Robert Edsel is recognized today as one of the world’s foremost advocates for art preservation. 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 and Women, and share their remarkable stories with a global audience. His second book, The Monuments Men, has been translated into more than thirty languages.
After testing the waters as an aspiring professional tennis player, Robert Edsel shifted careers and built from the ground up a successful oil and gas exploration company that pioneered the use of horizontal drilling.
Seventeen years later, he sold the company to pursue his interest in art and architecture, a decision that lead to his discovery of the Monuments Men story.
Robert founded the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art to honor the remarkable legacy of these men and women. His work has resulted in numerous honors including the National Humanities Medal, the United States of America’s highest honor for work in the humanities, presented by the President of the United States at a White House ceremony.
Robert Edsel has written four books, published two others, co-produced the Emmy-nominated documentary film "The Rape of Europa", consulted with George Clooney on his film production, "The Monuments Men", based on his second book, and has served as the Executive Producer and on-air host of an acclaimed television series, "Hunting Nazi Treasure".
Robert travels frequently as a speaker introducing the story of the Monuments Men and Women through multi-media presentations to audiences throughout the United States and Western Europe as well as to men and women in uniform. He has served on various not-for-profit boards, including The National WWII Museum and St. Mark’s School of Texas.
The Monuments Men Foundation is a not-for-profit organization created to raise worldwide awareness about the service of the Monuments Men and Women and to honor them for their achievements.
In 2007, at a White House ceremony, President George Bush awarded the Foundation the National Humanities Medal, highest honor in the United States for work in the humanities.
In October 2015, after nine years of work, the Foundation fulfilled a major goal with the passage of a bill in Congress, quickly signed into law by President Barack Obama, awarding the Monuments Men and Women of all fourteen nations the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor in the United States of America. Throughout the years, Robert found and interviewed 21 Monuments Men and Women. Only three of them are living today.