Robert Samuel was born in Düsseldorf in 1871 and was the son of a merchant family who in the middle of the 19th century moved from Heidelberg to Düsseldorf and was successful in the tobacco trade. Following the footsteps of his father, he began working in the tobacco shop of his uncle in Düsseldorf and in 1900 moved with it to the building Königsallee 14 / Blumenstraße 3, which then belonged to the city of Dusseldorf. Later, he bought the property and in 1911 built the office and commercial building, which had already been named as Hohenzollernhaus.
His business meanwhile grew to become a renowned Havana tobacco import and sales business. He supplied, among others, the Württemberg Royal Court. In 1920 he married Hedwig Göldner, who until then had worked as his secretary. In 1926 he retired and went on a world trip with his wife. In 1927 he founded by will the Hedwig and Robert Samuel Foundation with the Hohenzollernhaus as founding capital. Robert Samuel died in Düsseldorf in 1931 as a result of a heart attack.
Hedwig Samuel was born in 1893 in what is known today as Wuppertal-Barmen. After her apprenticeship in Essen, she took a job in the office of Robert Samuel in Düsseldorf. In 1920 she married Robert Samuel. After his death, she moved to Mariánské Lázně in Czechoslovakia, where she had spent a lot of time in spas together with Robert Samuel. There she married the medical doctor Theo Olbert in 1934. In 1951, she moved back to Düsseldorf together with him. Theo Olbert died in 1968. Hedwig Samuel had no official position in the Hedwig and Robert Samuel Foundation, founded in 1932, but as a co-founder she decided de facto during her lifetime to determine the decisions of the board which only made administrative decisions including replacing vacant positions. Until her death in April 1976, she also benefited from the usufruct of the income from the Foundation.
With the founding of the Foundation of the same name, Hedwig and Robert Samuel followed a Düsseldorf tradition of the turn of the century whereby many prosperous citizens dedicated part of their assets to beneficial purposes.