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Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Counterfeits Flood Russian Antiques Market
Topic: Antiques
Buyer beware! After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Western market was flooded with forgeries of the 1896 Coronation Cup (photo) or Khodynka Cup of Sorrows. Highly sought after by collectors, many buyers pay huge sums to own one of these historic cups. It is just one of many items counterfeited by unscrupulous dealers.
At least half of the items in circulation on Russia's antiques market are counterfeits, which cost scammed collectors millions of rubles every year, according to antiques experts and law enforcement agencies.

Dishonest dealers and a lack of quality experts are the core of the problem, and solving it will have to go hand-in-hand with a change in mentality among merchants and buyers, experts said.

It is hard to track whether the number of fakes is growing or increasing every year because people still have a negative attitude toward the police and hesitant to report any incidents, said Lieutenant Colonel Alexei Kistochkin whose beat is the antiques market, which is estimated to be worth about $200 million in annual sales.

One thing is sure, he added: There are a lot of fakes in every antiques segment.

"Though all of Europe is buying and selling them, there were not that many [Ivan] Aivazovsky paintings ever made," Kistochkin said. "Even if the master's students were involved, their hands would have shriveled up if they tried to draw so many paintings."

About 2 million people in Russia collect antiques in some way, according to estimates by the Eastern European Antique House.

While the popularity of collecting has grown, experts said there was still no system for controlling counterfeits or punishing those responsible for making them.

Most antique dealers have a short sighted buy-and-sell mentality that shows no respect for the items or their clients, said Sergei Yunin, a major shareholder in the First Republican Bank and founder of the Eastern European Antique House.

"Dealers have the primitive psychology of Soviet-era profiteers," Yunin said, adding that all of the dealers he has met in his life were in some way dishonest.

Antiques evaluators often facilitate sales of counterfeits. It is hard to find competent — and most importantly, honest — antique experts that give accurate assessments of the item's value, said Vladimir Kazakov, general director of the National Institute of Independent Expertise.

Many of the current experts come from state structures, are aging and find it hard to resist the temptation of bribes, Kistochkin said. The situation is so bad that some of them are virtually on salary from dishonest dealers.

Despite the well-known problems in this market segment, the perpetrators of counterfeits easily escape punishment. The law states the consequences for stealing antiques is up to 15 years in jail,

depending on the item. But there is no separate article concerning those who produce counterfeits, lawyer Vladimir Sidyakin said.  

Even if the culprit is caught, it is hard to prove improper intent. The person could merely say that he painted a reproduction of a famous painting for his friends, Kistochkin said.

The Antique House plans to help control the number of fakes on the market by offering collectors an evaluation of items they are interested in through a panel of three independent experts with access to a top notch technical laboratory. However, since there will be more experts involved, the service will cost 40 to 50 percent more than similar services currently on the market, such at the expertise offered by the Historical Museum's Society of Friends. 
© The Moscow Times. 28 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:33 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 1 September 2013 9:29 AM EDT
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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Pair of Imperial Russian Vases Found in Oklahoma
Topic: Antiques
Two vases from Russia’s Imperial Factory of porcelain were recently found in Oklahoma and have been identified by the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The vases are valued at $1.5–2.5 million and will be put on sale on Apr. 17 at the Dallas Auction Gallery in Texas.

These monumental vases, 4.4-feet-tall and dating back to 1832, are surely among the most beautiful pieces of Russian porcelain presented on the market in recent years. The estimated worth is $1.5–2.5 million for each vase.

Ekaterina Khmelnitskaya is the curator of the porcelain department at the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg and the expert charged with the authentication of these pieces. “The discovery of these vases is a real event. They mark the golden age of Russian porcelain production during the reign of Nicholas I, and the quality of their execution is exceptional,” says Khmelnitskaya.

During the 19th century, monumental vases like these were created to decorate the vast Imperial palaces and residences. They were often commissioned by the emperor himself, who presented them to royal families or to foreign diplomats. Made in the classical style, their bellies portray reproductions of paintings by Dutch masters from the Hermitage’s collections. “These remarkable paintings are signed M. Golov and M. Meschcheniakov — undeniably the best copy-makers onto porcelain of that time,” Khmelnitskaya says. “And what a surprise to find these treasures of the czar in the middle of the Far West!”

The vases were bought from a Munich gallery in the mid-1920s by Frank Buttram. At the time, Buttram was an oil magnate, philanthropist and art enthusiast from Oklahoma traveling through Europe. Probably, then, the vases are among the countless Imperial riches scattered by the Communists upon their arrival to power.

After nearly a century in the family collection, the vases are finally to be presented to the public and will be put up for sale on Apr. 17 at the Dallas Auction Gallery. Buttram’s descendants have expressed the wish to see the vases return to their country of origin.

© Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 14 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:05 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2013 5:43 PM EST
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Friday, 16 November 2012
Naryshkin Treasure to be Divided Between Museums
Topic: Antiques


The vast trove of Imperial treasures found in the former Naryshkin-Trubetskoy Mansion in St. Petersburg earlier this year will be divided between two museums.

One half will go to the Konstantin Palace at Strelna, while the other half will go to Pavlovsk Palace-Museum. It is not known at this time exactly what items each museum will receive, but Pavlovsk have already announced plans to create an exhibition once they have been received and catalogued their share.

Restoration work was being carried out at the former Naryshkin-Trubetskoy mansion at 29 Tchaikovsky Street (the same street that housed the former palace of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna) when a secret room was discovered. The room measuring about 5 square meters contained an enormous treasure of more than 2,000 items that had sat hidden since before the Russian Revolution.

For more information, including photographs and a video of the treasure, please refer to the following links at Royal Russia News:

||| Tsarist-Era Treasures Found in 18th-century St Petersburg Mansion includes more than 50 colour photos! |||

 ||| Tsarist-Era Treasures Found in 18th-Century St Petersburg Mansion  includes 16 minute video|||

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:02 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 November 2012 10:49 AM EST
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Sunday, 28 October 2012
An Important Collection of Russian Books & Manuscripts with Imperial Provenance
Topic: Antiques


Photo Credit: Christie's 

On 29 November 2012, Christie’s (London) will have the great privilege of offering for sale the largest group of Russian books and manuscripts with noble provenance to come to auction in decades: the collections of Emperors Paul I, Alexander I, Alexander II, Alexander III, Nicholas I, Nicholas II, Empress Elizabeth, and numerous Grand Dukes and Duchesses are all represented. The fate of books from the Russian palaces mirrors that of the palaces themselves: war and revolution took their brutal toll. Material with imperial provenance of the quality and importance represented in this collection is seldom offered for sale, and hardly ever in quantity. It would be virtually impossible to form another of this scope and caliber today. Highlights include The Coronation Album of Alexander III (estimate: £70,000 – 100,000, illustrated above) and a unique album of drawings of the coats-of-arms of members of the court of the future Emperor Paul (1796-1801), son of Catherine the Great (estimate: £150,000 – 200,000).

The books and manuscripts offered in this collection come from one of the most important philanthropists and collectors of the 19th century, J. Pierpoint Morgan (1837-1913). 

© Christie's London. 28 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:59 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2012 8:01 AM EDT
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Thursday, 25 October 2012
Sotheby's Offers Icon Commemorating Survival of Imperial Family at Borki
Topic: Antiques


Sotheby's London will offer an important Imperial Silver-Gilt and Cloisonne Enamel Icon of Christ Pantocrator, (Ovchinnikov, Moscow, 1884) – commemorating the miraculous survival of Emperor Alexander III and his family when the Imperial train derailed disastrously near Borki in 1888. Twenty-one members of the Imperial retinue died and in the richly-appointed dining car, the Emperor’s dog Kamchatka was killed instantly at his master’s feet. The Emperor, who held up the collapsing roof of the car to allow his family to escape, was later presented with this Icon by his elite guards. Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna recalled the terrible scene of the aftermath in her memoirs: “I found myself at the bottom of a steep slope which the carriage had rolled down. I got up onto my feet and looked back. I saw bleeding people tumbling and falling down after me … It was dreadful … I thought all my loved ones had been killed.” In both state decrees and church sermons this event was presented as proof of God’s divine intervention. Inscribed ‘[From the] Guards [to] Their Imperial Majesties’ and ‘On the Occasion of the Miraculous Rescue during the Imperial Train’s Accident’, the Icon speaks potently of devotion and of the bond between Tsar and people.

Hung in the chapel at Gatchina – the Emperor’s favourite imperial residence – the icon was kept as an important family relic of deep personal significance. Exquisitely enamelled with floral detailing, this rare and richly historical work displays the most filigree craftsmanship and is saturated in Romanov history. After the Revolution this powerfully emotive Icon was believed to be among many of the Imperial family’s belongings that were dispersed on the European antiquarian market. The sale will take place at Sotheby's in London on November 28th, and carries an estimate of £180,000-250,000.

© Sotheby's and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:50 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 October 2012 10:32 AM EDT
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Monday, 8 October 2012
Rare Tsarskoye Selo Book Presented to Putin
Topic: Antiques


Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev presented President Vladimir Putin with a rare book to mark the Russian president's 60th birthday on October 7th.

The book, Tsarskoye Selo During the Reign of Empress Elizabeth was written by Alexander Benois, and published in 1910. No reprint of this book has been produced since.

