An old suitcase has yielded a mysterious item that may be relevant to the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II.
The suitcase was found among thousands of items at an unusual second-hand shop known as the Museum of Forgotten Things in Moscow. Everything from ancient pots to Soviet street signs can be found at this unusual museum, many of which are brought by locals and sold to the founder, Alexander Seregin.
"Some small treasure is found in almost every suitcase," says Seregin.
On the eve of Passover, while rummaging through a backlog of old suitcases, Seregin discovered a unique porcelain egg hidden in an old soldiers cup. What was unique about this particular egg was the monogram of Emperor Nicholas II.
It was very common for the tsar to distribute eggs as gifts to his soldiers during Easter, the holiest of all holidays celebrated by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Helen Vorushilina, of the Museum of Decorative and Applied Folk Art believes that the egg dates back to the early 20th century, and that it is one of thousands produced for distribution.
Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich Cigarette Case Topic: Antiques
A unique cigarette case depicting the Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich (1856-1929) has recently sold at an auction in Russia.
The cigarette case is made of gold and silver, 12.5 cm x 9 cm in size, and weighs 242 grams.
Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich was a grandson of Emperor Nicholas I. He served as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian army during the first year of World War I.
He and his wife, the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholayevna fled Russia in April 1919, on board the HMS Marlborough, along with the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and other members of the Russian Imperial family. He died on January 5, 1929 in the south of France.
Christie's and Sotheby's Russian Art Sales Topic: Antiques
Ivan the Terrible depicted on a silver-gilt enamel casket
Russian-art sales in New York, once boisterous affairs spread over some days and hawking everything from Tsarist silver to Soviet spacecraft, have shrunk.
This week, Christie’s International and Sothey’s have one auction each, focusing on the decorative arts, that may tally $11.7 million. Russian painting, a category which typically sees the biggest fireworks, is missing for the first time since at least 2006.
Christie’s estimates it will raise $2.9 million to $4.3 million from 176 lots today. Sotheby’s 376 lots are forecast to fetch $5.2 million to $7.4 million tomorrow.
There are many gems among the bronze horsemen, silver cups, porcelain plates and Faberge clocks. Here are the highlights.
Ivan the Terrible, white-bearded and hunched over in a carved wooden chair, solemnly regards his younger sixth wife sleeping on a bed nearby. The scene is enameled on the surface of a 5-inch-long (12.7 centimeter) box. The central image is surrounded by elaborate enameled patterns bursting with orange, purple and blue. The piece has a mark of Feodor Ruckert, a Faberge work master, and is estimated at $200,000 to $300,000.
A rectangular Faberge desk clock is elegant and chic, enameled in translucent lilac color. Its shimmering surface is adorned with entwining silver-gilt wreaths and drooping lily-of- the-valley blossoms. The clock was originally presented to Baron Marochetti, the Italian Ambassador in St. Petersburg between 1886 and 1900. A nearly identical clock was acquired by Queen Elizabeth II, according to Christie’s. The estimate: $150,000 to $250,000.
A diamond-set maid-of-honor brooch cypher, consisting of letters M and A beneath the imperial crown, may fetch $70,000 to $90,000. Designed by famed royal jeweler Hahn, it was presented to Countess Olga Alexandrovna Nieroth on Oct. 2, 1904. The letters are the initials of Nicholas II’s mother, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, and his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
An enamel cigar box made in 1912 depicts Napoleon Bonaparte in an overcoat and white suit standing by the burning walls of Moscow’s Kremlin. Floral patterns frame the central image, inspired by a painting from Vasili Vereshchagin’s “1812” series based on the French emperor’s failed Russian campaign. Estimate: $150,000 to $250,000.
A 4.5-inch gold cigarette case starring a four-carat diamond and red enamel geometrics was once given as a gift to a Cossack general by the “grateful” citizens of the Taganrog district he presided over. It was designed about 1900 by master jeweler Carl Blank and has an estimate range of $110,000 to $130,000.
A Faberge lamp, which had belonged to the late banker Edmond J. Safra and his wife Lily, is forecast to sell for $100,000 to $150,000. The lamp is adorned with silver-winged lions at the base and the baluster stem rises from acanthus leaves, a frequent motif of Corinthian columns.
An auction at Elite Decorative Arts in Boynton Beach, Florida, on 28th April will feature 400 lots, including rare Russian works.
The auction’s expected top lot is a late 19th century Russian red enameled medal from the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky by Albert Keibel (St. Petersburg). Constructed of 14K yellow gold with red enamel, the medal measures 3 1/4 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches wide, holds an “AK” mark under the enamel and has a total weight of 33 grams. It should gavel for $50,000-$75,000.
St Petersburg: City of Hidden Treasures Topic: Antiques
To this day, Russia’s former imperial capital St Petersburg is alive with rumours of untold treasures hidden by Russian aristocrats and business tycoons from the Bolsheviks following the 1917 revolution.
Dr Naum Sindalovsky is a local history expert: "A folk tale that the entire wealth of the Yeliseyev trading house remains hidden somewhere in the form of a giant gold chandelier has no foundation in fact. But other similar stories have. Back in the 1920s, the authorities discovered boxes with expensive tableware and paintings which had been bricked up in the walls of the Yusupov Palace. All the items from these boxes are now on display in museums".
