuments Men had returned more than five million objects to the countries from which they had been stolen. In a break with thousands of years of history and with conquerors past, the policy of the western Allies was clear: “To the victors do NOT belong the spoils of war.”

We continue to live with the altered legacy of Hitler and the Nazis. Sixty million lives lost; destruction on a scale unknown to man before or since; irreplaceable parts of the civilization of our planet lost forever. But right and goodness prevailed; much of civilization did survive, all at an enormous cost. We honor the sacrifices of others by learning from these experiences and not repeating their mistakes. We honor them by remembering. I think of my father today, a World War II veteran of the Pacific, who died four years ago. Thank you to my Dad, and to the men and women who served alongside of him for saving our world.

(Generals of the German High Command signing the formal surrender documents which ended the war in Europe on May 7, 1945. From left to right: Major General Wilhelm Oxenius, an aide to General Jodl; Colonel General Gustav Jodl, Chief of Staff of the German Army; and General Admiral Hans Georg von Friedeburg, Commander in Chief of the German Navy)

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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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