Monuments Men Foundation to close due to lack of funds

Robert Edsel

DALLAS (AP) — A foundation to honor the Monuments Men treasure hunters who saved 5 million works of art during World War II says it is closing due to a lack of funds.

Robert Edsel established the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art in 2007. Edsel is a Dallas-based author who wrote “The Monuments Men,” which was made into a 2014 movie starring George Clooney.

He told The Dallas Morning News ( ) on Tuesday that the foundation will stop operating at the end of October. Sharing the WWII unit’s stories has cost the foundation more than $7 million over 10 years. However the team has only raised $3.5 million in funds. Edsel, who made his money in oil and gas, paid the rest.

The foundation’s seven-person team will stop operating at the end of the month, but Edsel will pay for two researchers to finish writing the short biographies the foundation publishes online.

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“Our commitment was to make sure they were honored, make sure their legacy was preserved, and that the world knew not only what they’ve done but also what was possible, in regards to the protection of cultural treasures,” Edsel said. “We’ve certainly done that.”

The 345 treasure hunters will be honored with a Congressional Gold Medal Thursday in Washington, D.C. The award is Congress’ highest honor of appreciation for distinguished achievement.

Four of the surviving members will attend the ceremony. Harry Ettlinger, a member of the Monuments Men whose Jewish family fled Germany in 1938, will speak to more than 200 relatives of the Monuments Men at the ceremony.

Edsel began pushing for congressional recognition after meeting Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, in 2007. Granger sponsored the legislation to honor the group.

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“The Monuments Men will now forever be honored and recognized,” Granger said in a written statement. “What started out as one of the greatest untold stories from World War II has become a celebrated chapter in our nation’s history,”