The latest find, made this year in the 18th century palace of the Naryshkin family, consisted of 40 big bags filled with silver tableware, jewelry, gold and silver coins, order badges, medals and stacks of documents.
In 1917, only a Naryshkin widow and her children were living there.
Prominent St Pete lawyer Dr Yuri Novolodsky believes the treasure was actually hidden by someone else: "Some of the award documentation, medals and order badges in the bags belonged to a relative of the Naryshkins, First Lieutenant Sergey Somov. Together with other evidence, both material and documentary, these items point at him as the person who hid the treasure".
The find is worth at least $1.5mn, and although the Naryshkins are now extinct, a lot of people have already claimed the right to inherit it. Some are related to the Romanovs, who were distant relatives of the Naryshkins.
We have an opinion from Mr Ivan Artsishevksy, a spokesman for the Romanoff Family Association: "According to the Russian law, this treasure now belongs to the Russian nation. This means that discussing any personal ownership rights is pointless. Most of the foreign-based descendants of the Russian aristocracy agree that it is morally right to hand over the Naryshkin treasure to the Russian state".
After some renovation and restoration, the Naryshkin Palace will be housing an international centre for heritage preservation. Many argue that the Naryshkin treasure should go on permanent public display at this centre.
Tsarist-Era Treasures Found in 18th-Century St Petersburg Mansion Topic: Antiques
The treasure unearthed from a secret underground room in St Petersburg could belong to a Russian cavalry soldier, almost a century ago. Silver, jewels and medals are among the valuables discovered by chance during restoration works.
It’s believed the treasure belonged to a graduate of the Imperial Military Academy Sergey Somov, who fled Russia to France in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The Russian hussar hid a unique selection of porcelain in a tiny room at the Vasily Naryshkin House. Somov worked as head of a history museum in Paris, and died in 1976, aged 88.
Forty bags containing several thousand pieces of silverware have been uncovered, including spoons and classic Russian samovars. According to art historians the collection is unique.
Experts will spend several days cataloguing the treasure which has not been officially valued. Afterwards the collection will become part of one of St Petersburg’s museums.
Christie's Russian Works of Art Sale Features Tsarist Treasures Topic: Antiques
Christie's Russian works of art sale on Monday, April 16th features an extravagent selection of tsarist treasures, including Faberge and cloisonne enamel, porcelain and more.
A highlight from the Russian Imperial court is a jeweled gold maid of honor badge by the court jeweler Hahn (estimate: $70,000-90,000). The badge was presented in 1904 to Countess Olga Alexandrovna Nieroth (b. 1876), maid of honor to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, whose family had a distinguished record of military and civil service to the Russian empire.
Russian Icons Featured at Maastricht Art Fair Topic: Antiques
Russia presents a variety of icons, paintings, jewelry items, and antique porcelain and furniture at the European Fine Art Fair TEFAF in Maastricht.
The Russian pavilion abounds in exquisite pieces of art, including paintings by Konstantin and Vladimir Makovsky, animal figures made from semiprecious stones from Carl Faberge collections and choice porcelain from the Yusupov factory which was founded in Arkhangelskoye outside Moscow in 1814.
The Amsterdam-based company Toth features an impressive 700-item collection which consists of Russian icons and other masterpieces with the prices reaching dozens of thousands of euro.
Precious Antiques at Moscow Auction Now Playing: Language: English. Duration: 3 minutes, 37 seconds Topic: Antiques
Moscow has opened its doors to fine art lovers at the bi-annual Russian Antiques Salon. Some rarities on display may cost a six-figure salary, but it is still a popular place to hunt for a bargain or simply to browse.
For a few days only the Russian Antique Salon, located in Moscow’s Central House of Artists, displays unique examples of paintings and graphics, luxury jewelry and furniture. The organizers promise up to 20,000 items on display for real connoisseurs of antiques. There are 200 participants, mainly from Russian cities, as well as three foreign galleries – from London, Paris and Tallinn.
Some masterpieces are said to have been inaccessible to the public for a century, making the Russian Antique Salon a must-attend event for those who just want to explore antique art.
The Russian Antique Salon is held by the Expo-Park Exhibition Projects Company twice a year in spring and in autumn. It is the biggest and the longest-running event of its kind. The event is on till March 10.
18th-Century Medallion Returned to Russia Topic: Antiques
Stolen, smuggled, lost… and found! Austria has returned a valuable 18th-century porcelain medallion to Russia. The artefact was stolen in 1996 and for 16 years its location remained unknown, despite an investigation by Russian police.
The medallion’s market price is estimated at around $100,000. It was manufactured by the British company Wedgewood between the 1780s and 1790s and features the portrait of Russian Tsar Peter the Great. It was stolen from Moscow’s Ostankino Palace and Museum in 1996 before being smuggled abroad.
According to a report by the Russian police the medallion was discovered in the autumn of 2011, in Austria, when an unnamed non-Austrian citizen waltzed into the Dorotheum Auction House in Vienna and attempted to auction the piece.
Both Russian and Austrian police say that Austrian citizens have nothing to do with the theft or the attempt to sell the artefact.
The lot was taken out of the sale after Russia’s Culture Ministry issued a claim for the 18th-century treasure.
On February 13 the head of the Dorotheum Auction House, Lucas Tinzl, handed the medallion to Russia’s ambassador to Austria, Sergey Nechaev. The treasure will finally return to where it belongs.