Robert Edsel, a former nationally ranked American tennis player, began his business career in oil and gas exploration in 1981. His company, Gemini Exploration, pioneered the use of horizontal drilling technology throughout the early 1990s. By 1995, Gemini had become the second most active driller of horizontal wells in the United States.
While living in Florence, he developed a great passion for art and architecture and became curious as to how so many of the monuments and great works of art survived the thefts and devastation of World War II. What began as a question evolved into an impassioned journey to unravel the secrets and heroics of the Monuments Men, the unsung heroes who saved the world's greatest art and cultural treasures for the benefit of civilization.
Robert has dedicated the past decade to painstaking and far-reaching research about the Monuments Men, which culminated in the publication of his book Rescuing Da Vinci, a detailed historical account which includes 460 photographs.
He is also the co-producer of the 2007 documentary film, The Rape of Europa which was broadcast on PBS in 2008 and subsequently received two Emmy nominations.
In 2009, Robert Edsel's second book, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, a narrative telling of the story of the Monuments Men, was published In January 2012 George Clooney announced he would write, direct and star in the film version of The Monuments Men, with a star-studded cast including Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett and Bill Murray.
Robert Edsel's third book, Saving Italy (May 2013), follows two Monuments Men as they struggle to protect and save some of the world's greatest treasures located in Italy, including works by Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Edsel is the Founder and President of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, a not-for-profit organisation which was one of ten recipients of the 2007 National Humanities Medal, the highest honor given by the United States for excellence in the Humanities field.
He is a dynamic speaker and has regularly lectured at prominent institutions including the Eisenhower Institute, the National Archives, the National Gallery of Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, National World War II Museum and Yale University. In 2008, he received the President's Call to Service Award and the Hope for Humanity Award from the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. In 2009, Edsel became a member of the Advisory Board for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.
In 2010, Robert Edsel became a trustee of The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA, and serves on the Executive Committee.