In his book, Benois recreates the story behind the construction and development of Tsarskoye Selo during the and reign of the daughter of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia from 1741-1762.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 08 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:10 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 8 October 2012 10:21 AM EDT
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Monday, 16 July 2012
Auction of Rare Russian Imperial Porcelain
Topic: Antiques


Part of a 19th Century banquet service that once belonged to Emperor Alexander III of Russia—is set to come under the hammer at West Midlands’ auction house Cuttlestones on Friday 14th September 2012.

All matching, the twelve pieces comprise six soup bowls and six plates that were made at, and carry the marks of, the Imperial Porcelain factory in St Petersburg. The delicate design combines scalloped edges with gilt decoration; each piece emblazoned with the cipher of Alexander III beneath the Imperial crown. In exceptional condition, carrying no cracks or chips and with just minor rubbing to the gilt, these are a very special find – as Adrian Simmons, specialist ceramics valuer at Cuttlestones, explains:

These are an unusual offering of pre-revolutionary Russian porcelain, and have a cast iron Royal connection. It is very rare for matching groups to come onto the market, normally just odd ones and pairs appear.

© Cuttlestones. 16 July, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:38 AM EDT
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Sunday, 17 June 2012
Rare Russian Imperial Porcelain Kremlin Service Plate
Topic: Antiques


Estate Auctions Inc. is offering a rare opportunity to own a unique and very hard to find Kremlin Service Plate. "We continue to be astonished at the rare unique items that come through our doors. Our clients appreciate the out of the ordinary and quirky items and this plate certainly falls into that category." says Norb Novocin, Owner of Estate Auctions Inc. of Delaware.

After much research Mr. Novocin discovered that a set of 12 plates, which matches this single plate currently listed on eBay, sold at Sotheby's in 2004 for $78,000. Again in 2008, a set of 6 sold for $34,000. A single plate available outside of a high end auction house is very rare but for the opening bid to be less than a dollar... you may never see that again.

The plate is from a service that was commissioned for use in the Great Kremlin Palace, the official Moscow residence for the Imperial family, when the process of renovating, and ultimately rebuilding, the palace began in 1837. The task of designing the new service fell to the talented student and future professor of the Academy of Arts Fedor Solntsev, who had been studying and recording Russian antiquities. He drew upon 17th century metalwork as a model; in the case of this plate, the source was a sumptuous gold plate made for Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich by masters of the Moscow Kremlin Armory in 1667. See Tamara Kudriavtseva, Russian Imperial Porcelain, St. Petersburg, 2003, pp. 130-132.

The auction closes Monday, June 18th at approximately 10:00 PM EST. Interest in this rare and historic plate continues to increase as the closing draws near.

© SFGate. 17 June, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
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Monday, 11 June 2012
Romanov Memorabilia to be Auctioned in Paris
Topic: Antiques


An auction at Olivier Coutau-Bégarie in Paris, will offer more than 400 lots on June 18th, 2012.  Many items on the Romanovs are  going under the hammer, including photographs, letters, Faberge, icons, paintings, silverware, Imperial porcelain, military memorabilia and more.

One of the most unique items offered is a set of 48 colour polychrome plates of the Alexander Palace interiors. These extremely rare images show the private apartments of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and their children. Taken in 1914, they allow us a rare glimpse into the home of the last Russian Imperial family while they were still in residence at the palace. They have been listed at between €3,000-5,000.

||| Click Here to View a Copy of the Catalogue |||

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 June, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:12 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 11 June 2012 11:22 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Son of WWII Doctor Returns Stolen Treasures to Russia
Topic: Antiques


Treasures stolen from a Russian museum during WWII have found their way back home. Two crates with hundreds of rare exhibits stolen in 1941 were voluntarily returned to Russia by a Wehrmacht doctor’s son, Russia Today reports.
A museum in the city of Tver, north of Moscow, received the unexpected parcel. The 480 objects including a collection of crosses, archeological findings and icons stunned employees – many of the objects are extremely rare and valuable.

“We are still opening the parcels and are already bowled over,” Tver State United Museum leading scientific employee Svetlana Gerasimova told KP daily. “The collection of crosses alone has around 100 items… We are still exploring the contents.”

Before the outbreak of WWII, the museum stored its exhibits in a local cathedral. In 1941 when the city was captured by Nazi troops, the collection disappeared.

According to KP Daily, a Wehrmacht doctor who was with the troops, got access to the storage and saw that the museum’s objects were real treasures. He sent them to Germany. The man died in Russia in 1942, yet the treasures survived.

The doctor’s widow asked her son to return the stolen objects where they belonged. It took him a while however to settle all legal issues and complete the deed. The man who returned the treasures to the Russian museum wished to remain anonymous.

© Russkiy Mir Information Service. 23 May, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:43 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2012 8:14 AM EDT
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